Terence A. Thomas


Strategic Planning Quarterback, Grassroots Relationship Architect, Collaboration Wizard

A knack for building relationships with top influencers, combined with his ability to mobilize at a grassroots level, make Terence a powerful partner to have in your corner. Proactive communication is his strength.

As a trained lawyer and business leader, Terence has utilized his negotiation, political and relationship-building skills to provide outstanding and proactive service to his clients and the organizations with whom he has been affiliated.

When Terence arrived at St. John Providence Health System (an Ascension Health Ministry) in 2003, the health system’s primary road to government advocacy was built more on reaction than action. The model was hardly fitting for Michigan where 1 in 8 hospitalized patients is cared for at an Ascension Health Ministry. Nor was it appropriate for a highly regulated industry, which gets more than 60 percent of its revenue from government payers.

As the chief advocacy and corporate responsibility officer, it was his charge to position the system so that it could better engage its stakeholders in a manner that made those voices heard at the legislative and grassroots level. He created the Advocacy Action Network, an undertaking that streamlined a process that previously only included senior leadership. It shifted a clunky, top-down effort involving only 250 associates to a more open effort that included more than 13,000 associates and stakeholders.

The result of that larger, more collective and unified constituency: the ability to mobilize 13,000 stakeholders when necessary, or to target alerts to associates within a certain clinical unit that may be impacted by pending legislation. The alerts also told administrators whether or not a recipient opened the message and had responded.

He also led a team that helped to shepherd through two projects that initially struggled because of opposition. Providence Park Hospital opened successfully in Novi in 2008 after his legal team successfully thwarted their opponents, and they obtained increased reimbursement for Detroit eastside physicians. Moreover, he routinely led collaborative efforts with top competitors.

Beyond raising the voices tied to the system, he also made significant outreach to the community as a whole. He spent years connecting with grassroots and other organizations that were within close proximity to Ascension Health facilities throughout Michigan. Moreover, at his departure St. John Providence Health System counted at least a dozen community groups as strategic partners and more than 100 had been assisted in part through his advocacy.

Others have acknowledged his innovation and collaborative efforts:

  • In 2008, Crain’s Detroit Business identified him as one of Southeast Michigan’s “40 under 40” to watch.
  • The magazine characterizes its list as “the best and brightest that have made their marks before age 40.”
  • In June 2009, The Michigan Chronicle also recognized him as one of the area’s “Men of Excellence.”
  • He received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce for his leadership of the Chamber PAC.
  • Recently, the entrepreneur organization Fusion awarded him the Horizon Award for his commitment to mentoring emerging business owners.