Anthony Thomas is the executive director of Show Up, Turn Out, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to non-partisan, non-political engagement around issues important to the community. The goal of the organization is to increase turnout in local elections, particularly African American voter turnout.
With the 2021 general election for city offices in full swing, Thomas has been working tirelessly to get people active in early voting, which began last Saturday. In an interview with the AmNews, he said voters are concerned about what’s impacting their day-to-day life.
“I think people are interested in quality of life issues,” Thomas said. “I think people are thinking about, ‘How do I get a government that works for me?’ People are also wondering, ‘Why bother to engage?’ At Show Up, Turn Out we want to bring people the issues they told us they cared about.”
Originally from the Midwest, growing up in Michigan and Chicago, Thomas has a BA in History from the University of Missouri and a MPA in Public Administration and Leadership from New York University.
Thomas began working in politics in Missouri managing campaigns and served as the chief of staff of the Missouri Democratic Party. He moved to New York while doing political work around the country and decided to make the Big Apple home.
As founder of The Uptown Table, Thomas partners with clients ranging from large workforce development organizations to labor unions, to economic justice and organizing nonprofits. He builds systems and operationalizes campaigns to procure funding or increase public engagement for clients.
In addition, Thomas advises leadership teams on investments, manages external consulting teams and helps create internal processes to increase impact on campaigns, enhance affiliate engagement, and influence legislative bodies.
“I’m a Pan-Africanist,” he said. “If I’m not creating access or building bridges or leveraging larger equity for a collective I don’t feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do in this world.”
Previously, Thomas served as the senior director for strategic planning at the Consortium for Worker Education which is the largest workforce education organization in New York City. Prior to that he served as the political & legislative director for the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO helping unions and affiliates build power.
Thomas has worked as a consultant for multiple progressive candidates and legislative initiatives. He has directed political and legislative programs in the labor movement in New York and Chicago, managed citywide campaigns in New York and San Francisco, and city, state and federal races around the country.
While he has no aspirations to run for public office himself, Thomas believes there are lots of ways to create change and have an impact on the world. In addition to his work with organizations, Thomas is an adjunct professor at SUNY Empire State College, a board member of Community Voices Heard Power, and on the advisory committee of Forward Majority helping to create equity in state legislative chambers around the country.
“I find that for me, there’s a lot of output-centric work, but I’m only really into impact-centric work in spaces I chose to play in,” he said. “There’s only so many summers left each of us will have on this earth. I view it a luxury to be able to do this kind of work on behalf of different communities.”