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Leadership Spotlight: Mary L. Thomas


On Thursday, February 10th, Mary Thomas will lead “Philanthropy & the Southern Landscape.” 

Mary L. Thomas, Spartanburg County Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Robert Hett Chapman III Center for Philanthropy, is a leader across Spartanburg County and far beyond. She has cultivated a strong relationship with Philanthropy Southeast, formerly the Southeast Council on Foundations, the premier philanthropic network for courageous leaders, ideas, and resources focused on the American South and U.S. Caribbean territories. The organization offers “Philanthropy Essentials” training to professional grantmakers each year. This year’s attendees come from nine states across the country. 

As she recently shared with Philanthropy Southeast, Mary will teach attendees about Passing Gear Principals of Philanthropy.  

 “My goal is to share a philanthropic ecosystem that is wide and varied with multiple ways to engage, inspire, champion, and support causes that matter.”

Mary will also bring a sense of historical perspective – she has worked throughout a time of incredible change for both the field and the region.

“The biggest change is the talk and work around racial equity,” she said. “This work is messy but necessary. It is encouraging to see this region using its voice for change – although daunting, we must persist.

The Distinguished Faculty of the Philanthropy Essentials training also includes  Tiffany FriesenSE Spencer from Philanthropy Southeast; Doug Benson and Whitney Feld from the Foundation for the CarolinasAndrea Dobson from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Veronica Hemmingway from the Coastal Community Foundation; Tina Markanda, Hull Fellow Alumna and Philanthropic Leader; Upendo Shabazz from the Allegany Franciscan Ministries; Dr. Stephanie K. Cooper -Lewter from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.  

The Spartanburg County Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of Spartanburg County residents by promoting philanthropy, encouraging community engagement, and responding to community needs. Established in 1943, The Spartanburg County Foundation is the oldest community foundation in South Carolina. For more information about the Foundation and The Robert Hett Chapman III Center for Philanthropy, click here.