Former CEO of 100 Black Men Thomas Dortch, dead at 72
Thomas Dortch, Jr., the influential Atlanta businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist who rose to become chairman of 100 Black Men of America, died Wednesday at the age of 72.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens commented on his passing saying, “Long before we called it diversity, equity and inclusion, Tommy was hard at work in that space. In matters of equity, not too much happened here that Tommy wasn’t involved in. Tommy was a connector and a facilitator. He knew how to get the right people together to make something good happen for Atlanta.”
Dortch was the CEO of the consulting firm TWD, Inc. and Atlanta Transportation Systems, Inc., a Fulton County paratransit company.
Born on April 12, 1950, in Toccoa, Georgia to Lizzie Dortch and Thomas W. Dortch Sr., he graduated from Whitman Street High School in 1968. Dortch attended Fort Valley State University where he graduated in 1972 with a B.A. in sociology. While on that campus, Dortch served as student body president and once registered over 96% of the campus to vote.
In 1974, Dortch became associate director of the Georgia Democratic Party where he developed his interest in helping and representing small businesses, minorities, and other marginalized communities. Dortch began working as an administrative aide for U.S. Senator Sam Nunn in 1978, and eventually became his state director and chief administrator. With his appointment, he became the first African-American to have that role for any U. S Senator.
While earning a master’s degree in criminal justice from Atlanta University, he joined the 100 Black Men of America in 1986. He was elected to six terms as the national chairman of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. He would go on to serve as chairman emeritus. As its chairman, Dortch raised nearly $100 million over 20 years. The organization’s headquarters, on Auburn Avenue, now bears his name.
In addition to his work with 100 Black Men, Dortch worked with the Atlanta Business League, was an advocate for the Atlanta Public Schools, and founded the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., and co-founded the Georgia Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (GAME), and the Greater Atlanta Economic Alliance.
Dortch served on the board of trustees for Leadership Atlanta, was vice chairman of the board for the Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation, was chairman of the board for Friendship Force International, and chairman of the board for the Fulton/DeKalb County Hospital Authority. He sat on the board of trustees for Operation Hope, Florida A&M University, Talladega College, and Clark Atlanta University, and was chairman of the board for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
Clark Atlanta President, George T. French, Jr., Ph.D. issued the following statement:
The Clark Atlanta University family sadly announces the transition of alumnus, supporter, dear friend, and Board of Trustee member, Thomas W. Dortch, Jr.
“Trustee Dortch was a pillar within the nation, while also wielding international influence. Such influence was exhibited through his commitment to civic engagement and economic empowerment for African Americans across the Diaspora.
As a servant leader dedicated to improving the quality of life for African Americans and other minorities, Trustee Dortch prioritized higher education attainment, mentoring, and the deliberate engagement of upward mobility strategies and training opportunities for the beloved community. Thank you Trustee Dortch, for exemplifying our “Culture for Service,” while “Finding a Way or Making One,” when necessary.”
Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.