Grant Thomas is a career educator whose major focus for the past 30+ years has been on systematic strategies for youth empowerment and service. He started the original PAL (Peer Assistance and Leadership) Program in Austin ISD in 1980, and guided its growth into a national model peer-mentoring program that has been implemented by hundreds of school districts throughout Texas and the nation. In 1994 he established YouthLaunch, an Austin-based youth empowerment nonprofit, and served as its Executive Director for nine years. A former board member of the National Association of Peer Programs, he also served for many years on the boards of both YouthLaunch and KIPP Austin. His educational background includes a B.A. from Princeton, magna cum laude (1967); an Ed. M. from Harvard (1974); and four years of graduate study in educational psychology at UT (1976-80).