Laurita Thomas

Executive in Residence, Center for Positive Organizations

President, American Research Universities Human Resources Institute

Laurita Thomas is the President of the American Research Universities Human Resources Institute. She is responsible for executive development and leadership programming for the CHROs of 71 major research universities in the United States and Canada. Laurita Thomas retired from serving as the Associate Vice President for Human Resources at the University of Michigan. There she was responsible for human resource policy for all U-M campuses and a full range of comprehensive integrated human resource services, products, and operations. She was responsible for 330 staff, a budget of $36M, and a benefit plan of approximately $1B. She is best known for her work to create environments where people thrive, partnerships prevail, and performance excels.

Her professional human resources career spans roles in the financial industry, higher education, and healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan in political science and economics. Her graduate work is in guidance and counseling and business administration. She has published many articles and book chapters. Laurita has received many leadership and service awards, most recently HR Executive of the Year for the State of Michigan from the American Society of Employers and the CUPA-HR Distinguished Service Award.

Laurita has served as a leader in professional organizations including the ARU Human Resource Institute, Charter member and Treasurer; Higher Education Advisory Council (HEAC); TIAA–CREF Advisory Council; Fellow, TIAA-CREF Research Institute; CUPA-HR National Board Member; the Big Ten Academic Alliance Human Resources Officers; University Health System Consortium (UHC) Human Resources Officers Council Chair; and Medical Center Employee Relations Association President (MCERA). In the community, she has contributed through service organizations. She has served on the Mayor’s Commission on Increasing Safety for Women; the Executive Committee of the Washtenaw County Workforce Development Board; SOS Community Services Board Director Emeritus; Dance for PD Board, New York, NY; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Ann Arbor Alumnae Chapter President; Dispute Resolution Center, Board Vice-President; Girls Group Advisory Board; SafeHouse Center Board President; Ann Arbor Branch NAACP; Church School Superintendent and Steward, Bethel A.M. E. Church; Our House Advisory Board; Big Brothers, Big Sisters Advisory Council; and the Ann Arbor Chapter of The Links, Inc., President.

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