Kim Thompson-Gaddy, 1982
State and national leader on environmental issues.
Deborah Kim Thompson-Gaddy, affectionately called Kim, is a fourth generation Newarker who attended Newark Public Schools. During her time at Weequahic she was involved in the Orange and Brown Association, was elected as the Freshman and Sophomore Class representative, and served as the Junior and Senior Class President.
Kim was also a member of the National Honors Society, Yearbook club, and played on the softball, basketball and bowling teams. In her junior year, she was the only Newark resident to make the
all-state bowling team for New Jersey.
Kim attended Rutgers-New Brunswick and continued her activism. She was an editor of the student publication “Black Voice/Carta Boricua” and was an active member of the Black Student Union.
After college, Kim returned to Newark to fight against educational and environmental injustices. She became involved in local elections and became an Essex County Committeewoman for the South Ward under Mayor Sharpe James. Her knowledge, commitment and skills allowed her to become the first employee to work for three different City Council members and eventually she became the first female Chief of Staff for the Newark Municipal Council.
As a parent, Kim understood the importance of parental support in the schools and she served as the Treasurer and President of the Harriet Tubman School PTA, and she was also elected as the Vice President and President of the Weequahic PTA.
Kim was a volunteer Double Dutch Coach at the Boys and Girls Club in the South Ward when a tragic shooting took the life of her niece, also a Weequahic graduate. This event, spurred Kim to run for the Newark School Board to address the connection between violence and students dropping out. She served two terms on the Board, in 1992 and again in 2016.
Kim’s motto is “If It Is To Be, It's Up To Me.” For the past 20 years, she has worked as an Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action. She is a local, statewide and national leader on environmental issues. Kim led the fight for Newark to establish an Environmental Commission and served as the first chair for seven years. She has been appointed by 5 different Governors to serve as a member of the NJ Environmental Justice Advisory Council where she’s the current Vice Chair.
Kim has been the recipient of many awards, some of which include: 100 People of Newark; the Region 2 Environmental Community Service Award; the NJ Department of Environment 2020 Richard J. Sullivan Award; the 2020 Housing and Community Development, Advocacy and Organizing Award; and the 2021 UUFaithAction NJ, Environmental Justice Award. Kim also was a Co-Founding Co-President of the WHS Alumni Association.