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Before you build, you need a solid foundation. And when it comes to The Pawtucket Foundation – and the city itself – that base could very well be Thomas A. Mann.
The leader of the nine-year-old nonprofit, Mann has become key figure in promoting economic development for Pawtucket, a city working to regain its past prosperity.
Much of that skill set he puts to use comes from the U.S. Air Force, in which he served for eight years. Mann began his Air Force career as a logistics planner in Germany, where he was responsible for “the planning and execution of deployment, reception and readiness assessment for the largest Logistics Plans and Programs office in Europe,” Mann wrote in his 40 Under Forty application.
In 2001 – the same year he led his unit to win the U.S. Air Force Logistics Plans Outstanding Unit of the Year – he became a civil-engineer officer. In 2004, he led a unit of 60 engineers in Iraqi territory near Baghdad, earning an Army Commendation Medal.
Mann, now 34, left the Air Force in 2007 as a senior captain. After a stint at New Jersey-based urban-design program A. Nelessen Associates, he took over as executive director of the foundation in 2008. His tenure there has been one marked by success. The nonprofit’s annual fundraiser has generated $70,000 over the two-year period, with attendance increasing 31 percent.
But his vision is perhaps his greatest asset, and one that the city already has called upon. Mann was chairman of a task force that helped sculpt the “2020 Blueprint to Prosperity: Business Development Strategy for Downtown Pawtucket,” which identified 14 actions for the city to take.
Released this past April, the plan has already seen one of its key recommendations begin to take shape – a transportation-circulation plan. Mann has led fundraising efforts for the initiative, helping secure 10 percent of the funds needed to start alleviating the issues that arise from the city’s one-way streets. •