Celebrated Humanitarian and Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa
Stephen Lewis is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is the board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which is dedicated to turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and he is co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization.
Lewis is a Senior Fellow of the Enough Project. He is an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Emeritus Board Member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He served as a Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law; the Commission’s landmark report was released in July 2012.
Lewis’ work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades. He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. From 1995 to 1999, Lewis was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York. From 1984 through 1988, he was Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations.
From 1970-1978, Lewis was leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, during which time he became leader of the Official Opposition.
Lewis is the author of the best-selling book, Race Against Time. He holds 35 honorary degrees from Canadian universities, as well as honorary degrees from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
In 2003, Lewis was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. In 2007, King Letsie III, monarch of the Kingdom of Lesotho (a small mountainous country in Southern Africa) invested Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe. The order is named for the founder of Lesotho; the knighthood is the country’s highest honour. And in 2012, Lewis was an inaugural recipient of Canada’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
In 2013, Stephen was delighted to receive an honorary degree from the Université du Québec à Montréal.
An Evening with Stephen Lewis
A masterful orator, Stephen Lewis enthralls with keynotes on the fight against disease and poverty in the developing world: clarion calls that bring audiences to their feet-- sometimes to tears-- and that get them, whether citizens, governments, or corporations, to take action. He can speak generally about the developing world, or to specific issues, such as HIV/AIDS, economic development, climate change, and a myriad of other topics. He carefully tailors his speeches, enlivens them with anecdotes and humor, and is never ashamed of the emotion that may overtake him. Without doubt, he is one of history's great humanitarians.
Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa
The AIDS pandemic of Africa has killed 19 million people, 4 million of them children. It is the world's worst health disaster since the Middle Ages. The problems are so staggering they seem incomprehensible. But Canadian diplomat Stephen Lewis manages to explain their roots, give them a human face, and outline solutions in his important book Race Against Time.
As the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Lewis has an insider's view of the political stonewalling of Western countries as well as the brutal realities of AIDS-ravaged villages in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Lewis is the son of federal New Democratic Party leader David Lewis and was himself head of the Ontario NDP. He is frank that he has "a love affair with Africa"--first kindled when he was a teacher in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda during the early 1960s. After a stint as Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Lewis launched into a new career as an international diplomat, holding top jobs at UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Lewis doesn't hide his fury at Western complicity in Africa's AIDS catastrophe. He says African countries were brought to their knees by World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies that forced many governments to gut health care and social programs in the 1980s. Africa's hamstrung societies were unable to care for their citizens when AIDS struck. "I have spent the last four years watching people die," he writes. "The ongoing plight of Africa forces me to perpetual rage. It's all so unnecessary, so crazy." Lewis's book is passionately written and poignantly brings home the truth that the distant tragedy in Africa is not so distant at all.