Former NPR President and U.S. Ambassador Delano Lewis has died at 84

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Delano Lewis, a former president of Nationwide Public Radio and U.S. ambassador to South Africa, is lifeless at 84. NPR disguise caption

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Delano Lewis, a former president of Nationwide Public Radio and U.S. ambassador to South Africa, is lifeless at 84.

He died on Wednesday whereas in hospice care in Las Cruces, N.M., in line with the Las Cruces Bulletin.

Lewis was named president of NPR in 1993, changing into the primary Black individual to take the position. He got here to the job with an extended resume, together with many management positions inside Washington, D.C.’s politics and enterprise circles.

Born in 1938 in Arkansas Metropolis, Kan., Lewis grew up in a segregated neighborhood, and have become excited by civil rights legislation at a younger age, in line with the Bulletin. After graduating legislation faculty from the Washburn College Faculty of Regulation in Topeka in 1963, he ultimately took positions on the Justice Division and Equal Employment Alternative Fee.

Thus started an extended profession in Washington. He turned affiliate director and nation director for the Peace Corps in Nigeria and Uganda from 1966 to 1969, then turned a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, the primary Black man elected to the Senate, and Rep. Walter Fauntroy, a non-voting delegate to the District of Columbia.

Just a few years later, Lewis was a part of the cost to offer D.C. extra autonomy, and helped usher the Dwelling Rule Act by Congress, which established a neighborhood legislative council to be chosen by the district’s residents. Quickly after, Lewis ran for metropolis council, his one and solely bid for public workplace, however misplaced to future D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. When Barry gained the mayoral race in 1978, nonetheless, Lewis led the transition workforce.

His affect in Washington prolonged into enterprise, too; he turned CEO of the Chesapeake & Potomac Phone Firm in 1990, having labored on the firm for over a decade. Later, when he began his tenure as president of NPR, he advised All Issues Thought-about that he was drawn to the brand new challenges that main public radio supplied.

“[I’ve] been in authorities for 10 years, and C&P Phone [and] the enterprise world for 20. I simply actually felt a brand new problem was so as,” he stated.

Whereas at NPR, he helped advocate towards the elimination of public broadcasting funds. He additionally tried to merge the group with one in every of its biggest rivals – Public Radio Worldwide – however backed off when the boards of each firms balked on the prospect.

He was each “accused of, and credited with, bringing a enterprise sensibility to public radio,” as NPR reporter Brooke Gladstone put it when he departed the group in 1998, 5 years after he began.

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Lewis, heart, walks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (proper) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (left) on the best way to a personal assembly on the workplaces of the Reality and Reconciliation Fee in Cape City in 2000. Shawn Benjamin/AFP through Getty Photos disguise caption

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Shawn Benjamin/AFP through Getty Photos

Lewis deliberate to retire after he left NPR. “It is a private choice that I will pursue enjoyable issues in life,” he advised employees when he introduced his departure. Retirement did not final lengthy, although. In accordance with his 2019 autobiography, No Situation Is Everlasting: A Assortment of Recollections, Lewis received a name from Vice President Al Gore whereas packing to maneuver to Las Cruces for retirement. President Invoice Clinton had nominated him to be the following ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, a place that he accepted after which held from 1999 to 2001.

In an announcement, present NPR CEO John Lansing praised Lewis’ “exceptional profession” of public service.

“A loyal NPR listener and supporter of public radio, he joked concerning the prolonged course of to grow to be head of NPR saying: ‘I by no means labored so exhausting for a pay minimize in my life.’ The NPR and public radio household be a part of his household and buddies, who will miss him dearly,” Lansing stated.


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