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Deborah Aubert Thomas

President & CEO

headshot of deborah

Name: Deborah Aubert Thomas
Pronouns:  She/Her/Hers
Title: President and CEO
Phone:  614.224.1344

Here’s what I can help you with:

  1. Advocating and championing philanthropy in Ohio
  2. Empowering change through advocacy, educating, convening and collaboration
  3. Channeling resources to support the field
  4. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging efforts
  5. Authentic Leadership in Philanthropy program

What’s your role at Philanthropy Ohio?

As President and CEO, I provide strategic and visionary leadership to grow and expand the value of the organization to its members and to the field of philanthropy. I assist the board in the development and implementation of strategy and keep members on the cutting edge through networking, professional development and training opportunities, knowledge and information sharing, publications, research and resources. I serve as an advocate for philanthropy in Ohio and nationwide and encourages joint projects, communication and collaboration among Philanthropy Ohio members and with other key partners at the state and national levels. 

What’s the best part about your job?

The people and the relationships! I have the pleasure of working with a dedicated and smart board of directors and staff members who are all at the top of their game. In addition, I get to meet and know inspiring professionals and learn about all the many innovative ways our members are partnering for change across the state. 

When did you start work at Philanthropy Ohio?

September 2014 as VP, Programs & Learning

August 2019 as President and CEO 

Career background/education?

I served for five years as VP, programs & learning, where I provided vision and oversight for all Philanthropy Ohio educational programs and used my Connectedness®, Learner®, Input® and Futuristic® strengths (Stengthfinders) to scan and engage with the national philanthropic landscape, collect best practices and develop processes to bring high-quality learning to Ohio philanthropy.

Prior to that, I served as director of grants and programs at the Princeton Area Community Foundation and have experience coordinating the diversity internship program for Women & Philanthropy. I developed the National Girls Inc. Media Literacy after-school program and coordinated the Leadership Scholars program at the Institute for Women’s Leadership, Rutgers University. I hold a Master of Arts from the Steinhardt School of Education, New York University, and a Master of Science from the Milano Graduate School, New School University. 

Current city, and what do you like about it?

I currently live in Bexley, Ohio. I love the sense of community and surrounding nature (the city is designated an arboretum with an over-130-species tree collection). My family roots are in southern and northeast Louisiana, and I’ve lived in Fredonia, New York; Detroit, Michigan; New York City; and Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Ohio has been home since 2010. 

What’s something people might not know about you?

I love to dance. I grew up taking ballet and jazz dance classes. As an adult, I’ve taken salsa and ballroom dance classes and love Zumba. 

What do you do outside of work?

Managing the busy lives of two children, my husband and our dog, pursuing health and fitness, reading or listening to books (mostly nonfiction) and volunteering on the boards of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) and United Philanthropy Forum. I also enjoy travel and love a good movie.