As of July 1, 2014 Lori Thomas is commissioner for the Heart of America Athletic Conference. As the first female conference commissioner in the history of NAIA, she serves as the chief administrative officer for the conference.
Beginning in 1998, Lori worked with the NAIA as a Marketing Assistant and was quickly promoted through the ranks to Senior Vice President for Membership and Character Initiatives. Her responsibilities included leading efforts for membership recruitment and retention, achieving greater efficiencies and consistency in delivery of the Champions of Character program and advancing student-athlete experiences within national championships.
Prior to joining the NAIA, Lori served as an assistant volleyball coach at Missouri State (1993-1996) and the University of Tulsa (1996-1998).
Born and raised in Kansas City, Lori began her post secondary education at Johnson County Community College. While at JCCC, Lori played volleyball and basketball and was recognized as a Junior College All-American in volleyball in 1988. She then went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Business Management – emphasis in Human Resources from Idaho State University in 1992. She played volleyball for the Bengals for two years and ended her student-athlete experience with basketball in her 5th year. Lori was also a member of the Kansas City Lightning women’s professional volleyball team in 1996.
In 2003, Lori was inducted into both the National Junior College Athletics Association Hall of Fame and Johnson County Community College Hall of Fame for the sport of volleyball. She was inducted into Idaho State University’s Hall of Fame the next year for volleyball and basketball. Lori served on the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Executive Committee from 2004-2008 and is a member of the Board of Directors for the United States – International University Sports Federation since 2004.