A well-known civic leader with a devotion to the arts, James Thomas was born in Pembroke, North Carolina. A Lumbee Indian, Mr. Thomas received his B.A. degree in economics with honors from Baldwin-Wallace University in 1959 and graduated from Cleveland Marshall Law School magna cum laude with a Juris Doctor degree in 1963. Mr. Thomas started his professional career as an attorney and practiced law for twenty years. In 1996 he founded the Thomas Property Group which went public in 2004 and merged with Parkway Properties in 2013.
Mr. Thomas founded the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship in 2005 with the belief that entrepreneurship drives economic growth and job creation. Residing in California, he and his wife Sally along with their family are committed to entrepreneurship and education, particularly in the Pembroke area of North Carolina. Mr. Thomas serves on the Board of Trustees for UNC Pembroke and is Chairman of the Board of the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship.