Arthur Thompson Profile
Meeting challenges as BRF chairman
Shreveport has given a lot to Arthur Thompson.
Arthur Thompson feels it’s his responsibility to give a lot back.
That’s why the 76-year-old – he will be 77 in July – was thrilled when recently named chairman of the board of directors of BRF (formerly the Biomedical Research Foundation). BRF’s mission is to diversify and grow Shreveport’s economy.
“I really love Shreveport, and I appreciate all of the opportunities Shreveport has given me to serve,” Thompson said. “I raised my children here. They got good educations. My wife and I are happy here. We want to see the town prosper. We think we have an obligation to make sure that happens – to work to see that happens.”
The Minden, La., native – who has called Shreveport “home” the past 47 years – is no stranger to BRF. Having served on the board since 2005, Thompson has been an officer the past eight years as treasurer and vicechairman.
“It was quite an honor for members of the board to name me as chairman,” Thompson said. “They know I have a passion for the organization – that I have done whatever I could to improve the organization and make sure we were doing what the citizens of Shreveport want us to do. It’s always a challenge. We just have to spend the time and energy to meet the challenges which come forth.”
Thompson graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge and the Southern University Law Center. He then joined the United States Army, where he served four years and achieved the rank of captain. When Thompson left the Army in 1971, he moved to Shreveport. Thompson and his wife, Margaret, have two children and one grandchild.
Since 1985, Thompson’s full-time work has been as clerk of council for the city of Shreveport. He has been elected by nine city councils and 43 council members. His role with BRF is as a volunteer, and is just one of several boards and commissions on which he has served. That list includes the Caddo Parish School Board, Providence House and the Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission.
“I believe you need organizations, whether they’re government or non-profits, to do things that individuals cannot do,” Thompson said. “Most of my adult life has been involved with organizations and activities that try to promote the public good. It’s not so much the leadership I’m interested in. It’s being involved in an organization to use whatever time and talent I have to try and help those organizations to perform a public good that would not ordinarily be performed by individuals in their individual capacity. It’s not so much the leadership I’m interested in. It’s promoting the organization that I’m a part of.”
Thompson’s current organization, BRF, is focused on the task of handing over control of University Health hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe to Ochsner Health System. Once that is complete, Thompson said, “we’ll go back to our original mission of trying to help in the community with research, starting new businesses, and creating Angel Funds to help start those businesses with the finances they need.”
At Thompson’s core is helping people. As his compass, Thompson relies on a Chinese proverb.
“There are two ways to help,” Thompson said. “You can give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, or you can teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime. Providence House and other organizations are trying to teach people who need some help how to stand up on their own and provide for themselves and their families and create opportunities for people to do that.”
Thompson acknowledges that Shreveport, like other cities, faces economic challenges. That’s why he believes it is important to get off the sidelines and into the game.
“I think Shreveport will be as good as the people who decide to involve themselves and know the political sphere and also churches and non-profits and other civic organizations,” Thompson said. “I think we have the opportunity to be a great city, but it’s up to us to provide the work and everything we need to make sure those dreams come true.”
To learn more about Thompson and BRF, you may visit www.brfla.org.