By Tashi McQueen, AFRO Political Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
Monica Lewis has known she wanted to write and work in the media field since she was in third grade.
The idea persisted throughout high school and college, where she combined her love of sports with her passion for writing.
The Howard University graduate with 25 years of experience in communications, recently took on the role of senior director of communications for the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Communications.
Lewis was born in Philadelphia and raised in New Castle, Del.
At Howard, Lewis first majored in broadcast journalism, then switched to print news in her sophomore year, trusting it to be a better path.
The seasoned journalist interned at the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Daily Times. Her respect for the field has continued, and as a public relations expert, she uses her background to do her work.
HBCUs provided Lewis with lifetime mentors and great supporters. Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa, a professor at Howard, and Jackie Jones, dean of communications at Morgan, were essential to her career.
Lewis said Kaggwa supported her and often referred to his students as a family. Jones took an interest in Lewis during her internship in Philadelphia and remained connected. Lewis expressed how she made her feel seen as a Black woman in the news industry.
“I am probably the loudest cheerleader for HBCUs you’ll ever meet,” said Lewis. “I don’t think I would be where I am or who I am without my Howard experience – it’s like home.”
Her daughter is currently attending Howard University.
“They expect excellence every day at Howard,” said Lewis. “It was the most enlightening, enjoyable, fun, and productive time of my life.”
Lewis received her Master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She covered the NFL, WNBA, and NCAA Women’s Basketball for ESPN during her career. She also worked at the New York Post and the Courier Post in New Jersey.
Lewis was employed at the School District of Philadelphia as the deputy chief of communications. She was in charge of media relations management and served as the spokesperson for the district.
In her role as senior communications director, she works with Mayor Scott to establish central messaging for the administration. Lewis officially took office on June 13.
Lewis directs the Office of Communications staff and determines department-wide priorities. Her other duties include creating communications strategies for media.
Roughly 62 percent of residents in Baltimore City are Black, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. As a Black woman, Lewis believes she will be most effective in her role through her understanding of the Black experience and strife.
“It’s vital to have people representative of the population they serve in these positions,” said Lewis.
Mayor Scott was happy to welcome a Black woman into the role.
“If you want to get anywhere the right way–go there with Black women,” said Mayor Scott to the AFRO. “We’re excited to have Monica here, we’re excited to have leadership from HBCUs. As a Black woman she will be able to connect with and understand so many of the issues that our residents are facing, which will allow her to be successful at her job.”
Though she’s grateful for her new position, Lewis says her best role is being a mother.
“People who know me know that I love my kids to pieces,” said Lewis. “When my kids have events, I will make the time.”
Lewis is one of many Black mothers that continue to do fantastic work in the community while remaining mothers first.
Lewis is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Jack and Jill of America, and a founder of the Philadelphia Chapter of Twelve Days of Christmas, a fundraising organization for U.S. children and families.
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