Reta Jo Lewis was appointed the Secretary’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs in January 2010. Her office is responsible for serving the global needs of U.S. intergovernmental officials and the entities they represent. She also promotes effective local governance and local capacity building efforts and serves as a point of entry for the global needs of U.S. state and local officials. She reports directly to the Secretary of State.
She leads the office that is 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 around the world. Ms. Lewis serves as the Department’s lead interlocutor in negotiating and executing agreements to solidify subnational cooperation and engagement efforts with BRICS countries and with targeted countries in Asia, the Western Hemisphere, Africa, the Caribbean, and the European Union.
Specifically, Ms. Lewis led the negotiations and engagement efforts that established the first collaboration frameworks for the U.S.- China, U.S.- Brazil, U.S.- India, and U.S. - Russia Memorandums of Understanding to Support Subnational Cooperation. She was the principal negotiator between U.S. and China on the establishment of the first U.S. - China Governors Forums that have resulted in four U.S. - China subnational bilateral exchanges, including one conducted by Vice President Joseph Biden and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in February 2012.
Ms. Lewis works with a network of businesses, U.S. and international chambers of commerce and university leaders. She provides strategic counsel to the Department’s bureaus and embassies regarding the navigation of the development of engagement platforms, strategies and mechanisms to collaborate with U.S. and international subnational leaders on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to trade and investment, energy, sustainability, health care, and education.
Ms. Lewis led the engagement of U.S. state and local government leaders’ integration and activities regarding RIO+20, COP-16, COP-17, and COP-18. Also, she led the Department’s efforts on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments that resulted in President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. would lend its support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Prior to her appointment, she was counsel at Edwards Wildman, LLP, where she provided strategic corporate legal and consulting services to firm clients seeking to develop opportunities in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Ms. Lewis worked with multilateral organizations, firm entrepreneurs, and business owners on a wide array of industries that included investments in infrastructure, financial and energy projects.
As the Secretary’s Special Representative, Ms. Lewis brings extensive experience in the private sector and government, having served as the vice president and counselor to the president at the United States Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation, and as a policy expert on domestic and international issues affecting small business. Ms. Lewis served in the Clinton White House from 1993-1995 as special assistant to the President for Political Affairs. In this capacity, she was the senior domestic political advisor for the Western Hemisphere of the Americas, held in Miami, Florida. In addition, she was the principal staff coordinator for the White House task forces on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Paralympics Games, and the 1994 FIFA World Cup of soccer. As a partner at an international law firm, Ms. Lewis represented the city and council of Denver and Mayor Wellington Webb on international issues as an attorney advisor. She represented the city as the principal liaison to the U.S. Government for Denver’s hosting of the 1997 G-8 Summit and Summit of African Leaders that preceded the G-8.
Furthermore, Ms. Lewis is involved in numerous community and civic activities, including the Executive Women in Government, for which she currently serves as President. Ms. Lewis was the Director of Business Outreach for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, and forged relationships between the incoming Administration, business leaders, and national business associations. She also served as chair of the District of Columbia Commission for Women, where she launched the Commission’s economic and international committees, is a member of the International Women’s Forum, and numerous other organizations. While an associate at a prestigious law firm, she was responsible for directing the national tour director for the Nelson Mandela eight city U.S.A tours where she provided counsel and advice to ANC Leader Nelson Mandela and senior officials.
Ms. Lewis holds a B.A. from the University of Georgia, a M.S.A.J. from American University, and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law. Ms. Lewis is a member in good standing of the District of Columbia and Georgia bars.
Reta Jo Lewis
The Secretary’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (S/SRGIA)
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Tel. (202) 647-7710