The Women Who Inspire Us: Jody Thomas

The National Foundation of Women Legislators

by Elysian Magazine

Warm, welcoming, and all-encompassing in her work to increase and promote diversity within its leadership in accordance with the strategic direction established by the Board of Directors, since December 2013 JODY THOMAS has been at the helm directing the National Foundation for Women Legislators as its Executive Director. A graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma (BA), she served as National Finance Director in two presidential campaigns, bringing to the NFWL the skills necessary to manage issue-oriented groups, committees, campaigns, and special events. Prior to that, she honed those skills as a partner of the Tour de Force Group in Alexandria, Virginia, a public relations firm, and for eight years, a principal at Sagac Public Affairs. She managed all fundraising and political activity for Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts (R) between 1995 and 2002 and in 2002, was appointed by President George W. Bush as Director of Public Liaison for the Office of Personnel Management, which exposed her to national politics at the very core, giving her an unparalleled opportunity to see, and participate in, the workings of the federal government. A dedicated mentor to women of all ages in government relations, since 2015 Jody has served on the State Relations Task Force. In 2021, she received the Women in Government Relations Lifetime Achievement Award.

CliftonStrengths is a global analytics and advice firm that “helps leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems.” NFWL Executive Director Jody Thomas used this assessment tool to not only learn more about herself—but to understand how to effectively work together with others with different strengths toward developing more optimal solutions. No. 1 is an individual’s greatest strength. No. 34 is a person’s least. Here’s what Ms. Thomas learned: “Through CliftonStrengths, I discovered that what I perceived as my weaknesses are really my strengths and I learned how to use my strengths to partner with people who have other strengths that I don’t. My number one strength is harmony. My No. 4 is WOO— ‘Winning Over Others.’ Those help make me a good fundraiser, which is what I have done my entire career—and which I love so very much. When you are doing fundraising, whether for political candidates or an organization, it has to be as good for the donor as it is for the recipient—it can’t be a one-way street.

“No. 34 for me is command. Renee Dabbs—who leads all NFWL projects related to strategy and the best approach to achieving the organization’s goals—has command as her No. 1 strength, and that is what makes us such great partners. Over the years, I unconsciously have partnered with people who had super-strong personalities. They needed me too because I want everyone to be happy and get along. CliftonStrengths made me realize my strengths and how to use them. I love my job. When I came on board as Executive Director of the NFWL, I said I’d sign a two-year contract and that’s it. I’m now in my tenth year!”

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