I have always believed that if you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen. 50CAN allows me to live those values every day.
Dallas Thompson is a tenth-generation North Carolinian, proudly descended from immigrants and rabble-rousers.
After serving two terms in AmeriCorps as a civic engagement coordinator, Dallas worked for a variety of nonprofits, including the Girl Scouts, the AJ Fletcher Foundation and the New Organizing Institute. Dallas comes directly from her work on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, where she served as the North Carolina director of operations. Before the campaign, she worked at the Leadership for Educational Equity as the national manager of candidate fundraising development, where she was truly bitten by the education advocacy bug. She believes that every child is deserving of an excellent education and is committed to the fierce urgency of that need.
Dallas is a proud graduate of Peace College, an all-women’s school in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she majored in history and minored in political science. She also earned her certificate of nonprofit management from Duke University. When Dallas isn’t working, she spends times with her two ragdoll cats, Mindy Katling and Ruth Bader Kittensburg, and enjoys reading, watching formulaic law enforcement TV dramas (NCIS marathon anyone?) and buying all the shoes.
I aspire to be like Terry Sanford. Here’s why:
Terry Sanford was the Governor of North Carolina from 1961 to 1965. In his tenure, he focused on overhauling the educational system in North Carolina at every single level. His education reforms became a national model and a sign of a new, progressive south. He left no child unserved, establishing Governor’s School as a summer program serving gifted teenagers—I’m an alum of Governor’s School 2002 myself! He advocated for children with special needs, created a school for the deaf and blind, and revolutionized the state’s community college system. He established the North Carolina School of the Arts, the first state-supported conservatory for the arts in the South. Many of these programs later were modeled by states across the country. His passion and commitment to every child and their particular gifts was ceaseless and motivates me every day.
Why I love my job:
Having the opportunity to invest in the success, happiness and future of children— regardless of their zip codes—is incredible. I have always believed that if you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen. 50CAN allows me to live those values every day.
My connection to public schools:
When I was in fifth grade at an underfunded public school in rural North Carolina, my teacher called my mom. I had never been in trouble in school in my life, so my mom was surprised. The teacher asked my mother a simple question: “Is there anywhere else your child can go to school?”
She saw that I was smart, thoughtful, and passionate about learning. She also saw that my needs weren’t being met by my tiny elementary school and she believed that if I could go somewhere else, a world of possibility would be open to me. My mother was a single, working mom who faced a lot of challenges in her life. But she was resourceful and determined. She registered me at a school 15 miles south, using a friend’s address. In my new district, I was taken to see the opera and symphony, performed hands-on science experiments, was in a cutting-edge technology classroom and was exposed to a world of curiosity and exploration.
15 miles shouldn’t make or break a future, but the reality is that we know it does—and that’s what draws me to 50CAN’s mission and work.
What I'm bad at:
Cooking. I’m awful, just terrible. My dad says that if you can read, you can follow a recipe and cook, but I am the one who disproves this hypothesis.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
My grandmother was an advocate and organizer who fought for women’s rights, children’s welfare, and the opportunity for the disabled to live full and supported lives. I am so proud to follow in her footsteps and work to make the world better. My mother finished her college degree when I was five after years of part-time study. She was a recovering addict and living with AIDS, and she never stopped advocating for the dignity of people living with the disease. When I was younger, she would tell her friends to watch out: I was going to change the world. Every day, I carry these two remarkable women with me while I work to be an effective changemaker. They both knew the importance of education, equality dignity for all. I work at 50CAN because I believe in those things too, and I know 50CAN is doing critical work to bring those realities to our public schools for all kids.