BUZZ THOMAS is President of the Great Schools Partnership. He is also a member of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and Co-Chair of the Public School Forum of East Tennessee. He recently served as Interim Superintendent of the Knox County Schools. Before returning to Knoxville, Mr. Thomas co-founded and served as Executive Director of the Niswonger Foundation. He is also a minister, attorney, author and teacher.
Mr. Thomas is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Tennessee where he graduated first in his class. He earned a Master of Divinity from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he also graduated first in his class and was chosen as the school’s outstanding divinity student. Mr. Thomas received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee, College of Law where he was Order of the Coif and earned his Master of Laws from the University of Virginia.
As an attorney, Mr. Thomas has practiced at every level of state and federal courts including the United States Supreme Court. His clients have included the National Council of Churches, Southern Baptist Convention and Children’s Defense Fund. He has appeared as an expert witness before various committees of the United States Congress on numerous occasions.
As an educator, Mr. Thomas taught First Amendment Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He has lectured at Chautauqua, the Smithsonian, Harvard and Notre Dame. Mr. Thomas served two terms on the Maryville Board of Education completing three years as its chair. He is one of five board members of tnACHIEVES and has provided training to teachers and administrators from hundreds of school districts from North Carolina to California. While at the Niswonger Foundation, Thomas co-founded the prospective superintendents’ academy with the Tennessee School Board Association and served as a guest lecturer in that academy as well as in the University of Tennessee’s leadership academy. In 2014, he received UT’s Prometheus Educational Leadership Award.
Mr. Thomas is the author of “Finding Common Ground,” the First Amendment guide on religion and public education used by many of the nation’s public schools. His articles have appeared in a variety of national publications, and he has been a guest commentator on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, C-Span, and National Public Radio. He is married to the former Lisa Trammell of Oak Ridge. They have two grown daughters – Rachel and Sarah.