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Wilma Lewis '78 Named District Court Judge for US Virgin Islands


Wilma Lewis '78 Named District Court Judge for U.S. Virgin Islands

by James Wright '13

Wilma Lewis '78 credits Swarthmore with "fuel[ing] a continuing desire to develop my own talents and abilities, a passion for reaching deep within to give my very best, and the courage to face new challenges with a strong belief in myself and my possibilities."

Wilma Lewis '78 is heading back home in high style. The Senate recently confirmed Lewis, who was raised in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, as the next District Court Judge for the U.S. Virgin Islands.  She will be the first female District Court judge for the Virgin Islands.

Lewis most recently served as the Assistant Secretary for the Department of the Interior. As the Assistant Secretary, Lewis is responsible for policy and oversight of the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. In that position she held responsibility for 256 million acres of the National System of Public Lands and 1.7 billion acres of the Federal Outer Continental Shelf.

No stranger to the Department of the Interior, Lewis first started as an Associate Solicitor from 1993-1995 before becoming Inspector General, the first African American to hold that office,  from 1995-98. She departed to become the first woman to serve as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1998-2001.  Additionally, Lewis helped guide Freddie Mac through its financial crisis from 2007-2008 as its Managing Associate General Counsel for Litigation.

Lewis graduated from Swarthmore in 1978 with a BA in Political Science and earned her JD from Harvard Law School in 1981. Since her professional career began, she has received numerous awards and accolades over her varied career including the Janet Reno Torchbearer Award; the Charlotte E. Ray Award; the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dream Keepers Award; the Bethune-Dubois Institute Award; and the National Black Prosecutors Association Founders' Award.