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Delano Lewis

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Delano Lewis

Delano Lewis
U.S. Ambassador to South Africa
In office
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by James A. Joseph
Succeeded by Cameron Hume
Personal details
Born (1938-11-12) November 12, 1938
Arkansas City, Kansas, United States
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Kansas
Washburn University School of Law

Delano Eugene Lewis (born November 12, 1938)[1][2] is an American attorney, businessman and diplomat. He was the United States Ambassador to South Africa from 1999 to 2001, and previously held leadership roles with the Peace Corps, National Public Radio, and the U.S. diplomatic corps. He is the father of actor Phill Lewis, known for portraying Mr. Moseby on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Suite Life on Deck.

Early life and education

Lewis was born in Arkansas City, Kansas,[2][3] into a family of "ardent Democrats", Lewis was named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, although his name is pronounced "Del-AYE-no".[4] He is the only child of a Raymond Ernest Lewis, a porter for the Santa Fe Railroad, and Enna L. Lewis (née Wordlow), a homemaker.[1][5][6]

Lewis attended Sumner High School, in Kansas City, Kansas, graduating in 1956.[7] He attended Boys State in his junior and senior years of high school.[7]

Lewis graduated from the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1960,[8] where he was a classmate of Wilt Chamberlain.[9] He earned a law degree from the Washburn University School of Law, in Topeka, Kansas, in 1963.[9]

He worked full-time at the Menninger Clinic while attending law school.


After graduation, Lewis went to work as an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department and later in the Office of Compliance in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.[10] He was an associate director and country director for the Peace Corps in Nigeria and Uganda from 1966 to 1969.[10]

Lewis was a legislative assistant to Senator Edward Brooke and Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy.[3] He led Marion Barry's transition team in 1978 and his financial committee in 1982.[8]

He joined The Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company in 1973 as a public affairs manager,[3][11] becoming its chief executive officer in 1990.[3] In 1988, Lewis served a one-year term as president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade,[12] and began a term as president of the newly formed City National Bank of Washington,[12] which eventually closed in 1993.

In 1993, Lewis became president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio. During his tenure, he served for three years on the board of Apple Computer,[13] citing "pressing time demands"[14] as the reason for leaving in 1997. He resigned from NPR in 1998.[15]

Lewis was also a member of the board of directors of Black Entertainment Television,[16] and has served on the board of Colgate-Palmolive, Halliburton and Eastman Kodak.[9]

U.S. President Bill Clinton named Lewis the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, a post he served from 1999 to 2001. He was sworn in by federal judge John Edwards Conway, a law-school classmate.[9] Lewis and his wife moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he started a consultancy, Lewis & Associates.[6] In 2006, he was named a senior fellow at New Mexico State University.[17] The following year, he was named as the founding director of New Mexico State University's International Relations Institute.[18]


Lewis was involved in the effort to establish home rule for Washington, D.C., which passed in 1973.[19] He was a chair of the home rule committee for VOICE, the Voice of Informed Community Expression,[20] a group which had been formed after the 1968 riots in Washington.[21] In that capacity, and as a legislative aide to Fauntroy, he testified before the U.S. Senate committees on the matter.

He later ran for a seat on the Council of the District of Columbia (Washington's city council), losing to Barry.[19]It was his only run for political office, although he was considered a leading candidate for Mayor of the District of Columbia for years, and was described as a power broker in Washington, D.C. politics. When he resigned from NPR, he declared that he would not be running for any public office.

Personal life

Lewis is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and was elected president while at University of Kansas.[5]

Lewis and his wife, the former Gayle Carolyn Jones,[1] were married in 1960,[8] and they have four sons:[8][19] Delano, Jr., Geoffrey, Brian, and Phill.[22]

Among the many civic awards Lewis has earned,[6] The Washingtonian named him as a "Washingtonian of the Year" in 1978.[23] A Baptist by birth, he converted to Roman Catholicism when he married.[8] Lewis was awarded Catholic University's President's Medal, also in 1978.[6] In January 2009, he was celebrated as Kansan of the Year.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^ a b "Delano E. Lewis Papers, 1960–1997".  
  3. ^ a b c d Peabody, Alvin (May 14, 1997). "Delano E. Lewis: Seeking to Transform National Public Radio".  
  4. ^ Molotsky, Irvin (August 21, 1993). "Public Radio's New Boss Puts First Things First".  
  5. ^ a b Martin, Fred (June 1990). "The Man from C&P".  
  6. ^ a b c d Smith, Jessie Carney; Jackson, Millicent Lownes; Wynn, Linda T. (2006). Encyclopedia of African American Business.  
  7. ^ a b "2005 Alumni Honor Roll". Retrieved May 20, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Trescott, Jacqueline (January 6, 1988). "Delano Lewis, The Insider's Outsider – The C&P Vice President, Heading Up the Board of Trade & Playing Down Mayoral Talk".  
  9. ^ a b c d Staff (July 2000). "Delano E. Lewis: America's New Ambassador to South Africa".  
  10. ^ a b "Delano E. Lewis, Country Director for the Peace Corps in Nigeria and Uganda from 1966 to 1969 Discusses U.S.–South Africa Relations".  
  11. ^ Peabody, Alvin (March 25, 1998). "Delano Lewis Calls For Revamping Of Political System: Still The Last Colony?".  
  12. ^ a b Pyatt, Rudolph A. Jr. (January 5, 1988). "Milestone at the Board of Trade".  
  13. ^ "Board Member Quits Apple Post".  
  14. ^ "NPR Head Resigns as Member of Board of Apple Computer".  
  15. ^ "NPR President and CEO Del Lewis Resigns His Future to Include Teaching, Lecturing and a Book".  
  16. ^ Beatty, Sally Goll (March 17, 1998). "BET Accepts Bid of $378 Million by Investor Group".  
  17. ^ Benanti, Mary A. (August 22, 2006). "Former U.S. Ambassador, Former NPR President Named Senior Fellow at NMSU".  
  18. ^ Nosbisch, Bob (November 1, 2007). "Lewis and Lopez to Launch International Relations Institute".  
  19. ^ a b c Skrzycki, Cindy (October 25, 1993). "Answering a New Call – Del Lewis Leaves C&P after 20 Years for the Chance to 'Fly Free' at NPR".  
  20. ^  
  21. ^ Levy, Claudia (June 22, 1994). "D.C. Commissioner John Duncan Dies – Helped Move Blacks into Government".  
  22. ^ Hill, Michael E. (September 1, 1991). "'"Phill Lewis; D.C. Actor Has the Lead In CBS's 'Teech.  
  23. ^ "Past Washingtonians of the Year". January 29, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2009. 
  24. ^  
Business positions
Preceded by
Douglas J. Bennet
President and Chief Executive Officer of National Public Radio
Succeeded by
Kevin Klose
Political offices
Preceded by
James A. Joseph
United States Ambassador to South Africa
Succeeded by
Cameron Hume
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