About Thomas

Diplomat. Economist. Foresight Practitioner.

Thomas Debass is a diplomat, an economist, and a foresight practitioner. Thomas is a widely recognized public-private partnership authority who has played a leading role in promoting and institutionalizing the role of innovation and partnerships as a tool for advancing foreign policy and global development. He regularly gives keynotes, lectures, and talks about the future of governance; and the intersection of foreign policy, business, and society.  Thomas travels both internationally and domestically and has spoken at SXSW, DEMO, Concordia Summit; and other notable conferences. 

Thomas is currently serving as Chief Partnerships Officer and Managing Director of the Office of Global Partnerships at U.S. Department of State, providing thought leadership on partnerships related to economic growth, global finance, environment, and sustainability governance, impact investing, and innovation.  He has served under five secretaries of State with various partnership and program accomplishments. Thomas is also an adjunct faculty at George Washington University School of Business teaching strategic foresight, resilience, and strategy.   Prior to joining the State Department, he was the Lead Economist with the  Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Senior Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Thomas is also actively engaged in his community.  He is the founder of Startfield, a 501(c)(3) local nonprofit organization on a mission to build and empower communities of innovators and creatives to spur economic development in Northern Virginia.  He is also the founding dean and trustee of Awesome Foundation – Northern Virginia.  Thomas also curates SmartPhilm, a unique international film festival and multimedia platform that showcases short films shot entirely with smartphones and other mobile devices.  He is also the co-founder of Pitch & Flow, an innovative storytelling and pitching platform that seeks to showcase and celebrate the next generation of startup founders and entrepreneurs using the global appeal and power of hip hop.

Prior to his public service career, Thomas was a tech entrepreneur as well as a research associate for agricultural projects in South Asia and East Africa. Thomas is a graduate of Virginia Tech with an MA in Applied Economics and a BA in Economics. He also has an Executive Certificate in International Business Management from Georgetown, an Executive Leadership Certificate from the UC-Berkeley, and a Foresight and Futures Thinking Certificate from the Institute of the Future.