Statesboro native Reta Jo Lewis was nominated this week by President Joe Biden to become chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Lewis will need to be confirmed by the senate before she would fill the role vacated by the departure of President Trump’s nominee Kimberly Reed earlier this year.
She is the first Black woman to be nominated to head the Export-Import Bank, which assists American businesses export their goods by providing financial assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees and insurance. The focus of the bank is to assist small businesses. Supporters say the bank helps put domestic manufacturers on a level playing field with corporations across the globe.
Lewis was born in Statesboro and is the daughter of the late Charlie and Altheia Lewis, who were entrepreneurs and civic activists in Statesboro for more than 50 years. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia, holds a master’s degree from American University in Washington and earned her law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.
She spent the past five years as a senior fellow and director of congressional affairs with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she led and helped oversee initiatives and programs between members of Congress and their European counterparts.
Lewis has more than two decades of leadership experience in international affairs, legal, public policy and regulatory issues, as well as subnational diplomacy, including serving under the Obama-Biden administration.
Under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she was the first-ever special representative for global intergovernmental affairs.
Prior to serving in the Obama White House, Lewis worked as a special assistant for political affairs for former President Bill Clinton.
After Clinton left the Oval Office, Lewis went on to work as vice president and counselor to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, making her the first Black woman to serve in the role, the White House said in its press release announcing Lewis’ nomination.
Reta Jo Lewis has over 25 years of leadership experience in international affairs, legal, public policy, business and regulatory affairs, and subnational diplomacy. She is a Senior Fellow and Director of Congressional Affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).At GMF, Lewis leads and oversees initiatives, programs, and bipartisan exchanges for members of the U.S. Congress and their European counterparts. She joined GMF in 2015 as a Senior Resident Fellow with the Transatlantic Leadership Program, where she focused on leadership development and subnational diplomacy efforts. She established and leads GMF’s Women of Color in Transatlantic Leadership Program. Prior to joining GMF, she served as the first-ever Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs under Secretary Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State during the Obama-Biden Administration. As Special Representative, Lewis was the chief diplomat in charge of the international efforts to build and support strategic relationships between the U.S. Department of State, state and local leaders, and their foreign counterparts. In 2013, she was awarded the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award.
Prior to joining the State Department, Ms. Lewis was Of Counsel at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP. Previous legal experience includes serving as a Shareholder at one of the largest international law firms, Greenberg Traurig LLP. Her legal practice focused on providing strategic corporate, legal, and consulting counsel to the firms’ business, public finance, regulatory, and state and local clients. Ms. Lewis was the first African-American woman to serve as Vice President and Counselor to the President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She led the Chamber’s initiatives focused on fostering strategic alliances between small businesses, especially women- and minority-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and executives. Prior to her tenure at the Chamber, she was Special Assistant for Political Affairs to President Bill Clinton. She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Member of the Board of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security. Ms. Lewis received a J.D. from Emory University School of Law, an M.S.A.J. from American University, and a B.A. from the University of Georgia. She is a native of Statesboro, Georgia.