In this episode of Money Tales, our guest is Juan Thomas. Juan grew up in suburban Chicago and as an African American, he saw a different level of privilege when hanging-out with white kids and felt out of place in both worlds. When he attended Morehouse college, he did a deep dive on African American theological giants, inspiring him to become a servant leader. Juan also wanted to be the first black president. Although that’s been taken, he’s still committed to political aspirations and is focused on bridging the money differences he sees between black and white communities.
Juan is Of Counsel to Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., and is the founder and principal of The Thomas Law Group. Mr. Thomas’ practice includes the following specialties: real estate/estate planning, labor and employment, and family law. In addition, Mr. Thomas provides counseling and training to firm clients in areas involving personnel, collective bargaining, and business development matters.
The National Black Lawyers: Top 100 includes Mr. Thomas on its list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers for their superior skills and qualifications in the field. Membership in this exclusive organization is by invitation only and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region who have demonstrated excellence and have achieved outstanding results in their careers. Mr. Thomas’ selection was based upon his performance as an exceptional lawyer in the practice area of matrimonial and family law in the state of Illinois.
Because of Mr. Thomas’ dedication to developing lawyers for bar leadership and community service, he was selected to serve on the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, a national association of lawyers-leaders whose mission is to provide high-quality programming and leadership development training for members of the legal community. Mr. Thomas also serves as the Chair-Elect of the American Bar Association’s Civil Rights & Social Justice Section, and the General Counsel for the Morehouse College National Alumni Association.
This past December, Mr. Thomas was elected by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) to be an At-Large Delegate in the ABA House of Delegates becoming only the second African-American to represent the ISBA in its 144 history in the ABA House of Delegates. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation and Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society (Chicago Chapter).
Mr. Thomas served as the 75th President of the National Bar Association (NBA) from 2017-18. During his term as President, the NBA co-founded the National Commission for Voter Justice to address voter suppression across the country while advancing electoral reform and civic engagement. Under his Law & Technology Initiative, Mr. Thomas was the first NBA President to lead the Association to Silicon Valley to promote more diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. Also, under Mr. Thomas’ leadership the NBA established its first LGBTQ Lawyers Division to further advance an inclusive environment for all members of the Association regardless of their sexual orientation or identity.
From 2013-19, Mr. Thomas served on the Board of Directors of Mutual Ground Inc., an organization committed to providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families. He is the Past Chair of the State Conference of Illinois NAACP Legal Redress Committee and the past General Counsel for 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc. Currently, he is on the Board of Directors of the Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Association, 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc., and the A + Foundation for the West Aurora School District # 129.
Mr. Thomas’ passion is community and public service. While in law school, he successfully ran for the West Aurora School Board, commuting 120 miles each way every weekend during the campaign. At the age of twenty-five (25), Mr. Thomas became the youngest person ever elected to the West Aurora School Board and became the first African American ever re-elected to the Board in 1999. While on the school board, Mr. Thomas served as Chairman of the Board’s Personnel Committee. In 2005, he was elected Aurora Township Clerk becoming the first African American to win a township-wide office in Aurora, IL, the second largest city in the state. In 2009, he was re-elected Aurora Township Clerk with 57% of the vote receiving more votes than any other candidate seeking an Aurora Township office that year. Mr. Thomas was the first Democrat ever to serve as Aurora Township Clerk.
Mr. Thomas is a past 1st Vice President of the DuPage County Branch of the NAACP and has previously served on the Boards of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, the Community Renewal Society, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, the University of Illinois College of Education Board of Visitors and the University of Illinois College of Law Alumni Association.
In 2018, Mr. Thomas was awarded the Katie Holmes Educational Foundation Public Service Award for Leadership and Service in the Legal Community. In 2011 and again in 2015, Mr. Thomas was given the honor of being named, Citizen of the Year by his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Mu Xi Chapter for his service and dedication to the community. He has received the NAACP, DuPage County Branch’s President’s Award both in 2013 and 2014, as well as, a 2014 recipient of the NAACP, DuPage County Branch’s Claude Audley Award of Leadership Excellence, for his leadership and service to the community. Mr. Thomas has received five Presidential Service Awards from the National Bar Association in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, and in 2016 for his contributions to the field of law. In 2011, he was invited to become a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation because of his outstanding achievements in the legal profession. Mr. Thomas is a 2004 Fellow of the Harvard Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute, and a 2002 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.
A graduate of Morehouse College, Mr. Thomas received his Juris Doctor and master’s in educational policy degree from the University of Illinois in Campaign-Urbana. An ordained Baptist minister, Mr. Thomas also holds a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago School of Divinity. Mr. Thomas is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Ministry Degree at the Chicago Theological Seminary. In addition to his professional and civic involvement, Mr. Thomas and his wife, Angela, are proud members of St. John AME Church in Aurora where he serves as the Minister for Social Justice.
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