Born Feb. 19, 1965, Teresa Pike Tomlinson grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven. She graduated from Chamblee High School in 1983, and graduated cum laude from Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, Va., in 1987, with a dual bachelor’s degree in government and economics and a certificate in business management.
She earned her degree in law from Atlanta’s Emory University in 1991, and joined the firm of Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison, & Norwood, working in its Atlanta and Columbus offices, specializing in litigation such as class actions, consumer protection and catastrophic personal injury. She later became the firm’s first female partner.
In 1994 she moved to Columbus, where she married colleague Wade “Trip” Tomlinson in 1997.
In 2006, she was named executive director of MidTown Inc., the community revitalization nonprofit focused on the city’s core, a six-square-mile area bordered by 10th Avenue to the west, Interstate 185 to the east, Talbotton and Warm Springs Roads to the north and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the south.
She first ran for Columbus mayor in 2010, winning a runoff against Zeph Baker. In 2014, she soundly defeated challenger Colin Martin to win re-election. She was the first mayor to be re-elected in a contested race since the city and Muscogee County governments consolidated in 1971.
In 2015, she led an effort to save her Virginia alma mater, Sweet Briar College, a liberal arts school for women that was about to shut down. She helped raise $28.5 million in 110 days and coordinated negotiations with the Virginia attorney general to reach a court-approved settlement to replace the college’s previous leaders, after which a court appointed her to the school’s board of directors. She was chairwoman of the college’s board of directors from 2015-2018.
After she left the mayor’s office Jan. 7, she became a partner in the law firm of Hall Booth Smith, specializing in litigation, crisis management and strategic solutions. She has remained in the public eye, appearing on talk shows and at public events to discuss politics and other matters, and while mayor set up her own website at teresatomlinson.com.