MANCHESTER, NH – Child and Family Services’ NH Children’s Lobby presented Anna J. Thomas, MPH, with the Jack Lightfoot Voice for Children award. The award is an honor bestowed yearly to a New Hampshire citizen who has shown an outstanding commitment to and made a tremendous difference in the lives of children and families.
The award ceremony took place on October 21, at Child and Family Services’ second annual Celebration Event, at the Manchester Country Club. Brad Kuster, member of Child and Family Services’ board of trustees and chair of the agency’s advocacy committee, was the presenter. Kuster explained that Thomas aptly fulfills the four core ideals used when choosing the award winner: 1) To be mission driven; 2) To have advanced the field; 3) To have succeeded in building community partnerships; and 4) To instill values.
A New Hampshire native, Thomas serves as deputy public health director for the City of Manchester, where she has worked since 1994. She also serves as adjunct instructor at Dartmouth Medical School and guest lecturer on public health issues at UNH. As well, she served in the United States Army for 16 years.
Described by her boss, Tim Soucy, as the “moral compass of our community,” Thomas has been instrumental in a number of projects that have made Manchester a model of community engagement. As one of the chief architects of Manchester’s Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy, she works to maximize the impact of funder dollars, increase partnerships and resource sharing, and improve the health of Manchester’s most vulnerable residents. She has succeeded in bringing together the nonprofit sector, families, businesses, and municipal leadership, in order to mobilize the entire community toward the best interests of children. Thomas also helped to transform three struggling Manchester public schools into safe haven schools, reducing violence and increasing resident involvement.
In all of her projects, Thomas plays a critical role in providing access to and interpretation of critical health care and outcomes data, and has become the go-to person for access to knowledge expertise for many social services providers. Her projections for the way Manchester and New Hampshire as a whole could look in the near future, has become a motivating factor for service providers and state leaders to take collective action.
In her acceptance speech, Thomas acknowledged her colleagues at the Manchester Health Department, and her community partners and supporters, as well as her family for instilling in her the gift of service to country and community.
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