411 Brand Foundation founder; John Thomas merged his love of sports, his drive for the community and over 20 years in the Youth Development industry into a passion with a purpose.
Growing up in Buffalo, NY, John developed his basketball skills and dominated high school basketball as an All-New York State athlete, receiving full scholarships to various schools across the country. John chose to make Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama the literal launching pad for what would be his athletic and educational career.
After an invitation to attend the NBA Summer League, John moved to Atlanta in 1992. Shortly thereafter, John met the Promotions Director at heritage radio station, V-103. It was during that meeting that a conversation turned into an opportunity for John to coordinate a Celebrity Basketball Game with Jamie Foxx, Brian McKnight and more. After a few months, John was offered the position of Promotions Coordinator and was responsible for promotions for V103 and WAOK radio.
In 1993, John created the 411 Knowledge & Entertainment Show which is a talk show that allows successful individuals from popular culture an opportunity to share their journey with young adults beginning their own journey. John produced over 50 shows throughout country and secured several partners to enhance his vision, including Magic Johnson Theaters and Sprite to name a few.
In 2002, John wanted to give back to the city that had made him the driven individual that he had become. He achieved that by hosting the annual 411 All-Star Weekend in Buffalo, New York by bringing together several generations from the Western New York community through several events and culminating with the 411 Elite Youth Basketball Games.
From 2004-2006, John accepted the position of Director of Programs at Carver Community Center in Schenectady New York. He was responsible for creating and implementing youth programming in the areas of athletics and education for young people ages 6-18 years old. In an effort to reunite with his roots in Atlanta, from 2006-2010, John accepted a position as Director of Programs at George Washington Carver Boys & Girls Club in the Edgewood section of Atlanta. He managed a staff of 10+ and was responsible for overseeing programming for over 100 kids a day.
It was this experienced, that led him to start the 411 Brand Foundation Inc., a 501c3 Non-Profit organization that provides quality programming to young people throughout the country in the areas of education, entertainment and athletics. Currently, the 411 Brand has programs in over 10 locations throughout metro Atlanta. Programs include: 411 Sports Academy (Lacrosse, Soccer, Basketball), 411 Dance Academy, 411 Music Academy, 411 Film Academy, 411 Session and the 411 Financial Literacy Academy.
John is a father that enjoys reading, traveling, and staying active by playing basketball, golf and working out daily. He has a 12-year-old son named Joshua.
Kandace L. Harris Chair
Kandace L. Harris is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Mass Media Arts at Clark Atlanta University. As chair, she is the academic manager of largest degree program at Clark Atlanta University which educates approximately 700 students pursuing careers in journalism, public relations, radio, television, film, and multimedia.
Dr. Harris’ baccalaureate teaching and administrative honors include being department chair at both Johnson C. Smith University and Shaw University, the 2012 recipient of the Shaw University Excellence in Academic Teaching Award, and Co-Director of the UNCF/Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute at Shaw University, “ Using Social Networks to Enhance Writing Across the Curriculum”.
She recently co-authored “Cloud Computing (and voter privacy)” in the Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. “Black History Dot Com: The Role of Social Media Technology in Linking the Black Atlantic in the Barack Obama Campaign in Global Migration, Technology & Transculturation and published “Using Social Networking Sites as a Student Engagement Tool” in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
Dr. Harris holds a B.A. in Print Journalism, and two advanced degrees from Howard University: the M.A. in Human Communication Studies; and the Ph.D. in Mass Communications & Media Studies.
Brandeis Malbrue Member
Brandeis is an accomplished business development executive with a proven expertise in building coalitions, coordinating marketing campaigns, and helping clients in the public and private sector to develop solid business solutions for success. With over ten years of experience in governmental affairs, she has a solid history of working closely with federal, state and local level elected officials to educate policymakers about the interests of corporate clients throughout diverse industries.
Brandeis is currently the Client Services Manager for Rohadfox Construction Control Services Corporation. In this role, she is responsible for managing multibillion dollar construction management contracts for government clients in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. She has successfully broadened new business opportunities with government entities such as aviation, transit, and water authorities. Brandeis began her career in governmental affairs in 2001 with the public relations firm, Georgia Capital Associates, LLC. She has more than 10 years of experience in monitoring and reporting on state and local level legislative issues on the behalf of the hotel, tourism, solid waste, and transportation industries in Georgia. She continued her work on behalf of others with her important contributions to corporations such as Allied Waste Services and Greenbow LLC, where she held positions as Account Executive and Governmental Affairs Representative. As an Account Executive at Allied Waste Services, Brandeis managed the recycling and solid waste disposal contracts in a number of municipalities which included cities in Cobb County, Fulton County, DeKalb County, Douglas County, Fayette County, Newton County and Rockdale County. She was project manager for two multi-million dollar solid waste handling facility development projects where she was responsible for building a project team of engineers, public relations consultants, attorneys, and construction partners.
In 2005 Brandeis relocated to Washington, D.C. to serve as Executive Director of Peaceoholics, Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to preventing youth violence in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Under her leadership the organization worked diligently to reduce recidivism of youth into the juvenile justice system in the Tri-State area and to successfully gain funding for programs to combat gang violence. She successfully raised more than $10,000 in public and private donor grant funding for organizational programming.
Tru Pettigrew Co-Chair
Tru Pettigrew is an award winning marketing executive, inspirational speaker and successful entrepreneur. Throughout his career, Tru has established himself as a thought leader and trusted voice with Corporate America through his Advertising and Marketing experience and is a regular speaker at industry conferences across thecountry.
Tru is the founder and CEO of Tru Access Consulting, which is an organization that bridges the cultural and generational gaps between Millennials and corporate brands and agencies. Tru focuses his gifts and talents on helping others to develop their gifts and talents by creating cultures and environments designed to Inspire & Empower individuals and organizations to maximize their potential.
Throughout his career, Tru has been featured in such prominent publications as The New York Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe and Fortune Magazine for his marketing expertise. Tru has held executive leadership positions with the nations top advertising and marketing agencies and created campaigns for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Some of the brands that Tru has developed successful and award winning campaigns for include Adidas, Nike, Timberland, Heineken, Moet-Hennessy and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just to name a few. Tru’s expertise also includes co-founding successful qualitative research agency Y-Access, which was acquired three years later and multicultural focused marketing agency Alloy Access, which is now Octagon Access.
Based on his passion and experience, Tru has quickly emerged as one of the nations top thought leaders and subject matter experts on Millennials, Leadership and Inclusion. Because of his unique insight and perspective, Tru is often called upon to share his thoughts and expertise on these topics.
Tru’s mantra is to Inspire and Empower in everything he does. He inspires with innovation and vision. He empowers with insight and solutions.