Reta Jo Lewis is GMF’s director of congressional affairs. Lewis draws on her immense experience and GMF’s resources and European networks to connect Congress and GMF. Lewis joined GMF in January 2015 as a senior fellow with Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives (TLI), where she focuses on leadership development, outreach, programming, and thought pieces on global engagement strategies to strengthen the next generation of transatlantic leaders. Since beginning her tenure, GMF has been very active in engaging Congress through its Transatlantic Congressional Staff Salon Series, briefings on Capitol Hill, study tours, testimony from GMF experts, and engagement with European parliamentarians. Lewis has also worked with TLI to develop the Transatlantic Subnational Diplomacy Initiative (TSDI) to enhance diplomacy at the state and local levels.
Previously, she served as the State Department’s first-ever special representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, under secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry from 2010-13. Lewis led the office charged with building strategic peer-to-peer relationships between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. state and local officials, and their foreign counterparts. In her post, she served as the State Department’s lead interlocutor in negotiating and executing the first historic agreements to solidify subnational cooperation and engagement efforts with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries and with targeted countries in the European Union. She was the principal architect that led the global engagement of U.S. state and local government leaders’ integration into and strategy regarding sustainability and climate change to RIO+20, COP-16, COP-17 and COP-18. In 2013, she was awarded the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award.
Prior to the State Department, Lewis served in senior positions in the public and private sectors, including political appointments in the Clinton administration. She was the director for business outreach for the Obama-Biden Transition Team. She served as the vice president and counselor at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and director of the Chamber’s effort focused on small business and outreach to women and minority-owned businesses. Lewis was the special assistant to the president for political affairs in the Clinton White House from 1993-95 and the director of the Northeast and Southern Regions. During her career, Lewis was the administration’s key point person in organizing the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 1996 Olympics and Paralympic games in Atlanta, and the 1998 African Leaders Summit and G-8 Summit in Denver. Lewis also organized Nelson Mandela’s 8-city U.S. Tour in 1990. She was of counsel at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP prior to joining the Obama Administration, and a 2014 mayoral candidate in Washington, DC.
Lewis holds a bachelor’s in political science from University of Georgia, a master’s from American University, and a JD from Emory University School of Law.