FORT WORTH — After a thorough national search, the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT) named Maria Thomas-Jones as the new Chief Executive Officer. The board met last month for its quarterly meeting, during which members unanimously voted to select Thomas-Jones, who has served as Interim CEO since February 2016, effective immediately.

According to a press release announcing the appointment, Legal Aid is a nonprofit organization that "strives to meet the legal needs of more than 1.5 million eligible clients in its 114-county service area," which includes Ellis County with a branch in Waxahachie.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to officially welcome Maria Thomas-Jones as the new CEO of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas,” said Jan Langbein, Legal Aid Board Chair. “Maria has served LANWT effectively in many different capacities during her 17-year tenure with the firm.”

In noting Thomas-Jones’ role as Interim CEO, Langbein says that she impressed the board with her commitment and leadership.

“Maria has demonstrated a style of leadership that is transparent and inclusive,” Langbein said. “She is strategic and has a solid vision for the future of LANWT. We believe she will bring the firm to even higher levels of achievement in providing legal services to low-income Texans.”

LANWT’s Board of Directors began its search for its next CEO earlier this year with a singular goal: select the best CEO to support what it considers to be the very best Legal Aid staff. A Search Committee was assembled comprising representatives from LANWT’s staff, executives, and union, as well as the Board. Throughout the process, the Board worked to ensure that its staff had an active role in the selection process by participating in surveys and a town-hall candidate forum. Ultimately, the Search Committee recommended Ms. Thomas-Jones as its top candidate.

“I am honored to have been selected from the broad field of candidates who applied to lead Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas,” Thomas-Jones said. “I look forward to continuing to work with our entire staff as we move our organization forward and meet our ongoing mission to deliver quality civil legal services to those in need in ever more innovative and effective ways, as our law firm has done for more than 65 years.”

Thomas-Jones, who joined LANWT in 1999, is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. During her tenure with LANWT, she has served as a staff attorney, the Supervising Attorney of Family Law Unit in Dallas, Deputy Director, and Interim CEO.