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Mavis T. Thompson – License Collector, City of St. Louis

Dana Rieck//June 4, 2019

Mavis T. Thompson – License Collector, City of St. Louis

Dana Rieck//June 4, 2019

Mavis Thompson lives by this motto: Each one must teach one.

“My whole thing is that I am extremely active in the community and especially with my church. I do a lot of church work and make sure I am living that kind of faithful life that is not all about me; it’s about how I can help someone else in this journey,” she said. “And that’s the way I try to live my life, having that faith base in my life.”

Thompson has been license collector in St. Louis since 2013, when former Gov. Jay Nixon appointed her to the position. One year later, she won election to a full term, and she was reelected to a second term in 2018. She still lives in the home her grandparents purchased in 1960 in north St. Louis, and she said her family taught her to care for her community and its people.

Mavis T. Thompson
Mavis T. Thompson

“The thing is, I’ve just been extremely blessed,” she said.

Thompson took a somewhat unconventional path to becoming a lawyer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1979, and she said her experiences as a nurse eventually led her to pursue a new career.

“I became a patient advocate,” she said. “I was in Washington,  D.C., and I was working at various hospitals . . .  and one of the things I hated, hated, hated was getting off the elevator and hearing women scream in pain in delivery.”

Later, she testified on Capitol Hill during hearings on infant illness and mortality.

“So that’s how I got interested in law, testifying on Capitol Hill, and decided I could do it on a more professional level,” she said.

Thompson earned her law degree in 1990 from the University of Missouri School of Law. She also graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1995.

Thompson previously served as a Missouri assistant attorney general in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and she practiced in the health law practice group at Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard. She also was a prosecuting attorney for the cities of Berkeley, Dellwood and Wellston.

Thompson was the circuit clerk for St. Louis Circuit Court when Nixon tapped her to become the city’s license collector. She also is a past president of the National Bar Association.

Through her varied career, what fulfilled her most?

“I guess the whole part of being an elected official because in that position you could do a little more advocacy,” she said. “For instance when I was  circuit clerk, . . . [we encountered] folks who were really struggling trying to get their child support and also folks who [were] struggling with getting protection orders
. . .  We did a lot of advocating to change the rules.”

Whether working to advance women’s issues, helping parents to navigate the legal system or advising young attorneys, Thompson said she’s used her position as a lawyer to be the best advocate she can be.

“I take pride in sharing my knowledge — in church as a Sunday school teacher, mentoring law students and young lawyers,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do with love and knowledge except give it away.”

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