|By Ann Coppola, News Reporter|
Corrections professionals in Ohio are mourning the loss of Warden Jacqueline Thomas, who died of a heart attack last Sunday. A memorial service including presentations by local color guards and remarks from Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction director Terry Collins was held last week.
Since 2002, Thomas served as warden of Ohio’s North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility. The Texas native previously served as deputy warden of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution.
Thomas was well-known for establishing the mentoring and information program Women in Corrections, which encourages women to enter the corrections profession. She was a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Women Executives in Corrections.
Thomas also was an active participant in the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents (NAAWS). NAAWS president Mark Saunders attended the memorial service last week.
“Jackie Thomas lived the reality that we are in the people business,” Saunders said. “She understood that corrections done best is accomplished through relationships. Jackie greeted everyone with a hug and a smile. She loved life and she loved corrections, but mostly she loved the people.”
According to Saunders, Thomas was a soft-mannered and highly respected leader who, when taking on a problem, never had to raise her voice.
“Only her eyebrows,” he added.
Thomas was a strong advocate for women’s health issues in her community, and encouraged staff to contribute time and money to women's health causes. She hosted health fairs and served on a variety of community boards and commissions dedicated to initiatives addressing this topic.
The 20-year corrections veteran is survived by her husband, five children and six grandchildren. Donations in Thomas’ honor are being accepted for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.
Monetary donations may be sent to:
Attention: Debbie Hill
2000 S. Avon Belden Road
Grafton, OH 44044
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