LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Jackson College announced Friday it is swearing in a new member of its Board of Trustees.

Teshna Thomas will complete the term through December 2024 that was left open by former trustee Sam Barnes, who moved out of state for another job.

Thomas, originally from Albion, comes to the board with nearly 20 years of experience at Henry Ford Jackson Hospital. As the hospital’s community engagement director, she built relationships with stakeholders and helped boost the hospital’s positive reputation. Thomas said she will bring that same skillset to the college.

“A key point of interest for me is making sure that students who typically don’t see an option to go to college, are provided that opportunity — helping the community at large in terms of getting an education,” Thomas said. “It’s important that we’re getting the word out to students and helping them navigate that journey.”

Thomas said that engaging with students and the community will be key. “The people who are closest to the problem are the ones we need to be sure we are paying attention to,” she said. “Talk to the people. That’s the thing, talk to the people.”

Thomas also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Experience Jackson and Advocates and Leaders for Policy and Community Trust, which works to bring together community members and police. She is involved with Leadership Jackson, Lean Rocket Lab, Human Service Coordinating Alliance and Michigan Diversity Council.

She has a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Administration from Concordia University, Ann Arbor, and associate and bachelor’s degrees in business from Cornerstone University. She is a certified Officer of Healthcare Compliance.