“Change is good every now and again.”
That’s what Maggie Lewis said during her exclusive chat with the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper.
Lewis is accustomed to change. Changing history, that is.
For six of her 10 years on the Indianapolis City County Council, Lewis served as president. She was the first woman to do so. While serving as the council’s leader, she was known for always being prepared. Similar to football players who review previous plays, Lewis would watch every single committee meeting and council meeting.
“I made it a point to always do my homework,” she said.
Though Lewis is no longer at the helm of the council, she says she is as committed to her district as she has always been.
“I was elected to serve a four-year term and I am committed to serving District 10 and my professional responsibilities. I have done it in the past and I will continue to give 100 percent to the community.”
Outside of politics, Lewis has found herself in the all too familiar role as history maker. This week she began her new role as CEO and executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis. She is the first woman to hold such a position.
“While I am very humbled to know that I’ve made history, my focus has always been on doing the work. Being the first to do something is great, but impacting lives is better. I am grounded in positively impacting the lives of Indianapolis residents.”
For those close to Lewis, her latest career move is perfectly aligned with her personal life.
“Maggie and I met while working out and teaching aerobics together. From then on, our relationship grew because she invited me to get involved in service to the community. At the time she was working at Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation and asked me to serve food for the holidays,” Nichole Wilson, Lewis’ friend of nearly 20 years stated. “Maggie has an ease for getting people involved and that will be well-suited for this role. I am glad she is able to get back to her roots of community involvement and lead at a high level that impacts citizens in our community. That has been her passion since I met her.”
Lewis’ mom, Vanessa Hearn says the characteristics her daughter has as a woman are the same characteristics she possessed as a child.
“I am very proud of everything she does,” Hearn said. I have always expected great things of all of my children, so this is no surprise. She is very giving. She was always very caring for others as a child, even when she had to share her bed. She is a woman of principle. Everything I instilled in her as a child, she lives by, which is good because people forget. It’s great that she still has those qualities.”
While youth and fitness have been focal points in Lewis’ life both personally and professionally, so too has advocacy.
From 2010 to 2014 she served as executive director of Dove Recovery House for Women, Marion County’s largest substance abuse recovery center for women. There, Lewis elevated the profile of the organization and was responsible for all of the fundraising efforts. Lewis started the Dessert Auction, an event that sells cakes and cookies for the sake of saving women’s lives. Dessert Auction remains the organization’s signature fundraiser.
“On a personal note I enjoyed watching these folks who humbled themselves to say, ‘my life is no longer manageable, I need help,’” Lewis said. “For them to be at their lowest and find the strength to ask for help was amazing. Those women are some of the strongest people I have ever met. It was just amazing to be part of that journey.”
The dedicated servant says there are a lot of parallels between her work at Dove Recovery House and her new role as CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis.
“It is about serving those who are most in need. Working for agencies like this speaks to that part of my heart that wants to serve others. You are serving people in your community who truly need you and depend on you. Those are very rewarding positions for a person like me to be in.”
While Lewis’ talent, passionate heart and years of service have prepared her to lead the Boys & Girls Club, so too has her past.
“I grew up in Columbus, Indiana, and went to a Boys & Girls Club there. It was a safe haven for my brothers and I while my mom worked two and three jobs,” Lewis said empathetically. “I can personally relate. I understand how it feels to be on the other side. I am not just a service provider, I was also a client.”
Lewis said entities like Boys & Girls Clubs are essential to the development of children.
“In this day and age we talk so much about crime. I feel our babies need a place they can go and be safe. We understand parents are working jobs. The Boys & Girls Clubs are a place children can grow and learn leadership skills, a place they can go and be educated while mom and dad are out doing what they can do for their families. Regardless of our backgrounds, it is our duty to ensure our babies have all the tools they need to be successful.”
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis. Lewis says she is eager to build upon the organization’s foundation.
“To come in and be part of an organization with such a strong foundation is not only humbling, it is exciting to know I have an opportunity to take the organization to an even stronger level. I recognize it will be a challenge but I welcome the challenge to ensure that people in our community are taken care of. I hope my leadership will help the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis grow and sustain so they can be around for another 125 years.”
Maggie Lewis CEO and executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis chats with Bill Marty Jr. board member and a Coca-Cola Ambassador. (Photo/Diana Penn)