John Thomas brings more than 30 years of public communication experience, and a deep understanding of government public affairs to Ward Circle Strategies, advising clients on media relations, crisis communication, internal and employee communications, strategic messaging and speechwriting. His career includes time a journalist, instructor of journalism, public speaking instructor, and as a lead spokesperson on national security, human resources, nuclear forces, transportation, refugee operations and wartime issues.

Before coming to Ward Circle from jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s global media team, John’s 27 years in the U.S. Air Force culminated in his retirement as a colonel in charge of public affairs for U.S. Central Command. In that role he was the 4-star commander’s lead public information and international media liaison and spokesperson during the fight against ISIS, and ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to that assignment, John served as lead NATO spokesman in Afghanistan.

Air Force assignments included serving as the group commander, and “the mayor” of Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, caring for more than a billion dollars of F-16 fighter jets along with the pilots, support personnel and families who keep them running. –. In addition, the base’s large training range was home to endangered Red-Cockaded woodpeckers who required nearly as much care as the aircraft who flew over them every day.

Assigned to Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, he ran international media operations for Saddam Hussein’s first courtroom appearance, and supported the UN administering the first elections in Iraq’s history. Early in his career, John deployed to Panama where he was media relations content lead for a massive refugee effort called Operation Safe Haven. On emergency loan to FEMA, he ran DHS’s headquarters Hurricane Katrina press operations center in Baton Rouge.

John served three times as the director of public affairs for 3- and 4-star headquarters commanders, including for the nation’s nuclear missile and strategic bomber forces at Air Force Global Strike Command, a job that got the attention of the White House more often than he’d like to remember.

He’s collected three Masters Degrees – one from the University of Virginia, and two from the Air Force’s Air University.

Career Highlights:

  • U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Professional of the Year, 2009
  • Air Force Global Strike Command, Director of Public Affairs
  • Air Mobility Command, Director of Public Affairs
  • U.S. Air Force National Media Liaison, New York City
  • U.S. Central Command, Director of Public Affairs, Spokesman and Media Advisor to the Commander

3 Fun Facts:

  • Met both George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein (but not at the same time)
  • Both of his wife Stephanie’s grandfathers served in WWII, one in the Pacific as a medic, one as B-24 pilot in Europe; as did one of her grandmothers, a Navy medical technician. His father and father-in-law both served in Vietnam. His and Stephanie’s oldest son currently serves in the Air Force
  • Claims to have helped homeschool their six kids, when in fact Stephanie did all of it…as well as taking on all family responsibilities while he traveled the world earning medals. The medals should have been presented to Stephanie.
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