Upon graduating from East Tennessee State University, Darlene Thompson moved across the mountain to Asheville, North Carolina, where she used the skills she learned during her college years to be a social worker for the Salvation Army. One year later, she was promoted to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Community Corrections Program. This program enables inmates to re-enter the community successfully. As a member of the American Correctional Association, Thompson has represented the Salvation Army across the country at national conventions. She has also worked with flood and hurricane disasters in West Virginia and South Carolina.
Thompson's civic and community interests are plentiful. She has served as a board member for the American Red Cross. As a member of the Elisha Mitchel Audubon Society, Thompson has participated in the establishment of the Beaver Lake Sanctuary and renewal projects for Beaver Lake in Asheville. She is also an active member of Habitat for Humanity, the March of Dimes and Samaritan's Purse. Currently, in addition to being the Community Corrections Center Director, she is also a free-lance travel writer and photographer for Trips and Journeys. She has written several articles for the American Correctional Magazine and Chief of Police Magazine. Thompson's love for ETSU sports makes her a true ETSU fan. In fact, she recently entered a friend's quilt which consisted of past ETSU basketball and football t-shirts in the Mountain Messages Quilt Exhibit at the B. Carroll Reece Museum. She is also a member of the ETSU Pirate Club and supporter of the ETSU Wesley Foundation.
Thompson was part of the reason for the success of the Capital Campaign for ETSU Tomorrow, where she established the Andrea Wells Scholarship in honor of a close friend's child who was tragically killed at the age of 7 but always dreamed of one day going to college. Thompson said grants and other financial aid enabled her to obtain her degree and she believes ETSU provides great educational, cultural, social and athletic opportunities to everyone.