Statesboro native Reta Jo Lewis was confirmed last week as the chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Lewis was nominated last September by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the senate to fill the role vacated by the departure of President Trump’s nominee Kimberly Reed earlier this year. Her term will end on Jan. 25, 2025.
She is the first Black woman 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 last September.
Lewis was the first Black 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.
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.
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.