Thomas Stephens, a native of Delaware, joined the Garden State Philharmonic as its Director of Development in May of 2011. Based on his efforts to improve the organization’s infrastructure and fiscal controls, he was promoted to Managing Director in August of 2012. Thomas previously held the role of Executive Director for the Stafford Township Education Foundation in Manahawkin. For the Foundation, he served as the senior executive overseeing all operations of the Stafford Township Arts Center (STAC), the Foundation’s Childcare Services Division (considered one of the largest early education and child care programs in Ocean County), and a host of programs designed to support the educational and cultural needs of the Stafford Township School District and the Southern Ocean County Community.
Thomas’ professional experiences span more than twenty years and every aspect of the entertainment/theatre production and arts education industries including: administration, arts education, programming, facility management, development/fundraising, strategic planning and board development, sales, marketing and public relations, theatre performance, and advocacy, to name a few. His career has previously afforded him the positions of Project Coordinator for the Ohio Arts Education Assessment Project, Director of Education for the Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio), Tour Director for Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Associate Director of Education for Delaware Theatre Company, and both Assistant Executive Director and Development Director for Algonquin Arts (New Jersey). From his teens through his late twenties, Thomas developed his skills as a professional actor, a performing arts instructor, a not-for-profit consultant and even an amateur poet.
His efforts have yielded countless successes and national recognitions for the aforementioned institutions including special community training opportunities and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Coming Up Taller Award and The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News Award for Excellence in Theatre Education. Thomas has served on the Boards of the Delaware Alliance for Arts Education and Dunbar Repertory Company, the core curriculum writing teams for the states of Delaware and Ohio, and countless planning committees supporting his other passions HIV/AIDS awareness and education, preventing cruelty to animals and building inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. From 2009 to 2015, he served on the Board of Directors for the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, a service and support organization dedicated to building the capacity of the arts, history and cultural communities in the eight southern counties of New Jersey. Thomas currently serves as Board Secretary and a Founding Board Member of Northwest Hills Youth and Family Services in Connecticut, an agency dedicated to empowering at-risk youth.
Thomas holds degrees in the Humanities (Masters), Business Administration, Nonprofit (Bachelors) and Theater Performance (Associates Eqv./Professional Certificate). The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NYC), Southwest Florida College and collaborations with the faculties of the Ohio State University, The Julliard School and Almeda University are, among others, credited for having contributed to Thomas’ academic training. He considers himself a life-long learner having often supported full-time professional career positions while simultaneously pursuing continued academic education.
He currently lives in Dothan, Alabama with his partner of 17 years, Trace Baxter, Quality Assurance Consultant for Caregivers of New Jersey.