Tommi Thornbury Pryor started her life in Pike County, KY, an area settled by her forbears nine generations earlier in the heart of Appalachia. Though her mother returned there to have the first three of her four children, she took newborn Tommi back to their home on a Virginia Naval base soon thereafter. There the young mother and baby girl rejoined her two older sisters and father, an Annapolis graduate and career Navy officer.
By the time she was 13, Tommi had lived in Portsmouth and Norfolk, VA; Bremerton, WA; Lexington, MA; Chevy Chase and Bethesda, MD; and a suburb of Milwaukee. While living in MA, her younger brother was born and they began a life-long special relationship that included him joining her first company in Washington, DC many years later. She credits her gregarious nature and adventurous spirit to the family’s various moves, all but the last due to her father’s military assignments.
She graduated from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and moved to Kansas City, MO. where she resided and worked for nearly a decade in marketing, as a major market radio show host and later as a morning drive newscaster. After subsequently earning her M.A. degree at University of Missouri-Kansas City, Tommi pulled up roots and relocated to the nation’s capital where she launched and owner-managed a marketing agency and congressional publishing service for the next decade.
This was followed by 18 years in Orange County, CA where she started and managed several businesses along with three stints as a senior corporate marketing executive. It was there that she met her future husband, David Pryor, who she wed on Millennium New Year’s Day in Lake Tahoe, NV. The couple moved to the Phoenix, AZ area a few years later where they co-manage their various marketing and data businesses today.
Tommi considers her effort to recall then Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as her greatest accomplishment. Though she had voted for Gov. Brewer and had supported her candidacy at the time, she felt that she needed to do something when she learned that the governor had cut Medicaid funds for 98 poor Arizonans on the organ transplant list. Some had been waiting for an organ transplant match for years and all needed a transplant to ultimately survive.
An IL Republican committeeman who studied the state’s budget had determined that the state could fund the estimated transplant costs for of the 98 patients by appropriating funds allocated to a planned bridge designed to save around five red squirrels a year. The governor failed to respond to this or the other two dozen proposals submitted to spare the lives of the 98, including proposals from state legislators.
While the recall effort did not unseat the governor, the national press attention and nationwide support that resulted from it helped persuade the governor to back down and restore the funding.
Unfortunately, two on the list and a third waiting to get on the list died in the meantime. One was a leukemia patient and young father of six who died waiting for a bone marrow transplant. The story which inspired Tommi to get involved was that of Francisco Felix, a father of four young girls, who had been admitted to the hospital and prepped for his life-saving liver transplant only to be discharged and to have the liver go to another person on the transplant list. This was after a last-minute denial of coverage by the state’s Medicaid office (“AHCCCS”) due to the Governor’s announcement of the cuts to transplant funding.
Ironically, a few years after the recall effort, Tommi’s husband was diagnosed with liver cancer and told he would need a liver transplant. In 2016, he received his transplant following chemotherapy and is cancer free today. The couple attributes David’s new lease on life to prayer and the grace of God. Tommi remains a passionate advocate for public policy supporting the patient community. She recently founded a Super PAC, TIME TO ACT PAC, with a central objective of getting bipartisan cooperation on targeted legislation, particularly as related to healthcare.
Tommi credits her activism to her upbringing stating that a trait that her parents shared was always trying to do the right thing.