By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on Monday announced DeJuana L. Thompson, founder of Woke Vote and Think Rubix Principal, as interim President and CEO.
“Leadership is vital as we cast the vision for the future and we are super excited to announce our CEO and President, DeJuana Thompson,” said Isaac Cooper, Board Chairman, during the announcement via LIVE stream on the BCRI’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
Thompson, 38 said she was “honored” to serve as interim CEO and President.
“I want to thank the Board of Directors for your leadership and confidence in me, I want to thank the staff here who have already shown me so much support… I want to thank my parents who are my foundation and taught me to be a servant leader and without them I wouldn’t be here today.”
Thompson said she also thought of the city’s Civil Rights history. “All I can say is to God be the glory for the things He has done and the things He will do,” she said. “When I started to think about the opportunity to step into this role, I began to think of the Fred Shuttlesworths, the Rosa Parks all of the Foot Soldiers… who stood so we can stand today and I thought to myself, ‘this is the moment that I have been birthed for, just like they were birthed to carry the Civil Rights Movement of their generation.’
There is much work ahead “especially given what we saw in 2020,” Thompson said, “I myself along with other organizers and activists and mothers and students were on the frontlines all over this country asking for and demanding justice up against systems we felt were not seeing us and hearing us,” she said.
Odessa Woolfolk, chair emerita of the BCRI, said Thompson would provide leadership in a difficult time.
“When my generation was lifting up hope for the future, we thought that by now our country would have come to its senses and to recognize people regardless of their race, creed, color, gender…” said Woolfolk, “but here we are and I think we have a team here that will bring together people from all backgrounds to address these issues and have this the kind of community we all want to have.”
Thompson has already raised over $25,000 for growth and renovation at the BCRI, she said.
“I didn’t come with a cape on but I came with a pair of gloves on,” said Thompson, who will also oversee the continued expansion of BCRI’s virtual programs, and the new Movement app being created in partnership with Apple.
Thompson, a Birmingham native is no stranger to the BCRI having first volunteered in 1999 as a youth guide.
She is a co-founding partner with Think Rubix, a creative problem-solving and engagement firm based in Washington DC and Birmingham.
As founder of Woke Vote, Thompson’s organization mobilized African American voters in the South through campus and faith-based outreach, strategic media outreach, culturally relevant GOTV efforts and training. The program engaged over two million Black voters nationwide and has trained over 5K new leaders.
Thompson got her start working in municipal politics as a Committee Assistant to the Birmingham City Council before becoming the Special Projects Coordinator and Council Neighborhood Liaison working on engagement and programming with Birmingham’s 99 neighborhood presidents.
Her work has taken her from Birmingham to the White House as a presidential appointee for the Obama/Biden Administration in 2015 to serve as Senior Advisor in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
She is a recipient of several honors including have been recognized by Elle Magazine, Glamour Magazine and BET as one of the top Black female leaders in 2020, being named one of the Alabama Women Who Shape the State 2019, Top Young Professionals in the state of Alabama 2015, 2013 recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Berea College, awarded a Key to the City of Birmingham in 2010, bestowed honor as a Kentucky Colonel in 2008 and received the Coretta Scott King Leadership Award in 2007.
Thompson obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication with a minor in African American studies from Berea College and a Master’s Certificate in Effective Project Management from Rockhurst University. She has completed course work toward a Master of Political Management from George Washington University.