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Published December 11, 2017
Jason Thompson, the first elected black Associated Students of the University of Wyoming (ASUW) president during the 1996-97 academic year, is the keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Dialogue (MLK DOD) celebration early next semester.
Thompson and Dominick Martinez, who served as Thompson’s vice president, were the first two men of color elected to the top positions for ASUW, the university’s student government. Thompson is the director of diversity and inclusion for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. Serving in that role since April 2012, Thompson is responsible for creating and managing the USOC’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives.
“50 Years: Reflecting on Our Progress” is the theme for the 15th annual MLK DOD Jan. 29-Feb. 3. Thompson will discuss his work as ASUW president and his career during the keynote address Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Ballroom.
MLK DOD events are scheduled at later dates than in previous years and coincide with the return of students for the start of the spring semester Monday, Jan. 22. Events each year are offered to raise awareness of diversity issues, build a sense of community and celebrate diversity.
UW community members honor the continuing impact of King and his life and ideals through this celebration. The week of activities renews UW’s commitment to making the campus and Wyoming a more welcoming and empowering place for people from different backgrounds, heritages, orientations and abilities, according to the MLK DOD committee.
A 25-year veteran in the area of diversity and inclusion programs, Thompson previously served as vice president of diversity and community health improvement at INTEGRIS Health in Oklahoma City.
The diversity and inclusion programs developed by Thompson have won several awards at the local and international levels. Most recently, the D&I Scorecard developed by him received the top honor in the 2016 International Innovations in Diversity Awards program from the Profiles in Diversity Journal.
Thompson also was a 2017-18 Diversity Leader by the Profiles in Diversity Journal. In 2015, the USOC D&I department received the Diversity Champion Award for Excellence from the Colorado Society for Human Resource Management.
He also was director for the Office of Diversity at the University of Colorado-Denver and Health Sciences Center. In 2006, he established the Undergraduate Pre-Health Program (UPP) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical campus, which earned honorable mention for the 2013 Examples of Excelencia for its work to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. The UPP program was recognized for the impact, innovative and promising approach that it has had on Latino students.
He has served on local, regional and national committees for multiple organizations, including the Diversity and Inclusion Sports Consortium, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, Oklahoma Diversity Officers and Practitioners Consortium, United States Commission on Civil Rights advisory board and the Center for African-American Health.
Thompson earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in sociology, both from UW, and he is a graduate of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School executive training program.
An award named after him, the Jason Thompson Commitment to Diversity Award, is given annually to a UW faculty, staff, student or community member who exemplifies a strong commitment to diversity and/or social justice. Nominees are individuals who selflessly worked to serve the greater good of the community or cause.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, a Wyoming native, have two children.
Other MLK DOD events during the week include the annual march and supper; a dialogue supper at the Washakie Dining Center; David Bradley’s “This is Indian Country” exhibition, hosted by the UW Art Museum; a book discussion; a student attorney First Amendment presentation; the film “Marshall,” based on the life of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; a service day; and the annual Diversity Ball.
For more information, visit the MLK DOD webpage at www.uwyo.edu/studentaff/mlkdod/.