Ambassador Lewis, executive director of Daroke Resources and president of Lewis Lucke LLC, served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland from 2004 until 2006. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in international studies from Carolina, and he holds a master’s degree in of business administration. He is the author of Waiting for Rain: Life and Development in Mali, W. Africa (Christopher Publishing House, 1998). A native of Burlington, N.C., he lives in Austin, Texas.
What languages do you speak?
French, Spanish (both fluent); Arabic (working knowledge); and English.
What countries have you lived in since graduating from Carolina?
Mali, Senegal, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Bolivia, Jordan, Haiti, Kuwait, Iraq, Brazil, Swaziland and Italy.
What was your career path?
I joined the foreign service with USAID after business school and served in a succession of 11 countries during the next 30 years in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. I was the first USAID mission director in Baghdad, Iraq (2002-2004), then served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland (2004-2006) and was executive staff at the World Food Program—Rome (2006-2008). I returned to the U.S. in 2008 and started my own international consulting firm and was then recalled to USAID in 2010 to lead the U.S. response to the earthquake in Haiti. Now I’m with Daroke Resources, bringing U.S. investment and infrastructure development, such as mining, affordable housing and power, into West Africa.
How did Carolina prepare you for your career?
A UNC archaeological dig I took part of in Israel in 1968 opened my eyes to the greater world and the Middle East in particular. My UNC year-long study abroad program in France brought further awareness of European culture and politics and left me fluent in French, which gave me a big career boost as I served for 10 years in the foreign service in French-speaking countries.
What global experiences have you had since UNC, and how did Carolina prepare or inspire you to pursue such endeavors?
I have traveled to 96 countries, lived in 13 and worked in probably 40 or more. Carolina provided me the first opportunity for overseas work and travel and therefore changed my life forever. As a result of my international experiences at UNC, particularly the archaeological dig in Israel and my year in France, I became determined to lead a life of international achievement and service, trying in a small way to help make the world a better place.
What at Carolina sparked or first fostered your interest in global issues and cultures?
The 1968 archaeological dig I participated in as a high school senior in Lachish, Israel, led by the late Bernard Boyd, legendary professor in the UNC department of religious studies. We excavated this Solomon-era “chariot city” that had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. We also excavated an Israelite altar that matched the dimensions described in the Bible.
If you could introduce current students to one world destination, where would it be and why?
I would introduce students to Haiti. The country is so close but so poignantly needful and different from home. The Haitians are wonderful, hard-working people with very little and who were recently devastated by the 2010 earthquake. I would send students to Haiti in order to understand how some of our near neighbors live in stark juxtaposition to our own lives, and to realize how lucky we have it in the U.S., and at the same time how we need to appreciate how our own country is so different. We should realize too how trivial some of our pursuits and preoccupations are compared to the daily struggles of our Haitian neighbors.
April 4, 2014.