"When I first came to this community, I was green. Not in the sense of not know how to do a job, but how to navigate the social landscape of the Rochester community. I started my work at the Diversity Council, and George Thompson came to me with a project. This project had wide-scale implications. Mr. Thompson mentored me and helped me to figure out how I could use my best talents to further serve the success of this project. He taught how to leverage patience, and how to allow your abilities and skill sets unfold in a gentle and respectful way. This was the beginning of ultimate lesson he taught me: how develop and cultivate social capital. As I watched him move across the room, he could barely move a few feet before someone he had impacted articulated how he helped them, or how he connected them to resource they needed. I took a step back and said to myself, 'If I could develop a quarter of the relationships and goodwill this gentleman has obtained, how could I fail?' In learning from Mr. Thompson, I learned how to treat people with honor and that kindness is never wasted. People will always remember someone that treats them well. I am honored to know him, and to be one of the many young leaders he has mentored, and I will never forget his lessons."
--James W. Robertson, II, a Washington D.C. native, has been developing social and educational programming for close to two decades. Better known as Coach Rob, James’ experience in facilitating, presenting, training, and communication is extensive, with a special emphasis in cultural awareness and urban youth childhood development. In his 15-plus years as a trainer, he served 10 years active duty as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the US Army, where he trained and equipped over 190 soldiers while on active duty. While in Rochester, he developed curriculum, trained facilitators, and created workshops that are still currently being delivered to thousands of students in Rochester Public Schools and surrounding areas.
"George Thompson [a longtime community leader and former executive director of the Diversity Council] has been such a crucial part of my life. When I first moved here [from Arkansas in 1994] I set up a meeting with him and I said, 'It's a tradition in the Black community down South that an older gentleman in the community will take a young man under his wings. I have noticed what you do in the community. I would just like to ask you that from time to time if I need to sit down and talk with somebody, could it be you?' He said, 'Of course.' And that's how our friendship got started."
--Mitch Stevenson, former general manager of Chateau and CineMagic and Paragon theaters, musician, community volunteer--you probably recognize him from somewhere.
"When I think of George Thompson, I think of someone who has a vision. He helped [the Diversity Council] build that vision. He's been a very focused leader."
--Jon Eckhoff, talking about Thompson after George stepped down from the Diversity Council
"I think George is really the epitome of community-building. Without the Diversity Council and without George's leadership, I don't think we would have the dialogue that we have today or the various groups of people who would be willing to work together."
--Dottie Hecht, who worked with George on the anti-racism Not In Our Town campaign, speaking during a tribute dinner to honor George Thompson