Debby Thomas, PhD

Dean, College of Business

Director, Doctor of Business Administration

Debby Thomas

Debby Thomas joined George Fox in 2016 as an assistant professor of management. Prior to her arrival, she served as a missionary in Rwanda, Africa, starting in 1995. In Rwanda, Thomas started a holistic community development program and started several small businesses. She has also taught elementary and middle school, lead multiple efforts in Rwanda, and is a corporate management trainer. She holds a PhD in organizational leadership (2015), a master's degree in global leadership (2009), and a bachelor's degree in elementary education and international studies (1994).

In her free time she enjoys cooking, taking long walks, nature, and spending quality time with her family. Thomas lives in Newberg with her husband, David, and has four children: Bree, Aren, Gwen and Alandra. 

Professor Thomas Teaches

  • Leadership, Management, Organizational Behavior and Research
  • Undergraduate, MBA and Doctor of Business Administration


  • PhD, Regent University, Virginia - Organizational Leadership
  • MA, Fuller Theological Seminary, CA - Global Leadership 
  • BA, George Fox University - Elementary Education and International Studies 

Research Interests

  • Classroom as Organization and experiential teaching methodologies
  • Empowering leadership
  • Women in leadership
  • Biblical Studies and Leadership topics combined

Journal Articles 

  • Chappell, S. and Thomas, D. ( 2019). The shadow side of teaching Classroom as Organization (CAO). Journal of Management Education.
  • Thomas, D., Rahschulte, T. (2018). The Moderating Effects of Power Distance and Collectivism on Empowering Leadership and Psychological Empowerment and Self-Leadership in International Development Organizations. International Leadership Journal, 10(3), 3-39.
  • Thomas, D. (2018). Jesus’ Cross-Cultural Model of ‘Leader As Servant’ In Luke 22:24-30. Theology of Leadership Journal1(1), 67-78.
  • Thomas, D. (2014). Comparison of Rwandan and American followership styles. Journal of Leadership Education13(4), 124-135. doi:10.12806/V13/I4/C13
  • Thomas, D. (2014). Learning curve in Rwanda: A long journey of transformation. Evangelical Missions Quarterly50(2), 222-225.
  • Thomas, D. (2014). Daniel as an example of exceptional cross-cultural leadership. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership6(1), 58–66.
  • Thomas, D. (2014). Love as a replacement for fear in the workplace. Emerging Leadership Journeys7(1), 27–33.

Books and Book Chapters

  • Thomas, D., Chappel, S. and Bright, D. (in publication, release July 2020). Teaching Methods in Business Series: Classroom as Organization. Eduard Edgar Publishing. 
  • Thomas, D. (2018). Empowerment and holistic community development in Rwanda In Thompson, R.J., & Storberg-Walker, J. (Eds.). Leadership and Power in International Development: Navigating the Intersections of Gender, Culture, Context, and Sustainability. London, England: Emerald Publishing.


  • Thomas, D. Panel of authors on the topic Courageous Leadership in International Development. International Leadership Association, October 2019.
  • Thomas, D. Exploring Leadership at the Doctoral Level: Preparation, Writing Circles, and Growing Relational Leadership. International Leadership Association, October 2019.
  • Thomas, D. and Chappell, S. Classroom as Organization: A new model and an exercise in peer-to-peer feedback. Management and Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference, June 2019
  • Thomas, D. Panel of authors of book chapters in the book Leadership in International Development.ILA, October 2018.
  • Thomas, D.  and Chappell, S.Experiential workshop on how to teach Classroom as Organization. ILA, October 2018.
  • Chappell, S.and Thomas D. The Golden Shadow of Classroom as Organization. MOBTC, June 2018
  • Thomas, D.  and Chappell, S. Panel presentation on how to teach Classroom as Organization. MOBTC, June 2018.
  • Thomas, D. (2017, June). Giving Voice: How Quaker methods can support women’s voice into organizational decisions. Interactive round table discussion at the ILA Women in Leadership Conference, Rochester, NY.
  • Thomas, D. (2014, October). Comparison of Rwandan and American Followership Styles.Presentation at International Leadership Association (ILA) pre-conference on Followership: San Diego, California.

Publications in Process

  • Thomas, D. and Chappell, S. Dissertation Writing Circles for Doctoral Students.
  • Thomas, D. and Chappell, S. Classroom as Organization: A Literature Review and Future Research Agenda
  • Thomas, D. Jesus’ Yoke as An Antidote to Burnout. Preparing for publication in the Theology of Leadership Journal.
  • Thomas, D. Daniel as a Model for Cross Cultural Leadership