Solomon Thomas

Co-Founder and Board Chair

Solomon Thomas plays in the NFL as a Defensive Lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders and is Co-Founder of The Defensive Line.  He landed in Las Vegas after four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers who drafted him as the #3 overall player in the 2017 NFL draft. During his second season with the Niners, Solomon and his family experienced an unimaginable and tragic loss. On January 23, 2018, his big sister Ella died by suicide.

Off the field, Solomon has dedicated his life to sharing Ella’s story and has worked with a myriad of nonprofit organizations to raise awareness and secure funds for mental health and suicide prevention work. Solomon has been a keynote speaker and panel member at events for American Foundation Suicide Prevention Gala, Mental Health America, San Francisco Suicide Prevention, Felton Group, NFLPA Super Bowl Players Summit, Kick the Stigma, ESPN, NFL Network, CNN, Bring Change 2 Mind, and USC Annenberg Summit. He has also been the recipient of the 2019 AFSP Lifesavers Award with his parents Martha and Chris, and has publications in ESPN magazine and Players Tribune.

Martha Thomas

Co-Founder and Director of Education

Martha draws young people like a magnet. She exudes warmth and welcome to everyone she meets. As a teacher and educator for 30 years, Martha brings authenticity and an open heart to her work with students. Nominated by her school district as Teacher of the Year, Martha prioritizes the well-being of her students, and provides creative and compassionate leadership both inside and outside the classroom.

Martha co-founded The Defensive Line to honor her daughter, Ella, and to bring a message of hope and help to other at-risk young people. She is the roots of her family and believes and demonstrates fundamentally that connection is our greatest source of strength together. Martha, Chris, and Solomon were recipients of the 2019 AFSP Lifesaver Award.

Martha resides in Coppell, Texas with her husband, Chris, and two rescue dogs Mickey and Rebel. She is a marathoner and devoted friend to a very lucky many, as well as a huge fan of the Las Vegas Raiders for whom her son, Solomon, plays defensive lineman.

Chris Thomas

Co-Founder

Chris has yet to meet a stranger. During his 30-plus years in corporate management of consumer goods and products, both domestically and internationally, Chris has literally made thousands of friends through his innate ability to connect with and care for other people.

A gifted college athlete, Chris played an integral role in coaching and developing the athletic achievements of his children, Ella and Solomon. People are immediately put at ease by his big laugh and zest for life, and by his ability to communicate a message of positivity and hope.

As a senior executive at Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay and Alberto Culver among others, Chris brought a drive for excellence to his work, earning recognition and industry awards including Salesperson of the Year and Supplier of the Year. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as Touched By Suicide (TBS) board member, AFSP Project 2025 board member, and College of Wooster Ad Hoc Alumni Trustee. Martha, Chris, and Solomon were recipients of the 2019 AFSP Lifesaver Award.

Chris often jokes that, as Solomon’s dad, he had the rare privilege of raising his own favorite NFL player, and no player has a more enthusiastic father in the stands. Chris continues to play sports, travel, and barbecue some of the world’s best ribs.

Rei Horst

Executive Director

Rei is a fierce lover of people and is dedicated to ensuring dignity in service to others. Through organizing, policy, and program development, Rei has worked extensively in housing and homelessness and serving people in crisis. She led a county-wide coordinated emergency shelter entry program for families and individuals experiencing homelessness and worked with policymakers and community organizations to build a more collaborative and effective shelter system.

In partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and Arc Skoru, Rei developed a rating system for emergency shelters that promotes whole-system thinking and standardization in both physical design and service implementation. Her leadership and community development skills contributed to successful field operations for 2020 political campaigns.

A graduate of Philosophy and Ethics from West Chester University with Master’s in Public Policy from Temple University, Rei resides in Philadelphia with her pit-beagle mix Charlie and enjoys cooking (and eating), live concerts, and running along the Schuylkill River Trail.