Celebrating Women's History

Lewis: ‘I knew that I stand on the shoulders of phenomenal women’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When it comes to balance, Maggie Lewis has learned to navigate life as a wife, mother and community servant by tossing out perfection.

“I gave up this notion of balance a long time ago. I used to think I had to keep everything balanced in life. When I would mess up, I would mess up really big. I gave myself some grace, and I had to let go of this notion of balance,” said Lewis.

As the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis and Indianapolis City-County councilwoman, she is a modern-day pioneer.

“I know a lot of ceilings have been cracked, and I look forward to the day when all the ceilings are cracked, and every female feels like I can go on to do. I am all about dreaming big and daring to dream big,” said Lewis.

While chasing after her dreams, she’s managed to shatter some glass ceilings, becoming the first woman council president in 2012 and currently sits as the first woman Democratic majority leader.

We asked the trailblazer how it feels to become the first woman to hold these positions in government?

“Here is the thing. I feel like the good lord has a great sense of humor because nothing in my background says I would be the first anything. And being the first doesn’t come with any cheat sheets or a booklet on how to be the first female or the first that. I had to bump my head, and I had to learn. But it was so important that I showed up, and I got it right. I knew that I stand on the shoulders of phenomenal women,” said Lewis.

But her journey to becoming doesn’t begin here. Lewis’ mom had her at the age of 16.

“My mother said to me a long time ago, ‘Maggie Anne, you are called to do something great. You were called to do something good.’ So, I knew that when I grew up, I was going to be serving others,” said Lewis.

Though they struggled, her mother never stopped believing in her.

“The wisdom that she had to push education. To do what was right, to be your best. To always bring your best. That was magical to me,” said Lewis.

It’s that same kind of love she tries to pour into the kids at the Boys and Girls Club. She operates 12 locations serving Indy’s underserved youth, much living at or below the poverty line. A journey she can relate to.

“We were poor. There is no other way to say it. We were poor,” said Lewis. But, she added, “I watched my mother work two or three jobs to ensure we had everything that we needed in life.”

Despite it all, she continues to push through.

“You can have whatever you want. You get to define who you are and what’s important to you,” said Lewis.

And now, life has come full circle for this once club kid who was a part of the program in Columbus as a child.

“To be able to be at the Boys and Girls Club to love on our kids. To be a mentor and provide that support for them. I feel like it is an opportunity for me to give back the same way my mother and others as I grew up provided to me,” said Lewis.

But at the forefront of her list of achievements, family ranks at the top. A blessing, and she says, isn’t something earned based on merit or status.

“For me, the titles that are important are to me is my faith and my family and all of this other stuff is a bonus. I am a child of God. First, I am a wife first, a mother first. That’s the stuff that gets me up every morning.

Councilwoman Lewis continues to level up.

This month, Community Health Network appointed her to its board of directors.