Director of Partnerships and Replication
Stephan M. Thomas is a dynamic force driving change at the intersection of justice and community empowerment. As the Director of Partnerships and Replication at Common Justice, he collaborates with visionary leaders nationwide, to pioneer innovative solutions to violence that are rooted in restorative justice principles.
With a multifaceted background, spanning roles as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and law professor, Stephan’s evolution led him from the trenches of the legal system to a fervent advocate for designing community driven responses to violence. Raised on Chicago's South Side, during the height of the war on drugs, he experienced community and systemic violence, forging his understanding of the vital role of holistic support in nurturing healing and transformation.
Stephan began his legal career as a prosecutor in Seattle, driven by the vision of igniting change from within. During his years as a front-line prosecutor, Stephan bore witness to countless examples of how prosecutorial culture and a dependence on incarceration compromised community safety, further intensifying the root causes of violence. Recognizing the urgency and potential for change, he partnered with community-based organizations to divert cases of serious violence, reform bail practices, and transform prosecutorial success metrics.
Recognized for his impact he was promoted to his office’s Executive Team, where he served as Director of Community Justice Initiatives, and he was honored with the 2018 Vanguard Leader of the Year award from his alma mater Seattle University School of Law.
In 2019, Stephan joined a national organization that designed experiential learning opportunities for frontline prosecutors, spreading the transformative work he was doing in Seattle to other jurisdictions. These initiatives included a visit to prison for a restorative dialogue with currently incarcerated individuals, a poverty simulation, and facilitated conversations on dismantling institutional racism. Stephan also taught criminal law at Seattle University and served as a defense attorney for individuals accused of violent offenses.
Beyond his advocacy, Stephan is an intrepid explorer, having traversed 35 countries across nearly every continent. His holistic approach to life finds expression in leadership coaching, somatic practices, yoga, mysticism, martial arts, and culinary pursuits. Stephan's and his life partner Angeline share 15 years of marriage and together they have an eight-year-old son, Xavier.