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Cari Thomas joined the Navy League of the United States team of staff and volunteers as its National Executive Director. In this capacity, she is responsible for the oversight and management of the national staff, and supporting the more than 39,000 civilians and 220 councils that work to assist sea service members and their families. She also has duties as Publisher, SEAPOWER magazine, one of the premier magazines that focuses exclusively on maritime-defense news. Cari is also passionate about investing in tomorrow's leaders and is grateful for the Navy League's Naval Sea Cadet Corps program with nearly 10,000 cadets in 46 states and territories.
Mrs. Thomas served her nation as a career Coast Guardsman, having achieved over 32 years as a commissioned officer culminating as a Rear Admiral. During her career, she earned command both afloat and ashore, including USCGC MANITOU and recruit Training Center Cape May. Rear Admiral Thomas also has experience in marketing, financial management, personnel, constituency services and disaster management. She represented the United States in a spectrum of duties including negotiating international agreements in the Arctic, providing capacity in the Central, Western and Southern Pacific, and broadening understanding of Coast Guard authorities in the Asia Pacific Indo region. Her flag assignments included Chief, Response (CG-5R), Chief, Human Resources (CG-1) and Commander, Coast Guard District 14 based in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was named a United States International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ambassador in 2015.
In both public and private capacities, Mrs. Thomas also served her community through volunteer programs such as English is a Second Language, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, gleaning crops to help feed families, and transporting shelter dogs. As a Board President, Chair, service advisor or Member, Cari has assisted a number of non-profit boards including: US Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, Sea Services Leadership Association, US Naval Institute, Red Cross of America, Hawaii Chapter, Girl Scouts of America, Hawaii Chapter, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, Coast Guard Non-Pay Compensation Board. Cari has been a stout advocate of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which has a broad volunteer base of 30,000 men and women.
Rear Admiral Thomas graduated with distinction from the Naval War College with a Masters of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. She earned a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Troy State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Coast Guard Academy. She has completed U. S. Naval War College joint and combined force courses, as well as executive education through Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Institute, at the Asia Pacific Center for Strategic Studies and the Department of Homeland Security’s Pacific Executive Leadership Program. Mrs. Thomas is currently pursuing additional education in NonProfit Executive Management from Georgetown University.
Cari Thomas’ personal awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Department of State Superior Honor Award, the Sea Services Leadership Association "North Star" award, and various other personal, unit and campaign awards. She earned permanent cutterman status in 1994. She is married to Commander Gary Thomas, USCG (retired), and has an adult daughter and son-in-law. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.