Edward Lewis co-founded Essence Communications Inc. in 1970, one of the country’s largest African-American multi-media organizations. Essence was acquired by Time, Inc. in 2005. Lewis is also a co-founder of Latina, the first lifestyle magazine that exclusively addresses the interests of U.S. Hispanic women.
During his 35 years as Chairman, CEO and Publisher, he nurtured Essence into a media powerhouse, addressing the needs of black women. This brand included the Essence Awards, a TV show celebrating the contributions of African-Americans and the Essence Music Festival, a four-day event held in New Orleans during the Fourth of July, which attracts over 400,000 attendees annually. He also radically changed the perception of Madison Avenue regarding black women and awakened corporate America to their achievements and massive multi-billion dollar purchasing power. Lewis took this success and applied it to his next venture, Latina Magazine. He has served as Chairman since 2008.
As a mentor for a younger generation that shares his desire to create opportunities supporting the needs of entire communities, he has spoken on the topic of entrepreneurship at Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Yale, Columbia University, Howard and Tuskegee, as well as, at major companies such as Merrill Lynch, JCPenney, Kraft and Kellogg.
A major supporter and advocate of civic responsibility, Lewis serves on the boards of the New York Academy of Medicine, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theatre Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of America and is the former Chairman of the Harlem Village Academy – a charter school serving the needs of African-American and Latino children. In 1997, he became the first African-American Chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America. Previously, he served on the boards of Columbia Teacher’s College, Spelman College and Tuskegee University. President Barack Obama asked him to serve on the Board of Advisors for the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. His political activism led to his appointment on the New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Transition Committee, the Partnership of New York City and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Lewis is currently Senior Advisor to Solera Capital.
He received a Bachelor and Master of Arts from the University of New Mexico where he later was awarded an honorary Doctorate. A recipient of the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, considered the “Oscar” in publishing, he went on to receive the Henry Luce Award from Time, Inc.