Expert Profile

Ms Reta Jo Lewis
Position(s) German Marshall Fund of the United States Director of Congressional Affairs and Senior Fellow

Reta Jo Lewis is senior fellow and director of congressional affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). In this capacity, Lewis directs and leads a major international non-partisan and nonprofit organization’s congressional affairs program headquartered in Washington, D.C. with seven international offices located throughout Europe; builds and maintains extensive congressional relationships with leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; serves as liaison between GMF and Congress with activities that include: coordinating congressional testimony by GMF experts, recruiting congressional participation in major international conferences, study tours, and conducting monthly briefing  series on Capitol Hill on transatlantic and security issues; leads annual delegations of congressional members and their staff to Germany and other European destinations; and directs the development of relationships with U.S. governors and mayors and their subnational counterparts. 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. Lewis is a sought-after adviser on subnational engagement and public diplomacy strategies, U.S. transatlantic relations, U.S. politics, and political and social inclusion.

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 efforts 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 for the White House Task Force for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1996 Olympics and Paralympic games in Atlanta.  Lewis also led and managed the Democracy for South Africa USA National Tour for ANC leader Nelson Mandela in 1990. She was of counsel at Edwards Wildman 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.