Atlanta civic leader and businessman Thomas W. Dortch in an undated photo

Atlanta civic leader and businessman Thomas W. Dortch in an undated photo

Credit: Courtesy of 100 Black Men

Atlanta civic leader and businessman Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. died Wednesday at age 72.

The former CEO of 100 Black Men also made history as the first Black man to become chief administrator for a U.S. Senator, in this case for Sam Nunn. Dortch was also active in the Georgia Democratic Party, becoming its first associate director in 1974.

As chairman of 100 Black Men of American, Dortch raised nearly $100 million for the organization over his 20-year tenure with the organization headquartered on Auburn Avenue. The building is named in his honor. 

Dortch also worked with the Atlanta Business League and was the founder of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.


Local leaders paid tribute to Dortch this evening, including Mayor Andre Dickens:

“This is a sad day for our city. We have lost another soldier. Tommy Dortch wasn’t born in Atlanta. He came here to attend school, and never left. And Atlanta is the better for it. Whether during his days in government or during his tenure leading 100 Black Men of Atlanta and later 100 Black Men of America, Tommy never lost sight of his mission. Long before we called it diversity, equity and inclusion, Tommy was hard at work in that space. In matters of equity, not too much happened here that Tommy wasn’t involved in. Tommy was a connector and a facilitator. He knew how to get the right people together to make something good happen for Atlanta. He was also a tireless advocate for our young people. When we decided that 2023 would be Atlanta’s Year of the Youth, I knew that I could count on him sharing his support and wisdom. Tommy once said that he wanted his legacy to be that he put our young people first. Without question, mission accomplished.”

The Atlanta City Council issued the following statement following news of Dortch’s death: 

“It was clear Thomas Dortch Jr. loved his community, which is why he worked so hard for it. He was a trailblazer, a community advocate, and a renowned speaker with a sharp intellect and a public servant’s heart. As we reflect on his life, we extend our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The city of Atlanta will miss his inspiring example, but his life and his service to the community will always be celebrated and remembered.”

The King Center called Dortch’s passing a tremendous loss:

Thomas Dortch Jr., affectionately known as Tommy, was a friend and advisor to the King Center’s CEO, Dr. Bernice A. King, and a consistent champion for the Center’s mission and work. He was a treasured leader with impeccable insight, which is evident by his list of awards and accolades, which includes a Presidential Citation for volunteerism. His sharp mind and critical thinking led to chairman and board positions with entities such as the 100 Black Men of American, Inc., Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation, the Atlanta Business League, Clark Atlanta University, and Talladega College. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said, “everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” The King Center is grateful for this great man, and his steadfast and compassionate servant leadership that will inspire us for generations as we cultivate The Beloved Community.