West LA College Professor Invited to Oxford Round Table
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Staff Writer
Oxford University in England has always been held as one of the world's finest institutions and for one local professor, it was the sight for another highlight in her career.
Gwen-Marie Thomas, a long-time professor of business and management at West Los Angeles Community College, was one of only 42 women invited to the Oxford Round Table, held this past July at St. Anne's College on the university campus.
Noted women from around the world were invited to the conference, which focused on issues that affected women careers worldwide.
On the third day, Thomas hosted a round table discussion after two early morning panels discussed gender differences in motivation and unethical behavior as well as research into gender discriminations of institutions of higher learning.
She was selected "for her leadership in promoting women issues" according to the official release from the convention. It also cited her longtime work and interest in developing future African-American leaders in business, leadership, public policy and community affairs.
Now starting her 20th year at West LA College, where she received her associates degree before receiving her bachelor's and masters at Cal-State Dominguez Hills, she is continuing her goal of developing future leaders by looking at the "whole person"
It's a method that works on shaping lives academically, socially, culturally, globally, politically, financially and spiritually. Thomas has carried it out by taking her students to different exhibitions for various learning opportunities as well as leading by example with her various volunteer efforts.
Her work has seen her receive numerous awards, including a day in her honor proclaimed by then-Governor Gray Davis in 1998 and the J.D. Springer
Distinguished Community Service Award from her alma mater, Frederick Douglass High School in Memphis.
In addition to teaching full-time, she was the Vice-Chair of the Business Department, councilmember of the school's UMOJA Student Program, among other titles.
Thomas has come a long way for her days growing up in Memphis. She's also proof that it's never too late to pursue education, having entered West LA College when she was 26. Despite facing challenges resuming her studies nearly a decade after graduating high school, she persevered and never gave up.
After the Los Angeles riots of 1992, she founded and coordinated the West Angeles Literacy Empowerment Team (WALET) through her home church, West Angeles Church of God In Christ.
WALET taught homeless citizens, inmates and adults to read and write while instilling life skills. At one point, it was named the largest volunteer group in the city.
All of that laid the foundation for Thomas to be where she is today, now having been privileged to say that she led a panel and was invited to discuss global and local issues at one of the most prestigious schools in the world.Â Â Â Â