Opelika native and Nicor Gas Director of Corporate Safety Brian Thomas was the recent recipient of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity – Alpha Upsilon Lambda Chapter’s Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for Governmental and Military Service.

Thomas began his military service in 1988 as a member of the Alabama National Guard while attending Alabama A&M University, where he earned a degree in business administration.

During his military career he served in many roles, including Safety & Occupational Health officer, AMEDD recruiter, Medical Battalion administrative officer, S-1, Deputy Military Personnel officer and recruiting commander.

In 2009, Thomas deployed to Afghanistan with the 135th Sustainment Command as the Human Resources Operations Branch OIC. He retired from the Alabama Army National Guard Active/Guard Reserve (AGR) program as a major, after 26 years of service in November 2014.

In August 2014, Thomas joined Southern Company — Nicor Gas’s parent company — as a Senior Safety & Health specialist with the Georgia Power Company. He began with Southern Company Gas in 2017 as the senior Safety Compliance specialist and was later promoted to safety manager. Currently, he is the director of Corporate Safety for Nicor Gas in Naperville, Illinois. In this role, he is responsible for providing strategic leadership and directing programs to ensure compliance in the areas of occupational safety, motor vehicle safety, process safety and industrial hygiene.

Thomas currently resides between Plainfield, Illinois, and Suwanee, Georgia, with his wife of 26 years, Shirlinda Nelson Thomas. He is also the proud father of three daughters. His father still resides in Opelika.


Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.3 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit


Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 600,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit