ILA Podcast

Women on the Rise: A Leadership Journey

Maureen Metcalf Podcast Cover

with Reta Jo Lewis


“It’s not just about the the betterment of you and your family. It’s about the betterment of the community.”

That is one of the core values that helped guide Reta Jo Lewis through an eventful leadership journey, culminating in her current role as president and chair of the board of the Export Import Bank of the United States — the first African American to accomplish this. She is a passionate advocate for women in entrepreneurship and has a long history of working in politics and law.

In this episode, she shares more about her amazing leadership path (including time with Nelson Mandela), and how that can help you in your own career journey. 

Lewis recently participated in ILA’s 2022 Global Conference in Washington, D.C., as a plenary speaker. 

Here’s what Reta Jo and host Maureen Metcalf cover:

  1. The importance of feeling you’re working for something bigger than just yourself;
  2. Having confidence that the skills and knowledge you have now prepared you for your next career opportunity; and
  3. Why forging a network and relationships with peers, mentors, and role models is so important to developing as a leader.

About Reta Jo Lewis

Ms. Lewis is a senior executive with over 25 years of leadership experience in international affairs, legal, public policy, business and regulatory affairs, and subnational diplomacy. 

On February 9, 2022, the U.S. Senate confirmed Reta Jo Lewis as EXIM’s President and Chair of the Board of Directors. Ms. Lewis was most recently a Senior Fellow and Director of Congressional Affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Prior to her time at GMF, she served as the first-ever Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs under Secretary Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State during the Obama-Biden Administration. As Special Representative, Lewis was the chief diplomat in charge of the international efforts to build and support strategic relationships between the federal government, state and local leaders, and their foreign counterparts. In 2013, she was awarded the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award. 


Ms. Lewis was the first Black woman to serve as Vice President and Counselor to the President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She led the Chamber’s initiatives focused on fostering strategic alliances between small businesses, especially women- and minority-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and executives. She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Member of the Board of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security. Ms. Lewis received a J.D. from Emory University School of Law, an M.S.A.J. from American University, and a B.A. from the University of Georgia. She is a native of Statesboro, Georgia.

Host Maureen Metcalf

Maureen Metcalf

Maureen Metcalf brings 30 years of experience and success in the fields of leadership, innovation, and technology. A regular contributor to, Metcalf has authored an award-winning book series on leadership and is the Founder & CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. She is the host of an Innovating Leadership, a weekly international podcast that hit the airways in July 2015. As an ILA Fellow, Maureen partners with the International Leadership Associate on a series of global leadership podcasts within the show.

About Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future

The pace of change in the world is increasing exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down. Leadership is evolving and requires more and more innovative leaders to keep up. Many leaders update what they lead but not how they think about and act as leaders. They become outdated. This matters because Leadership creates strategic advantage.

 Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future features interviews with global business executives, thought leaders and academics in a wide range of industries. They discuss their most pressing issues and the innovative approaches they have employed to transform their challenges into opportunities and advantages. The application of proven concepts and tools that may be applied to build your organization and deliver sustainable success are presented and discussed.

Each year, the ILA partners with Innovating Leadership on a mini-series of Global Leadership podcasts.