Surpora Sparks-Thomas, MBA, BSN, RN, and FAAN is Chief Nurse Executive Emeritus of Children’s of Alabama. Her nursing career spans 50 years with experience as a staff nurse and successive supervisory experience working every nursing level for 20 years and subsequent 28 years as the Chief Nurse Executive/Sr. VP Nursing of the then Children’s Health System. She retired January 1, 2010. Mrs. Thomas has been inducted into the Alabama Health Care Hall of Fame, the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame, the Pediatric Nursing Hall of Fame, International Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and as a Fellow in The American Academy of Nursing. In November 2001, The Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees and Executive Administrative Staff named and dedicated The Surpora Thomas Pediatric Nursing Education & Research Center in her honor. The Surpora Thomas Nursing Excellence Fund to support Nursing Research was established in December 2009. One of the hallmarks of her visionary leadership is the successful application of biblical principles in her strategic planning and decision making processes. Her strategy and success in building strong productive multi-talented teams composed of individuals with different skill sets and cultures are noteworthy
Among the innovations she brought to Children’s Hospital was transitioning to an all-professional staff with internal educational development tracks, developing a patient classification system now used in numerous hospitals. This system transformed nursing from a high cost center to a revenue generating one. She implemented a pre-admission screening program used since 1982. In collaboration with physicians, nurses and other healthcare teams, she also pioneered the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in Alabama. Surpora was named the Outstanding Nursing Administrator of the Year by the Alabama State Nurses’ Association in 1987 and won the international 1995 Pinnacle Award for Innovations in Medical Management. She was fondly and reverently referred to by her colleagues and staff as pioneer, innovator, visionary, insightful, icon of pediatric nursing, and a living legend who had a close personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. In 2003 Surpora was honored by Sigma Theta Tau, Gamma Eta Chapter of the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing as one of fifteen Outstanding African-American Nurses in Alabama 1962-2003. In 2007, she was honored as one of the Living Legends in White by the Birmingham Black Nurses Association. Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. Omicron Omega Chapter also honored her as one of seven women as “Legends in Leadership” .
She was at the helm directing and leading Children’s Health System to earn the prestigious Magnet Designation from the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANNC) for Nursing Excellence from 2007-2012. She also received a Resolution and Outstanding Citizen Medal from the Birmingham City Council at their December 9, 2008 meeting.
The highlight of the many celebrations of her retiring from the then Children’s Health System (current Children’s of Alabama) was the personal letter that she received from President Barack Obama. In his letter, President Obama acknowledged her contributions to healthcare, and congratulated her on a job well done. He also included well wishes for the future from him and first lady Michelle Obama.
Surpora Sparks-Thomas received her calling and anointing to teach in 1976. Christ specifically instructed her to teach revelation knowledge to others as the Holy Spirit would teach her. Christ also instructed her to teach in a way that the hearers would understand how to skillfully apply the word of God to create their own prosperity and success. Christ promised to give her an abundance of revelations that she must pass on to others. Christ has kept His promise and she has her commitment.
Thomas is an Evangelist with an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity who glorifies God and serves others as an anointed bible teacher, Sunday school teacher, Deaconess, and Director of Christian Education at The New Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Dolomite, Al. She is also an author and poet who have earned certifications as a Human Behavior Consultant, a Christian Life Coach, and a Facilitator for Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
She has been blessed with many awards and recognition from community, civic, professional, political and religious groups. Her successes in life serve as infallible proof that timely application of. relevant biblical principles always create success. Evangelist Thomas personal testimony is that declaration and application of biblical principles created success in the corporate world and her personal life. Those who were taught how to and applied the principles as well as those who witnessed their results continue to validate this as true. Others who confirm that the principles outlined in her book “Equipped to Enjoy Life’s Journey” are effective include hearers of the hourly weekly bible study class and those who listen to the weekly thirty minute radio broadcast. What others are saying about the book are on her website. Evangelist Thomas is an experienced, gifted and anointed keynote speaker for Christian, Corporate, and other secular events, retreats, workshops, seminars, special events, and conferences.
There are five things that most do not know about Thomas.
1. Prior to the digital cameras, she was a good amateur photographer. She used a 35 mm Minolta camera to photograph weddings, and other special events, nature, lightning bolts, dew on roses, and candid shots . She was always invited to special events and requested to bring her camera. Her gifts were always pictures of the occasion.
2. She is very competitive and enjoys winning
3. She is an avid reader and her favorite book is the Bible
4. She has a passion for helping people to develop and perform to their potential
5. She purposes to learn something new every day. She has never met a person that she didn’t learn something from
In all endeavors, Surpora continues to enjoy life with Jule, her husband for 51 years of marriage, who is also her best friend, and confidante. Jule and Surpora live in Birmingham, Ala and are blessed with four daughters (Sonya, Sherri, Julena, and Leah); two son-in-laws (Eric and Tremaine) three granddaughters (Erica, Erin, and Taylor); two grandsons (DeMaris & Jule) and one great grandson (Kamari). They are also blessed with a large network of other family members and friends.