No Condition Is Permanent
US Ambassador Delano Lewis
Posted on 10/15/2018
US Ambassador Delano Lewis

When former United States Ambassador to South Africa Delano Lewis visits Cristo Rey Kansas City on October 17, he will speak to the student body about change. Perhaps Lewis will use a quote from the great statesman Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.”

The average person will change careers five to seven times during their working life according to career change statistics. There is nothing average about Delano Lewis. In broad strokes, Lewis is an attorney, businessman and diplomat. Under a microscope, he is so much more.

Born in 1938 in Arkansas City, Kansas, Lewis was named for then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  As the son of a Santa Fe Railroad worker, Lewis’ family came to Kansas City where he attended and graduated from Sumner High School in 1956. After undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas, he earned a law degree from Washburn University. Lewis worked his way through law school at the Menninger Clinic.

With degree in hand, Lewis embarked on a career in the U.S. Justice Department and later with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As the nation increased its scrutiny on protecting the civil rights of its citizens, Lewis was tasked with investigating workplace discrimination based on race, age, national origin, religion or gender.

A global citizen, Lewis joined the Peace Corps in 1966 first as associate director and later country director in Nigeria and Uganda. Stateside in 1969, Lewis was public affairs manager and later chief executive officer for Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company. Appointed by President Clinton as United States Ambassador to South Africa, Lewis served from 1999-2001. He served alongside President Nelson Mandela as he concluded his tenure as the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a democratic election.

In 1993, Lewis was appointed president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio. In retirement, Lewis captured his personal memoirs in “No Condition is Permanent,” taking the title from a favored African Proverb. The book explores Lewis’ life from small-town boyhood to the efforts it took to navigate the diplomatic corps and corporate world.

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About Cristo Rey Kansas City

Cristo Rey Kansas City is a private, Catholic, college preparatory high school sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. As one of the 35 schools in the Cristo Rey Network, the school serves culturally diverse students with economic need. An innovative Corporate Work Study Program enables students to expand horizons while earning approximately half of the cost of education. With its first graduating class in 2010 and in each year thereafter, 100% of the school’s graduates have been accepted to college.