Dr. Cynthia A. Thomas, President of St. Mary’s Dominican High School, was honored by Girl Scouts Louisiana East with the Outstanding Woman Award. The award presentation was at the first annual Girl Scouts Juliette Low Leadership Luncheon that celebrates outstanding individuals, businesses and organizations that exemplify the legacy of Girl Scouts of the USA’s founder, Juliette Low, on the anniversary of her birth, which falls on Halloween. Low outgrew the trappings of an upper-class society life to create an organization for young women, and integrated leadership, self-confidence, responsibility, integrity, decision-making, teamwork, outdoor skills, philanthropy and equality for all. The luncheon also recognized a Girl Scout volunteer who impacts the greater community with the Minnie Finley Award.
“The award recipients were selected based on the positive impact they have on the children in our communities. Each recipient has not only supported Girl Scouts, but they have empowered girls and women of the New Orleans community, in general,” said Jackie Daniels ’61, a member of the luncheon committee. Fellow committee members are Toya Brown-Robertson, Mary Jane Becker ’57, and Genny May. Other awards presented were for Outstanding Man, Outstanding Business/Foundation, Outstanding Business/ Educators and the Minnie Finley Award.
Dominican’s president since 1997, Dr. Thomas has served many years in Catholic education, holding positions in faculty and administration. Prior to becoming president, she served as school principal for five years. She was also assistant principal and a faculty member at Brother Martin High School. At Dominican and at Ursuline Academy Elementary School, she was on the faculty. Currently, she serves on the Executive Board of the Dominican Association of Secondary Schools, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Greater New Orleans Board of Directors, and the Archbishop Shaw Advisory Council. Dr. Thomas received a Doctor of Education from Spalding University, Master of Education from University of Holy Cross, and Master of Religious Education from Loyola University New Orleans. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Nicholls State University.
In 2013, Dominican launched the school’s STREAM™ initiative. Dominican’s STREAM™ initiative uniquely responds to the need of more fully preparing students for college with a foundation in Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math, by integrating faith and reason, the arts and the humanities. As a Dominican Catholic school, Dominican believes these academic disciplines, especially science, serve their highest purpose when informed by teachings of the Catholic Church. The STREAM™ initiative thoroughly integrates the school’s mission with the needs of students in the modern world. STREAM™ continues Dominican’s unique role in the formation of students into believing thinkers and thinking believers.
In her acceptance speech, Dr. Thomas called Dominican’s STREAM™ initiative,
Dominican’s specific way of doing STEM within our school’s specific mission – being Dominican and Catholic, and our specific way of nurturing leadership, building character, fostering collaboration and providing experiences that build courage.
The Founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, was born on this day in 1860, which coincidentally, is the same year that the Dominican sisters arrived in New Orleans from Cabra Ireland. The founder of the Girl Scouts, and founders of schools like Dominican, seem to have characteristics that enabled them to recognize the needs of the times, and to respond courageously with inspirational, generative, and collaborative initiatives. Moreover, as we know, their work on behalf of girls lasted well beyond their lifetimes. Their work was inspired by their unique vision for girls and inspired women to adapt their work to meet the needs of a changing world.
Is not that what leadership is – inspirational, collaborative and life giving? It prepares for the next generation by working with young girls of today – inspiring, encouraging, and empowering them to imagine possibilities in serving as strong leaders who improve our society.
As leaders who carry on the mission of our founders, you continue your work serving 15,000 girls with Girl Scouts in Louisiana in 26 civil parishes, and schools like St. Mary’s Dominican continue Catholic education. We can be inspired by the words from the letter written to the Philippians. May our thoughts ‘be wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent virtuous, or worthy of praise.’