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NEWS & EVENTS

Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio CEO, Columbus Mayor to Deliver Commencement Addresses

Posted by Nichole Johnson |

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

News-Thomas-Coleman-Commencement-2014Capital University will welcome the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio and the mayor of Columbus as keynote speakers and honorary degree recipients for the University and Law School commencement ceremonies, respectively, in May.

Habitat CEO E.J. Thomas, who also serves on Capital’s Board of Trustees, will address more than 600 graduates and their families at Capital’s 164th Commencement Ceremony Saturday, May 3, on the Bexley campus. Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman will speak at the Law School’s Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 25, at Veteran’s Memorial in Downtown Columbus.

In his 10th year leading Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio, E.J. Thomas oversees and operates one of the nation’s most productive Habitat affiliates. Habitat for Humanity believes all people should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live, and builds and repairs houses all over the world using volunteer labor and donations. Under Thomas’s leadership, the Mid-Ohio Habitat affiliate, which now serves Franklin and Licking counties, has funded and constructed on average 16 houses annually across the last five years — 36 of them since 2012. The affiliate earned the coveted Columbus Foundation Award in 2012.

Habitat’s two ReStores, whose revenue from consigning new and used home improvement building materials support Habitat’s mission by offsetting administrative and overhead costs, has become the state’s largest Habitat retailer during Thomas’s tenure, generating $2.5 million in revenues over the last 18 months. Recognized by his peers as one of Central Ohio’s top leaders, Thomas was named CEO of the Year in the large nonprofit organization category at Columbus CEO magazine’s CEO of the Year Awards event in 2013.

Thomas is immediate past chair of the State Support Organization of Habitat, which aids the non-profit’s 65 affiliates through governmental advocacy efforts and training in grants-writing and best practice, and he is an elected member of Habitat for Humanity International’s U.S. Council.

A public servant at heart, Thomas was elected to eight terms as state representative for the 27th District in north Columbus, specializing in fiscal policy and serving as chairman of the Ways and Means and Finance and Appropriations committees. A retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force and the Ohio Air National Guard, Thomas served his country for 32 years in the military and is credited with flying 32 missions during the first Persian Gulf War.

Capital is fortunate to call him a member of its Board of Trustees, where he serves on the University Resources Committee.

Since taking office in 2000, Mayor Michael B. Coleman has built Columbus’s reputation as one of the best cities in the nation by building stronger, safer neighborhoods and creating jobs by maintaining a high quality of life. Columbus is now the 15th largest city in the nation, the largest city in Ohio and among the only growing cities in the Midwest.

Under Coleman’s leadership, Columbus has been recognized as the best big city in the Midwest for job growth and as one of the top 10 cities in the nation for college graduates. While in office, Coleman has championed public-private collaboration to develop and revitalize Downtown, increase jobs, support safe and engaging after-school programming, and build stronger, safer neighborhoods. These accomplishments reinforce Columbus’s position as a top city in which to live, work and raise a family.

Coleman has leveraged initiatives to attract and retain jobs, private investments and businesses in the area. Throughout his tenure, he has focused on enhancing public safety; building neighborhood pride by engaging residents and businesses to fix up thousands of homes and clean up their neighborhoods; addressing urban blight by demolishing or rehabilitating long-abandoned homes; maintaining a balanced budget despite nationwide economic challenges; and launching environmental initiatives, such as Get Green Columbus, improving energy efficiency in city facilities, making Columbus more bike-able and walkable, and establishing the city’s first comprehensive residential recycling program for single-family homes.

Mayor Coleman was first elected in 1999 and has been re-elected three times, most recently in 2011. He previously served as president of Columbus City Council and, prior, as a council member. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1977 with a degree in political science and earned his law degree from the University of Dayton Law School in 1980. Capital was honored to welcome Mayor Coleman as keynote speaker in 2012 for its 162nd Commencement Ceremony.

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