Dr. Joy Thomas has made it her mission to uplift and empower families in transition and/or crisis by volunteerism, community activism, and by writing scholarly articles to impact educational policy. She has over two decades of service to families as it relates to education and employment for marginalized and disenfranchised communites of color.
She currently works for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education as an Educator/Employment Coordinator. Her focus there is to assist incarcerated men and women reunite with their families, further their education, and with employment options. She uses her expertise in creating community partnerships with K-12 administrations, community colleges, and resource programs to advocate for her students. Additionally, Dr. Thomas is an invited guest lecturer for pre-service teachers at colleges and universities where she addresses the social foundations of education in which she consider the role of school policy in shaping the life outcomes of low-income youth of color.
Dr. Thomas’ research has focused on the persistent trend that African American adolescents are issued school suspension and expulsion at higher rates than adolescents from other groups. Her research draws on qualitative methods and critical theories that highlight the intersectionality of exclusionary punitive school discipline, educational change within K-12 policies, and creating equitable access to quality education. She has published her research in scholarly journals and has presented her work at national educational conferences. During her doctoral studies at the University of Oklahoma, she was named the Outstanding Graduate Student in the education department. She was also selected as one of the recipients for the 2018 Hall of Fame at OU in the College of Education.