Thompson Speaks on Leadership in Current Climate

Thompson Speaks on Leadership in Current Climate

Lindsey Beck
Thursday, June 25, 2020 12:00 AM
TBR, Community, Employees

Women's Basketball Head Coach Evelyn Thompson has always been committed to serving the community around her and using her position of leadership to help others and speak up for change. In her most recent engagement on Friday, Thompson got to encourage others on what leadership should look like in a tough social climate as she was chosen as a keynote speaker for East Lansing, Mich. IT company AJ Boggs' Lunch and Learn Series.

AJ Boggs specializes in solving problems by creating apps that help companies with information automation and security compliance along with allowing for a place for secure file security. The company's mission statement, according to their website, is to be "a leader in IT solutions and services that improve lives." Thompson, who used to live in East Lansing, knows company CEO Clarke Anderson from her time living there, as they met through their childrens' athletic events, and after some past conversations they have had, Anderson knew she would have great things to say on leadership and slated her for a lecture.

AJ Boggs Client Services Associate Tonia Williams said the Lunch and Learn Series has been offered since October of 2019 and provides employees with a lecture for professional development twice a week. Just recently in May, though, AJ Boggs moved the series to weekly to, as Williams stated, "keep everyone connected and get the community involved" in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thompson's Lunch and Learn series lecture was the company's first to be opened up for non-employees to attend. 30 AJ Boggs employees, various IT professionals, and friends of Thompson's attended the event on Zoom, in which Thompson discussed leadership in light of COVID-19, social justice and issues of racial equality. Thompson framed leadership by using examples from her time coaching and what she requires of the women on her team. She also called on everyone everywhere to be a leader, no matter how many they will lead. Thompson also fielded questions and engaged discussion from the viewers on various topics of leadership, especially in light of racial and social issues, including books to read, how to stand up for those you are leading, how they could be an ally and how to be a catalyst for change. She was also able to read some of her own poetry on racial injustice. 

"I want my team to be a place where ALL of my players can thrive," Thompson said in her lecture of her leadership style. "My heart, mind, and vision need to be open. All players have the same rights and responsibilities. They are all responsible to and for each other. They have a voice, and they should use it. If their teammates feel they don't have a voice, we come together and talk about it. We find solutions and move forward. Everyone is encouraged to be a leader. I don't want just one or two leaders, I want everyone to be a leader and to understand the power of what goes into being a leader."

Williams also spoke to how much it means to AJ Boggs to have Thompson speak in their series. "We want to learn from her leadership skills and whatever she has learned over the years. Evelyn brings an aspect of leadership that covers points that we didn't cover already or something we have covered but she emphasizes more. Her lecture also took place on Juneteeth, so there's another aspect to her presentation that will speak to the pairing of leadership and social justice. She shares a special perspective on social justice and the social climate that has brought upheaval to our society."

The opportunity to speak for the group in attendance meant the world to Thompson. "It is always about challenging myself to set the example and be the example when I am in charge of shaving the lives of young women and young people in general, I have a responsibility to speak up to make things better for them," said Thompson. "I'd never ask one of my players to do something I haven't done myself. Everytime I have an opportunity to be a positive voice for change, I have to take it. To see all these people on the call welcome the conversation with open eyes and ears, I appreciate that. I hope this will lead them to speak out and add to the voices protesting and the demand for equality as well."

For more information on AJ Boggs' company and Lunch and Learn series, visit


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