Knight Foundation Names Jennifer Thomas as Akron Program Director

AKRON – Jennifer Thomas, a non-profit executive who has helped fund and develop innovative ideas for revitalizing Northeast Ohio, has joined the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as Akron program director.

Thomas will work with local leaders to find and invest in opportunities for fostering an informed and engaged Akron.

“Jennifer has spent the last decade turning creative business and social ideas into reality. At Knight Foundation, she will find and create opportunities to inform and engage this community in its ongoing transformation,” said Trabian Shorters, Knight Foundation’s vice president for communities.

“I’m looking forward to using my experience in fostering innovation to help advance Knight Foundation’s focus on informed and engaged communities,” Thomas said.

Previously, Thomas launched and led the Cleveland-based Civic Innovation Lab, which provides mentorship and funding to civic, social and technology start-ups. Since its inception in 2003, the lab has granted over $1.5 million to 55 diverse and innovative start ups, 26 percent of which are successful companies. In 2008 alone, the investments and activities of the Civic Innovation Lab generated $9.4 million in economic output. Thomas also founded ClevelandClicks, a social networking group supporting and cultivating tech entrepreneurs. In addition, Thomas has worked as a financial analyst for Sony Music Entertainment and Pfizer.

Thomas has a bachelor’s in economics from Denison University and an MBA from New York University.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed, engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit

Contact: Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677; [email protected]