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Linda Lewis talks lessons of Black leadership


The #METOO movement culminated into a major tipping point in women’s efforts to achieve gender equality. Consequently, at least 200 prominent men have since lost their jobs, and some have faced criminal charges.

Here in Los Angeles, many women of color have been engaged in leadership roles on civic and statewide levels to usher in a new era of leadership that disrupts old models of education, business, and political office.

A self-described “social communicator” who is sought after to help businesses and organizations with resolutions, Linda Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science and African Studies and a master’s degree in Negotiation Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding. Lewis for the past five years has been the president of the Hollywood Black Chamber of Commerce. She also served two terms as president of Black Women’s Network in Los Angeles.

Lewis explains how this new climate has impacted her position as a leader amid a social revolution that’s changing the cultural narrative for women in business.

What does female leadership mean to you in this new METOO climate?

Lewis—“Female leadership is very important especially today in the new #METOO climate. It means that you must be persistent and put your foot down. Females today are less tolerant than females in the past. They are stronger and wiser. They have the Enough is Enough attitude.”

What are the characteristics of a good leader?

Lewis—“A good leader acts to resolve situations by providing a solution. They are determined to get results. They are enthusiastic about bringing new ideas to the organization. They are effective communicators. They are passionate about the concerns of others and utilize their unique values to address them. A good leader takes on difficult problems and tries to make it a win/win situation, especially when it involves others. They can handle conflict well. They are the power behind an organization.”

Why did you decide to get involved with the chamber?

Lewis—“My involvement with the chamber started as an administrative position. When the president of the Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce’s corporate office approached me to lead the Hollywood Black Chamber chapter, I was thrilled.

“Being a person who enjoys helping others, I saw an opportunity to assist community businesses and entrepreneurs with room for potential growth using my knowledge of community business as well as the collaboration with the council of chambers and businesses affiliated with the chamber.

“There are a lot of city chambers, but culturally, being part of a Black chamber takes it to another level. Black businesses have more opportunity to be visible through, referrals, award recognition, community events, etc.”

How many Black Chambers chapters are there in Los Angeles, SoCal and across the nation?

Lewis—“There may be at least 10 chapters of Black Chambers just in the Los Angeles area. Hollywood Black Chamber is a chapter of Southern California’s Black Chamber. There are 12 chapters from the desert to the sea. There may be 30 in SoCal and more than 50 across the nation. Any corporation, small business, individual or entrepreneur is eligible to join.”

How relevant is the chamber today in terms of attracting younger women?

Lewis—“Younger women today are our future. They are eager to learn and participate. They are looking for leadership, just as we are looking for them to be leaders. In order to attract younger women, there must be something they can do, and we must allow them to do it. Organizations areconstantly saying they want to attract younger women, but when they get them, they won’t allow them to use their skills and knowledge.”

What do you have coming up?

Lewis—“Hollywood Chamber has a business mixer every third Thursday of each month. We have an award dinner coming up after summer. The corporate office of the chamber has an annual Celebrity Golf Tournament at Morongo Casino in June.”

What have you accomplished that you are most proud of?

Lewis—“I stepped into the president’s position for Marva Smith Battle-Bey, the organizing founder of Black Women’s Network, upon on her transition. I was president of Black Women’s Network for

two terms. This was a very proud moment for me following the footsteps of a renowned leader. Another accomplishment I’m proud of is recently returning to school and getting my master’s degree.”

Give a famous quote that best describes you or your philosophy on female leadership?

Lewis—“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” (Shirley Chisholm).