Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Lewis Is Committed to Giving Back to Community — and SPPD
from SPPD Staff Reports
Jim Lewis vividly remembers the kind of enriching “family environment” present at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development during his undergraduate years more than a decade ago.
“I was cared for here. Faculty members exposed me to things I never would have imagined,” Lewis said. “They invested in me.”
Now, he’s returning the favor.
Lewis, the 33-year-old the assistant city manager of Atascadero, Calif., recently donated a $250,000 insurance trust to SPPD — reciprocating the investment he received as a student.
“Not only is Jim’s donation very generous, but it’s also extremely unique,” said Scott Jacobson, director of annual giving at SPPD. “A commitment like this is uncommon from younger professionals. It shows our young alumni that, regardless of age, you can make a significant contribution toward our school’s advancement.”
Giving Back to the School
According to Lewis, the donation reflects his support of the school’s mission.
“SPPD is preparing the leaders of tomorrow by coming up with cutting-edge solutions for today’s problems,” he said. “As Baby Boomers leave, we need to find and prepare leaders to step in and fill this void.”
In addition, Lewis remains actively involved in the SPPD community, serving on the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors. Also, as a member of the advisory board for Master of Public Administration program, he reaches out to students and shares his experiences in local governance.
“It is a very diverse and intelligent group of students at SPPD; they are able to connect the dots and solve real-world problems,” Lewis said. “I am noticing that very few talk about going into local government, which is obviously a passion of mine.
“My passion is public service, and local government is at the heart, because – more than any other area – it touches people everyday. I want to make sure students are exposed to that.”
Giving Back to the Community
During his junior year of college in 1996, Lewis received the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for students pursuing degrees in public service.
It afforded him the opportunity to travel to Missouri and meet Margaret Truman, the former president’s daughter. But more importantly, the award fueled Lewis’ passion for making a difference in the community.
“President Truman was a hero of mine — he led as a servant of the people and didn’t get caught up in the power of politics,” he said. “I try to keep that mindset in all that I do in my position. Being part of change in the community is a privilege.”
Today, Lewis focuses on improving neighborhoods throughout the city of Atascadero. His litany of responsibilities include managing economic development, human resources, technology, organizational training and development, the creation of new revenues and operating efficiencies, as well as several special projects and capital projects.
Beyond his dedicated work in city government, Lewis has a distinguished record of service among civic and professional organizations as well.
He was president of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California in 2001 and serves on the Emerging Leaders Task Force, as well as the advisory board, for the International City and County Management Association. Lewis also serves on the board of directors for the Kiwanis Club in Atascadero, and he is currently vice president of the Los Padres Council Boy Scouts of America.