A life and career centered in service can take one many places. For Ambassador Delano Lewis it has ranged from his early roots in Kansas City, KS to service in the Peace Corps in Africa, being named CEO of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company (C&P Telephone Company), President and CEO of National Public Radio, appointed by President Clinton as Ambassador to South Africa, or serving on the boards of directors of multiple Fortune 500 companies. Lewis has travelled the world, built a significant professional legacy and raised an educated successful family while doing it.
Desmond Tutu, Ambassador Delano and Gayle Lewis, 1982 Africare Dinner.
Within Lewis’ distinguished career is a recurring theme of service that originated from his formative years in his hometown with his family, friends and the church. Consistent emphasis on education created opportunities that changed his life.
“I grew up in the segregated times of Kansas City. The neighborhood, the schools, my teachers were all black. What I came away with, as I look back on those years, was a strong educational background with the teachers who were extraordinary,” shared Lewis. “Many of our teachers had their Master’s Degrees at Sumner High School, while working on their PhDs. They couldn’t get jobs other places because of discrimination, so they were our teachers at Sumner and they were absolutely outstanding. My early years in Kansas City, Kansas provided me a strong educational foundation.”
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas, Lewis went on to graduate from the Washburn University School of Law. Following graduation from Law school, Lewis accepted a position with the Dept. of Justice in Washington, DC. In 1966, Lewis was offered and accepted a staff position, associate director with the US Peace Corps in Nigeria. When the Nigerian Civil War, prompted the evacuation of the Peace Corps, Lewis was named Country Director for the Peace Corps program in Uganda; managing 160 Peace Corps volunteers.