Sara Thompson headshot
Teaching Professor & Faculty Director
Organizational Leadership

Professional Experience

Sara Thompson, PHD, MBA, has extensive experience as a leader in non-profit and for-profit organizations.  Her educational background in educational/industrial psychology has prepared her to explore how and why we learn and how and why we work.  She started her professional career as an industrial psychologist assessing and developing executive management skills in the healthcare company, GranCare, and moved into higher education to lead professional programs for lifelong learners. 

Dr. Thompson has been an academic leader for over 20 years, most recently at the University of Colorado Boulder (CUB) where she served as dean and vice provost of the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.  She led the development of the proposal and curriculum for the Master of Science in Organizational Behavior (MSOL), the university’s first fully online degree program.  She has also been dean of the Catholic University of America’s Metropolitan School of Professional Studies and Trinity Washington University’s School of Professional Studies. 

Dr. Thompson has been awarded over $11 million in educational grants that fund degrees and certificates in the fields of business management, information technology, and healthcare.  In recognition of her innovative leadership in higher education, Dr. Thompson was invited to testify at the U.S. Senate hearing on building and maintaining an effective workforce in the federal government.  She is a member of several organizations and boards that support education and community outreach.

  • Dean, Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies, and Vice Provost, Summer Session, Outreach and Engagement, 2015-2022 University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  • Dean, Metropolitan School of Professional Studies, and Associate Provost, New Program Initiatives, 2002-2015 The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC
  • Dean, School of Professional Studies, and Associate Professor, 2000-2022 Trinity University, Washington, DC 
  • Director, Undergraduate Business Programs, and Assistant Professor, 1997 – 2000 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
  • Director, University Extension Business Department, and Assistant Professor, 1993-1997 University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI


  • PHD, Educational Psychology/Industrial Psychology
    Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
  • MBA, Marketing
    University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  • BA, Psychology
    Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL

Grants and Awards

  • Training grant to offer certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Health Information Technology (HIT).  U.S. Department of Labor, 2011 – 2015, $4.17 million
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 training grant to provide educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certification in HIT.  U.S. Department of Labor, 2010 – 2013, $1.5 million
  • Workforce development grant to offer certificates in Business Management in high growth, high demand fields of hospitality and healthcare.  DC Department of Employment Services, 2007 – 2008, $225,000
  • Workforce development grant to offer undergraduate certificates and degrees to DC Public Schools Paraeducators.  U.S. Department of Education, 2006 – 2010, $1.5 million
  • H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant to offer certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Information Technology.  U.S. Department of Labor, 2003 – 2006, $2.9 million
  • H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant to provide educational opportunities to minority females in DC in the field of Information Technology.  U.S. Department of Labor, 2000-2003, $1.5 million


  • “Three Ways Small-Business Advisors Can Counter the Myths of Manufacturing,” Small Business Forum, Volume 15, Winter 1996/1997, pp 72-80.
  • “I Don’t Have Enough Good Employees. But Where Can I Find Them? A Case Study,” Small Business Forum, Volume 14, Fall 1996, pp 8-25.
  • “Predictors of Management Success in Growing Business.”  Presentation and publication proceedings: 25th European Small Business Seminar on Excellence in Small Business Management, Limassol, Cyprus, September 1995.
  • “The Impact of Biological and Cultural Roles on Women Physicians’ Careers,” Academic Medicine, August 1993. 
  • “Transfusion Medicine Content of the National Board of Medical Examiners’ Test: 1984-85 vs. 1989-90,” Academic Medicine, October 1992.

Professional Activities and Affiliations (Selected Highlights)

  • Founding Member: Continuing and Online Education Forum, Education Advisory Board (EAB), 2012-Present
  • Founding Investor: Boulder Chamber of Commerce “Boulder Together”, focusing on workforce development, affordable housing, and professional mobility. 2019-Present
  • Board Member: Providence Hospital Foundation, 2011-2015
  • Co-Chair:
    • CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music 50th Anniversary Gala, Kennedy Center, 2015
    • Providence Hospital Gala, 2013
  • Member:
    • CUB Online Executive Committee, 2019-2021
    • University of Colorado System Regents’ Challenge, 2015-2017
    • University Professional and Continuing Education Association, 1993-Present