Wake County is excited to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting Black excellence in our community and among our staff.
Throughout the month of February, we'll be sharing personal profiles of Wake County leaders who truly embody what it means to honor diversity, inclusion and equity in service.
Today's Celebrating Black Excellence profile features Shinica Thomas, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Additional profiles will be added throughout the month, so be sure to check back often for more insights on Black excellence in our community.
Both of my parents were born in the West Indies. My father is a retired Army Veteran. I am a first-generation college graduate. I was a non-traditional student finishing college as a military wife. I attended two HBCUs, Howard University and Fayetteville State University. I spent several years working part time in Human Resources for GlaxoSmithKline, Target Corporation and Wake Tech, along with volunteering in my community, so that I could have the opportunity to be a “stay-at home mom” to our sons. It was important to me to spend that time with them. I always knew that I could make money at any time in my career, but time was not redeemable. It was important to me and my husband to raise young men that were going to be intelligent, impactful and feel empowered to be productive world-changers. Our oldest son is currently working towards his paramedic certification. Our youngest is a student a 2022 Graduate of Harvard University and pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL.
Q & A – Getting to Know You
What does Black excellence mean to you?
I truly had a hard time defining it. For me, it feels almost like a burden (sometimes); an expectation that is unattainable, it doesn’t allow us to breathe (at times). Despite this feeling, I completely understand the concept of acknowledging that we (Black people) are doing things in an exceptional way. Often times our triumphs aren’t recognized or valued so Black excellence is an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of our community both internally and externally..
What would you tell your 15-year-old self?
When I was fifteen, I had just moved back to the United States after living in Germany for five years. It was a pivotal time as I was starting a new school, making new friends, all in a new country, a new state and it was the beginning of High school. Creating friends groups, college decisions, etc. It all seemed so overwhelming. Thinking back to my experiences that I had at the time, I would tell myself: “Beautiful girl, you can do hard things.”
What was the last song you heard and/or book you read?
I recently read a book called Black Cake: A Novel by Charmaine Wilkerson. Without any spoilers, the book is best characterized by the reveal of a matriarch’s life decisions and experiences that the family was not privy to until after her death. This book depicts this through a Caribbean family and their journey toward the truth. While this is a fictional story, this book gave me a lot of fond memories of my family and childhood. My parents are West Indian, and there are cultural references in the book that remind me of home. I spent many of my summers in Trinidad with my cousins.
What is a quote that resonates with you?
“Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Fail or succeed, at least you know you gave all you had.” – Angela Bassett
We need to live the best that’s in us.
My husband and I have always set a high expectation for ourselves and our kids to live up to. I carry these same high expectations in how I show up in my role as a County Commissioner, I want to represent and leave a legacy for all the other Black women who come behind me. Whether it comes out good or bad, I know I gave it all I had
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the following accomplishments:
- I have been married for 28 years and my husband and I have raised two Black sons who are amazingly productive citizens right in Wake County.
- Being a Regional HR Manager with the Target Corporation and responsible for opening and staffing many of the stores in the Triangle.
- Working to build the Compensation, Equity, Diversity and Employee Relations Department at GlaxoSmithKline, and implementing a grievance and mediation program within the RTP and Philadelphia campuses.
- Creating a Virtual Assistant program that helped busy executives and entrepreneurs with their scheduling, travel, calendar management and HR needs.
- Working as a Fund Development professional for Girl Scouts as they celebrated their 100th anniversary and starting a Women's Giving Network among female donors.
- As the Director of Advocacy and Educational Partnership for Girl Scouts, creating relevant opportunities for alumni to engage with current program participants and elevating the leadership experience in the community.
- Being appointed to serve three terms on the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources advisory board in the Town of Wake Forest, where we developed a Master Plan and built a new community center.