Dr Thomas-1The American Conference on Diversity will honor Dr. Pamela Thomas, Principal at Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC) of America’s Career and Academic Development Institute (CADI), with the 2017 Bridge Builder Award on Thursday, April 6, during the 69th Annual Humanitarian Awards Gala at the Pleasantdale Château in West Orange, NJ.

OIC was founded by Reverend Leon H. Sullivan in 1970. OIC of America provides low-income people with the tools and support to overcome barriers to economic opportunity and social justice in America.

Dr. Thomas is passionate about changing the lives of under-credited youth in Camden, NJ, and Philadelphia. At CADI, she prepares students, ranging in age from 16 to 21, for a productive life after graduation by keeping the atmosphere and culture positive.

“It is the key to success as well as keeping an attitude of non-tolerance in regards to violence,” says Dr. Thomas, who makes a point of learning each of her students’ names within the first two weeks of school to build trust. She says that she believes in “changing poison into medicine,” knows that teamwork is the ultimate way a school can be successful in helping a child attain his or her full potential, and lives by the motto: “Be the master of your mind, and not a victim of your thoughts”

Dr. Thomas began her career in 1982 as a social worker within the Philadelphia School District. In 1987, she became a Certified Addictions Counselor and later that year served as a trainer for various agencies, educating staff and clinicians on topics such as ethics, diversity, drug/alcohol addiction, and HIV/AIDS. In 1999, she earned her Master’s degree in Human Services and began teaching courses at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Camden County College, as well as within Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program.

After completing her Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership in 2011 at Fielding Graduate University, her passion and focus developed for at-risk and adjudicated youth that led to her current role at CADI. She is a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution and the National Association for Community Mediation where she continues her roles in leadership.

This year’s Humanitarian Awards Gala is co-chaired by Grammy-Award winning music legend Dionne Warwick (2015 Humanitarian Award honoree) and Berkeley College Chair Kevin Luing (2016 Humanitarian Award honoree) and will be hosted by Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap. Five other outstanding diversity and inclusion ambassadors will be recognized during the gala:

Randall L. Stephenson, Chairman & CEO of AT&T (Humanitarian of the Year), boldly tackles race inside and outside of the workplace. Watch: http://bit.ly/2kCvK11.

Cid Wilson, President & CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility – HACR (Diversity & Inclusion Champion), is a global trailblazer for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

RWJBarnabas Health (Healthcare) is the most comprehensive healthcare delivery system in New Jersey with a service area covering five million people. The CEO of RWJBarnabas Health is Barry Ostrowsky.

Mildred Scott, Middlesex County Sheriff (Law Enforcement), is the first female Sheriff in Middlesex County and the first African-American Sheriff in the state of New Jersey.

Nicolas A. Ferroni, Union High School Teacher (Diversity in Education Champion Award), was named one of the most influential teachers in the country. Watch: http://u.pw/2kYXABs.

Proceeds from the Humanitarian Awards dinner will support the American Conference on Diversity’s mission to build just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. Our work to fight bias, bigotry, and injustice is needed now more than ever.

By uniting top executives and community leaders committed to this mission, the American Conference on Diversity aims to raise $300,000 to continue to provide diversity and inclusion services, including the signature Lead for Diversity Institute. The yearlong, life-changing program has impacted more than 3,300 high-school students since 1995 by providing leadership-development and human-relations training so youth can stand up to hate, educate their peers, and be better prepared to enter today’s workplace.

Dinner sponsors include: ADP, Berkeley College, Verizon, BASF, L’Oréal USA, Investors Bank, New Jersey Resources, NJM Insurance Company, PSEG, Genova Burns, PNC Bank, Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas Health, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, and Nicholas Martini Foundation.

In addition to networking, dining, and entertainment, this year’s fundraiser will include a silent auction and prizes. The annual event will kick off with a stellar cocktail and networking reception at 6 p.m. at the spectacular Pleasantdale Château (757 Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052).

Seats are limited! To purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or make silent auction item donations, contact Gala Coordinator Barbara Getze at bgetze@aol.com or (800) 626-8097 today. Tickets must be purchased in advance. 

About the American Conference on Diversity

The American Conference on Diversity is dedicated to building just and inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders, enhancing our workplaces, and helping to create inclusive communities. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org to learn more.


Gail Zoppo

Media Relations Consultant

109 Church Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901