Thomas Pierce, 31
Grand Rapids Pride Center
Thomas Pierce works to harness past lessons in empathy, integrity and courage as a leader.
Pierce — who has an M.P.A. degree in nonprofit management from Grand Valley State University, an M.S.W. from Spring Arbor University and a B.S. in public relations from Appalachian State University in North Carolina — has been a social worker, clinician and director with organizations such as Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and Hope Network, where said he was influenced by female bosses and co-workers to push through challenges when it would be easy to give up.
Prior to his role at the Pride Center, he spent five years as director of children’s residential services at Hope Network, where he learned his true passion lies in advocacy and empowering under-represented and vulnerable populations.
His goal when he joined the Pride Center was to expand the organization’s presence through community engagement and partnerships. Although its flagship event, the Grand Rapids Pride Festival, had to be canceled this year due to COVID-19, Pierce has been working hard to give more visibility to the small, grassroots nonprofit that provides social and support services for the vulnerable LGBTQ+ community in West Michigan.
Pierce also is a volunteer with Pleasant Hearts Pet Food Pantry; a member of the Grand Rapids Mayor’s Next Generation Millennial Advisory Board; the Metro Health Hospital Foundation ImpACT Board; and the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Goal Five Alliance, which is working to reinvest in public spaces, culture and inclusive programming in the center city.