||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2011)|
|Birth name||Loida Nicolas|
|Born||1942 (age 70–71)
Sorsogon City, Sorsogon, Philippines
|Field||businesswoman, philanthropist, civic leader, motivational speaker, author, and lawyer.|
Loida Nicolas Lewis (born 1942) is a Filipino-born American businesswoman, philanthropist, civic leader, motivational speaker, author, and lawyer.
Loida Nicolas Lewis served as Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice International, a $2 billion multinational food company with operations all across Europe, from 1994-2000. She assumed the leadership of one of the largest companies in the U.S. after the death of her husband, the African-American, Wall Street financier Reginald F. Lewis, and won over a skeptical business community by moving quickly to sell assets including the corporate jet, paying down debt, downsizing the New York corporate staff by 50 percent and increasing earnings. After successfully running the company for six years, she completed the sale of TLC Beatrice and its related businesses in 2000, achieving a 35 percent return on investment for its shareholders
In 1987, her late husband, Reginald, a Harvard Law graduate, had bid for and won the international operations of Beatrice International in a $1 billion leveraged buyout that at the time was the largest of its kind. In 1992, he was listed by Forbes Magazine as among the 400 wealthiest Americans. In 1995, Mrs. Lewis appeared on the cover of Working Woman magazine as the Top Business Woman in America.
Currently, Mrs. Lewis is Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, a family investment firm. A lawyer by profession, admitted to practice in the Philippines and New York, Mrs. Lewis was the first Filipino woman to pass the New York bar without attending law school in the United States.
An attorney by profession, Lewis served as an informal adviser and confidant to her late husband, Reginald F. Lewis, TLC Beatrice’s first chairman and CEO. TLC Beatrice was the successor to the international operations of Beatrice Foods. She assumed the leadership of the TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc. in February 1994, a year after Mr. Lewis’ death, succeeding her half-brother in law Jean Fugett Jr. She held around 55% of the shares. She cut costs and sold non-core and under performing assets (such as the company jet and limousines), reduced debt and strengthened her management team. In October 1995, she succeeded in selling $175 million in corporate bonds. She was named the top US woman business executive in September 1995 by The National Foundation for Women Business Owners and Working Woman magazine.
In September, 1997, the company sold its French food distribution business. In 1998, the company sold its European beverage operations. In 1999 it sold the ice-cream operations in Spain and the Canary Islands and its potato chips and snack business in Ireland. In 2000, the last unit of the company, Bireley’s in Thailand was also sold. Proceeds were distributed to the shareholders who enjoyed a 35% return on their investment.
Lewis earned a law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law around 1960 and was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1968. Lewis was the first Asian American to pass the American Bar (in 1974) without having been educated in the United States. She is eligible to practice law in the Philippines and New York.
She worked for the Law Students Civil Right Research Council in New York in 1969, Manhattan Legal Services from 1970-3, and as an attorney for the Immigration and Naturalization Services from 1979-90.
After having won her discrimination case against the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1987 and been awarded three years back pay, Mrs. Lewis served for ten years as General Attorney with the INS. She co-authored “How to Get A Green Card,” now in its 10th edition and a best-seller in its genre.
Lewis is the former National Chairwoman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (2002-2006), the largest advocacy group for Filipino Americans in the United States. She is the Chair of US Pinoys for Good Governance. Lewis is also an active board member of the Philippine Development Foundation, a public charity that focuses on building an ecosystem of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation for social and economic development in the Philippines.
Lewis is a philanthropist and a leader of the Filipino-American community. She is one of the founders of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) an advocacy group in the United States. She is also one of the founders of Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF), and is the National Chair and Co-Founder of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), organized after the election in May 2010 of Benigno Simeon Aquino III as President of the Philippines
In 1998 in her hometown of Sorsogon, Mrs. Lewis funded the microfinance People’s Alternative Livelihood Foundation of Sorsogon Inc. (PALFSI). The Foundation has since helped 20,000 families through micro-lending, helping lift them out of poverty.
In 1999, also in Sorsogon, Mrs. Lewis founded The Lewis College (TLC). The school offers Pre-K through high school and college coursework, including a six-month TESDA approved nursing assistant course. TLC is now recognized throughout the Bicol Region as a champion in information technology having won a regional competition in 2010.
Lewis is Chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to Harvard Law School, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland’s African-American History and Culture, and Virginia State University. There is a Reginald F. Lewis International Law building at Harvard, dedicated in April 1994 and the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business at Virginia State University, renamed in November 2012.
Lewis was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Reporter and the Apollo Theater Foundation.
Lewis also supports Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Asian Pacific American Film, Asian American Arts Alliance, Asian American Federation of New York, Asian American Foundation, Diversity Theater and Ma-Yi Theater.
She actively participated in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns of President Obama by being a major contributor and an active volunteer. She participated in voter registration, phone banks and get out the vote drives (Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, California, Indiana and New York). Lewis also represented President Obama in a debate opposite a representative of Gov. Mitt Romney hosted by The Filipino Channel (TFC) which aired in November 2012 to over a million Filipinos in the US.
Lewis frequently appears in charity and fund-raising events, making financial donations and moral support to poverty alleviation projects in the Philippines. She is also a motivational speaker and lecturer on wealth generation, entrepreneurship, career planning, and immigration laws.
In 1999, she founded a school in Sorsogon City, The Lewis College, that teaches Kindergarten through college students.
Early life and personal life
Born and raised in the Sorsogon City, Philippines, Lewis has four siblings. Her father, Francisco J. Nicolas, started one of the country’s largest furniture manufacturing firms, Nicfur. She is a Catholic.
She attended St. Agnes Academy (formerly Academia de Sta. Ines), the oldest Catholic school in Albay, Philippines. Lewis graduated cum laude from St. Theresa's College, a private, Roman Catholic women's college in Manila, Philippines (that location has since closed). At the University of Philippines she was involved in the student council and the national union of students.
Nicolas-Lewis met her husband-to-be Reginald F. Lewis on a blind date in New York in 1968, when she was on a round the world trip and staying with her sister Imelda, then a student at Columbia University. They married on 16 August 1969 in Manila. Their first daughter Leslie was born in 1973. Reginald Lewis acquired Beatrice International in December 1987 in a $985 million leveraged buyout, creating the largest African American-owned company in the United States. The family moved to Paris in 1990. Lewis has spoken to audiences around the United States and the world to promote the biography of her late husband, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?….How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion Dollar Business Empire.
- "TLC Beatrice Chief Quits in Surprise Move". New York Times. 6 January 1994. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Gilpin, Kenneth N. (20 May 1994). "A Small Loss Narrows for TLC Beatrice". New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Briscoe, David; Associated Press (10 October 1995). "Her low-key approach strengthens Beatrice". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Hirahara, Naomi (2003). Distinguished Asian American business leaders. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 125. ISBN 1-57356-344-7.
- Abarquez-Delacruz, Prosy (7 May 2011). "Loida Nicolas Lewis on ‘Diaspora to Development’ and Medicare portability". Asian Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2011.