Black Talent Initiative
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 14, 2022
Joint Center Commends the U.S. Senate for Confirming the Nomination of Reta Jo Lewis as president and chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States
WASHINGTON – The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends the U.S. Senate for confirming Reta Jo Lewis as president and chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). Lewis was confirmed Feb. 9 through a bipartisan vote of 56 – 40. With her confirmation, Ms. Lewis becomes the first Black woman in this role.
“Reta Jo Lewis is an exceptional public servant who will undoubtedly excel as president and chair of the EXIM. She has the background, knowledge, and strategic understanding to lead EXIM so that the global marketplace is accessible to American businesses from all communities. Exports are a particularly important growth area for Black businesses – only 2.9 percent of Black-owned American firms export goods and services, compared to 4.7 percent of non-minority firms.,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton.
“By confirming Ms. Lewis, the Senate has taken an important step in expanding opportunities for business owners of all backgrounds, which will accelerate our nation’s economic recovery and benefit all Americans. We thank the Senate for confirming Ms. Lewis. We also appreciate the leadership of President Biden in nominating Ms. Lewis and Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) during the confirmation process.” Mr. Overton continued.
The Joint Center sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs highlighting Ms. Lewis’ notable record of accomplishments and her reputable career in public service as reasons for our endorsement. The letter was signed by the U.S. Black Chambers, Black Economic Alliance, and the Potomac Coalition.
The Joint Center’s Black Talent Initiative supported Ms. Lewis’ nomination by President Biden in September 2021. Throughout this process, the Joint Center played a role in elevating Ms. Lewis as a top candidate who will bring her diverse perspective and expertise to this federal agency.
According to Sen. Brown’s remarks before the Senate, Ms. Lewis “will lead our nation’s official export credit agency as it supports U.S. workers and manufacturers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and throughout our country. EXIM’s job is to support our American businesses in the face of competition – often unfair competition – from countries like China…Ms. Lewis will put American workers and exporters first. She understands that EXIM is vital to manufacturing jobs and our nation’s economic competitiveness.”
Before this appointment, Ms. Lewis was a senior fellow and director of Congressional Affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she has been since 2015. She regularly engaged legislators across countries in Europe and in the United States through leadership and diplomacy exchanges in this position.
A seasoned veteran in government and business, she previously served as the first-ever special representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs under Secretary Hillary Clinton at the United States Department of State during the Obama Administration. Previously, she served as vice president and counselor to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where she was the first Black woman in this role. Additionally, she served in the Clinton administration. She has been recognized for her commitment to public service, most notably in 2013 when she received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award. Her commitment to transatlantic affairs is also evident through her Life Membership to the Council on Foreign Relations and as a member of the Board of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security.
About the Joint Center: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank, provides compelling and actionable policy solutions to eradicate persistent and evolving barriers to the full freedom of Black people in America. We are the trusted forum for leading experts and scholars to participate in major public policy debates and promote ideas that advance Black communities. We use evidence-based research, analysis, convenings, and strategic communications to support Black communities and a network of allies.