(Memphis, Tenn.) – Southwest Tennessee Community College recently announced two new leaders to its senior leadership team. Chuck Thomas III has been named the College’s chief government and external relations officer and John Churchill, community liaison for Southwest Workforce and Community Solutions.
“We are excited to have John and Chuck join the Southwest family,” Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall said. “They are outstanding leaders with a history of success and leadership in the Memphis and Mid-South community. They will play a critical role in advancing our strategic plan and efforts to position Southwest as a workforce development leader in the Mid-South.”
As the chief government and external relations officer, Thomas will build community support to advance the college’s initiatives and collaborate with government, civic, and community leaders to increase awareness and develop intervention and remediation strategies to address issues that impact the future health and safety of the Southwest community.
“I’m excited and honored to join the Southwest Tennessee Community College leadership team,” Thomas said. “I look forward to building and strengthening alliances with the greater Memphis and Shelby County community, state legislators, local elected officials and key business leaders.”
Thomas joins Southwest after a 40-year telecommunications career that spanned several account management positions. His most recent post was regional director of external and legislative affairs at AT&T, a position he held from 2009 until his retirement from AT&T this past December after more than 23 years of service. During his tenure in external affairs, he advanced the telecommunications giant’s public policy initiatives in Greater Memphis and 15 surrounding West Tennessee counties. His efforts ensured successful small cell and AT&T Fiber deployments and successfully positioned AT&T’s FirstNet, SLED and National Account teams with key stakeholders throughout the region. Thomas also served the Greater Memphis community as a board member of the Memphis Federal Reserve (Chairman 2014), Greater Memphis Chamber, The United Way of the Mid-South, Memphis Rotary (vice president), Teach For America, LISC Memphis, Bartlett Chamber and LeMoyne-Owen College. A native Memphian, Thomas grew up in Orange Mound and attended Melrose High school, Mississippi Valley State University, Southwest Tennessee Community College and the University of Memphis where he studied Criminal Justice and Political Science.
Churchill will be instrumental to the rollout of the Southwest Workforce Solutions Center (SWCS) as he works with community stakeholders to increase career pathways through a diversity of high-quality workforce programs that promote economic mobility for Southwest students.
“Coming back to Southwest feels like coming home,” Churchill said. “I am privileged to be able to work with a great staff as they develop innovative programs to provide local companies and industry with a skilled workforce. When you see a community that has a strong economy and great jobs for its workforce, typically, there is also a strong community college planted within that community,” he said. “I hope that I can contribute to the quality of Southwest’s workforce development programs and help increase the community’s awareness of Southwest as a strong economic driver in Memphis.”
Churchill began his career as a member of the United States Navy, where he served for 20 years. During his military service, he supervised testing and assessment systems for the Navy Trident submarine facility and directed operations for an advanced electronic training school. After the military, he joined the Kimberly Clark Memphis tissue manufacturing plant as supervisor of electrical maintenance and technical training. He also served on the startup team for Kimberly Clark’s first fully self-directed facility in Tulsa, OK. After stints in maintenance operations leadership with Champion Paper and Nabisco in Houston, Texas, Churchill joined Gerdau Ameristeel where he oversaw leadership and technical training at 20 North American steel mills.
Along with manufacturing, Churchill has extensive experience in workforce and economic development. In Memphis, he served as executive director of Corporate Training and Continuing Education at Southwest Tennessee Community College (2011-2015) and later as vice president of Business Services at the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce. His most recent post is chief operations officer for Technology Education to Go, LLC, where he helps area K-12 school districts, nonprofit organizations and businesses develop education pathways to livable-wage careers. Churchill also works with area businesses to improve work culture and increase employee skill levels.