Syga Thomas, the founding chair of the Thomas Foundation, is an Academy of Achievement fellow and was a US Diplomat for the Department of State between 2008 and 2015. With the Foundation, Syga Thomas is committed to improving lives and preparing young people to become agents of transformative change. To that end, he serves as chairman of the Thomas Foundation, a growing nonprofit that supports art, health and leadership in the District and around the world.
Syga Thomas is founder and CEO of Maedwell Companies. His responsibilities include overseeing the firm’s day-to-day operations, benchmarking and implementing new policies and procedures, and setting a strategic vision that incorporates the needs and values of the firm’s employees, clients and community. Thomas is also responsible for managing and developing District Maids and Maedwell Residential Services, Inc., of which he is founder and principal.
Thomas earned an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and subsequently received an MA in international economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Before founding this family of companies, Thomas served for several years in the U.S. State Department. As a diplomat for the foreign service, he first worked as a desk officer for Bolivia. He then served at a number of overseas posts, including South Korea, Niger, Pakistan and Spain.
Syga Thomas’ overseas work remains foundational to his worldview. At each post, he studied the language and culture of his host country, learning to appreciate the perspectives and concerns of its populace without losing sight of his overriding directive: protecting and advancing the interests of his home country, the United States. During his time abroad, Thomas gained proficiency in a number of languages, including French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Urdu and Hindi.
With each successive foreign service post, Thomas took on new projects and responsibilities. Along with the rest of the nation’s diplomatic corps, Thomas helped shape the United States’ relationships with key allies and partner countries.
In Niger, Thomas served as the U.S. ambassador’s principal adviser on political issues and the mission’s lead advocate for human rights and democracy—a key issue in a country that has seen a significant degree of political instability in recent decades.With each successive foreign service post, Thomas took on new projects and responsibilities. Along with the rest of the nation’s diplomatic corps, Thomas helped shape the United States’ relationships with key allies and partner countries.
In South Korea, Thomas served as the political/military officer at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. His duties in this role included engaging politicians, members of civil society, business leaders and other stakeholders in some of the most pressing issues of our time. Operating in the shadow of North Korea, Thomas worked to advance such critical causes as nuclear energy and nonproliferation, international migration, and bilateral trade between South Korea and the United States.
Following his retirement from the foreign service, Thomas returned to Washington, D.C., and reinvented himself as an entrepreneur. He founded and grew District Maids, Maedwell Residential Services and Maedwell Companies. He is proud to play a key role in the ongoing growth and development of the District and surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia. He also serves on the board of directors of Dupont Underground and mentors students as an adviser with the Columbia University Career Coaches Network.