FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- ABC30 is celebrating Black History Month by honoring local trailblazers in the Central Valley.
As Dorothy Thomas rose in her banking career, she lifted others. Specializing in small business loans, this trailblazer is responsible for more than $600 million in Small Business Administration funded projects and 8,000 jobs created or retained in the Central Valley.
Over the past 30 years, Thomas provided access to capital to many who struggled to get business loans approved. Her empathy and wisdom made a difference as she walked clients through the process.
Thomas was born and raised in Flint, Michigan and moved to Fresno in 1982. Her impact can be seen through the businesses that have flourished in the valley. She once helped an Indian American worker who dreamed of owning his own Subway franchise. With her support and guidance, he now owns 14.
Early in her career, Thomas noticed loan applications from African Americans were not getting to her desk. She learned the issue was at the banks. She made the decision to be at the front lines of the loan process. Over the years she has made it a mission to guide women and people of color in underserved communities.
Thomas retired in January as Senior Vice President at Central Valley Community Bank and SBA Department Manager. That doesn't mean she is done helping others. She still sits on three local boards including Access Plus Capital. Thomas has been a part of several economic development and social justice organizations including the Cen Cal Business Finance Group board of directors, Fresno Metro Black Chamber, CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), her local CDFI (Access Plus Capital), Fresno West Coalition for Economic Development, Valley Small Business Development Center, and SCORE.
In 2020, Thomas was named one of the Top Ten Professional Women by Marjaree Mason Center in Fresno and earned top honors as Coleman's 2020 SBA Main Street Lender of the Year.