Geraldine F. Thompson - The Candidate
Representative Geraldine F. Thompson has devoted a great portion of her life to advocating for the rights of women, children, minorities and the disadvantaged. After receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami in 1970 and a Master of Science Degree from the Florida State University in 1973, Geraldine F. Thompson served youth for six years as an instructor in Orange County Public Schools. She later served for 24 years as an administrator at Valencia Community College where she established the College Reach Out Program which enabled thousands of low income and disadvantaged students to fulfill their dream of going to college. While at Valencia, Geraldine F. Thompson Founded the Florida Association of Community College Equity Commission and served as President of the Florida Association of Equal Opportunity Professionals.
Twenty five years after Geraldine F. Thompson initiated the College Reach Out Program at Valencia College, the Program had expanded and was operating at all State Colleges and Universities in Florida. She is also one of the founders of the Central Florida YMCA Black Achievers Program which pairs adult professionals with minority youth. Geraldine F. Thompson was one of the charter adult achievers mentors in 1990 and served youth through the YMCA Achievers program which continues to operate today. One of Representative Thompson’s greatest satisfactions in life is encountering former students and mentees who tell her of the impact that her work had on their lives.
Geraldine Thompson’s journey to service in the Florida Legislature took an unlikely route. She came to the Legislature in 1970 when her husband, Emerson R. Thompson, Jr., entered law school at the Florida State University College of Law. Once in Tallahassee, Geraldine began work as Executive Secretary to Representative Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry, the first African American woman elected in the history of Florida to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. After law school and graduate school, the Thompsons moved to Orlando in 1973 where Geraldine taught in Orange County Public Schools and served as President of the PTA at her children’s school. Thirty six years after beginning her work in the Florida Legislature as Secretary to Rep. Cherry, Geraldine F. Thompson was elected by the constituents of District 39 in Orlando as the first African American woman to represent Orange County in the Florida House of Representatives.
During 24 years as Director of Equal Opportunity and Assistant to the President of Valencia College, Geraldine F. Thompson worked to ensure that women and other underrepresented individuals were recruited and employed within every level of the institution. Because of her work to achieve equity and promote civil rights within education and other areas of the community, Governor Bob Graham appointed Geraldine F. Thompson to the Florida Commission on Human Relations in 1987. She received confirmation from the Florida Senate and remained on the Commission during the terms of Governor Bob Martinez and Governor Lawton Chiles during which time her fellow Commissioners elected her to serve as Chair.
As a member of the Florida Commission on Human Relations from 1987 - 1999, Geraldine F. Thompson worked to end gender bias throughout Florida and to ease intergroup tensions between Florida’s increasingly diverse populations. She helped to resolve complaints of gender, racial, age and other discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodations and housing.
To better understand and educate others regarding little known African American history in Central Florida, Geraldine F. Thompson conducted research and compiled documents which resulted in the publication of a book which she authored entitled Black America: Orlando, Florida in the Arcadia Publishing Series. Geraldine F. Thompson also worked to preserve one of Orlando’s unique landmarks, the Wellsbilt Hotel which, during segregation, provided lodging to some of America’s most prominent citizens including Justice Thurgood Marshall, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson and others. She helped to secure funds to convert the hotel into a museum which is known today as the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture.
Shortly after her election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2006, Geraldine F. Thompson was diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer. She continued to serve the citizens of Florida throughout her treatment. During her tenure in the Legislature, Rep. Thompson filed legislation to increase access to healthcare for uninsured and low income women diagnosed with breast cancer. As a survivor, she encouraged minority populations, which have higher mortality rates associated with breast cancer, to seek screening and treatment. Rep. Thompson filed legislation to outlaw the genital mutilation of young women, increase penalties for hate crime perpetrators, provide 1.8 million in trust fund monies for a student who was injured in a local public school and outlaw dangerous levels of cadmium in children’s jewelry, toys and child-care articles. In 2011, Rep. Thompson filed legislation to create the Ticket for the Cure which, if passed, would initiate an instant scratch off lottery ticket to fund breast cancer research, education and treatment in Florida’s State Universities.
On her birthday on November 18 in 2008, during her second term in the Florida House of Representatives, Geraldine F. Thompson was unanimously selected by her legislative colleagues to serve as the Democratic Leader Pro Tempore, the second highest ranking Democrat in the Florida House. Rep. Thompson served as a surrogate for Senator Barack Obama during his Presidential Campaign in 2008. She was a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado and served as a Presidential Elector during the 2008 Electoral College. Through her efforts working with other supporters, Geraldine Thompson provided an opportunity for students in American Government classes at Jones High School in the inner city of Orlando to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama in January of 2009. Representative Thompson continues to be a respected leader in the Florida House of Representatives where she serves on the K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, the Subcommittee on Federal Affairs, the Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism and as the Ranking Democrat on the Committee on Economic Affairs.
Geraldine F. Thompson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and grew up in the South Dade town of Perrine, Florida where members of her family worked in agriculture and construction. She attended Miami Dade Community College and received a John F. Kennedy/Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship to attend the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. In 1970, she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and business education. She received a Master of Science Degree in Communications from Florida State University. She is married to the Honorable Emerson R. Thompson, Jr. She is the mother of three children (Laurise, Emerson III, and Elizabeth) and the proud grandmother of four. She enjoys reading and traveling.
Rep. Thompson is a member the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators and the Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. She is the Florida Director of the Women Legislative Leaders (WiLL), a member of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative (NOBEL) Women, a member of the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL), and is a participant in the Stennis Center Forum on Southern Elected Women. Rep. Thompson serves or has served on the Boards of the Metropolitan Orlando Urban League, WMFE Public Broadcasting Station, the YMCA, the Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, the Holocaust Memorial, Education and Resource Center and the West Orange Healthcare District. She is the Founding President of the Association to Preserve African American Society, History and Tradition, Inc. (PAST) which operates the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture.
Representative Geraldine F. Thompson has been recognized and received awards from.
Geraldine Thompson For Senate
511 W. South Street
Orlando, FL 32805
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