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Loida Nicolas Lewis (left) with Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Sen. Charles Schumer at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan Monday.


Filipino-American businesswoman and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis was honored with the Trailblazer of Democracy Award by The Eleanor’s Legacy organization during its fall Luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan Monday.

Eleanor’s Legacy, which is focused on empowering women’s political candidates that follow in the footsteps of former United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, cited Lewis for her continued contributions to the empowerment of women in the political and public arena.

Eleanor’s Legacy supports Democratic women who are aspiring for local and state offices in New York, and connects candidates with political volunteers and experts, and teaches them about running campaigns.

Lewis was a supporter of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, as well as the current Philippine President’s campaign in 2010, when she visited different U.S. states to campaign for then Senators Benigno Aquino III and Mar Roxas.

She also is a stern advocate of voter registration and mobilization, so that together, Filipino-Americans can effect change in the U.S. electoral results and show power in their numbers.

She also endorses absentee voting registration for elections in the Philippines.

“The triumph of Loida Nicolas Lewis’ life reminds us all that the real legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt is an obligation to think of ourselves as citizens of the world,” says Hassell-Thompson.

“Loida has followed in the footsteps of Mrs. Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt was known as the first lady of the world, and Loida’s vision of a better world, where children are given a chance to learn, where giving young women a chance to lead is not contained to New York State.”

Also among the honored guests was New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who also spoke highly of Lewis while addressing the crowd.

“Loida Lewis is one of America’s leading Filipina women,” states Schumer.

“Fifteen years ago, when there was a desperate shortage of nurses in this country, and the talent of Filipina women to come here and be nurses was being blocked by the same kind of non-thinking approach to immigration that too many exhibit in Washington today, Loida led the charge to change. There are now thousands of Filipina nurses in America, and particularly in New York.”

Just as Mrs. Roosevelt stepped to the forefront when her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt fell ill during his presidency, Lewis stepped forward as CEO of her husband Reginald F. Lewis’ investment firm TLC Beatrice following his untimely death at the age of 50.

Loida Lewis, who was the first Asian woman to pass the bar exam in New York without studying in the U.S., showed she was a capable businesswoman in her own right, eliminating the company’s debt while making a series of decisions that resulted in an internal return of 35% for stockholders.

“I accept this with great honor and humility, and I am honored to represent my fellow Filipinos” said Lewis who is the first and only Filipina Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Awardee.

During her speech, Lewis was applauded multiple times when she shared her secrets to achieving success.

She named goal setting, maintaining order in your life and having determination in your endeavors as her keys to success.

She pointed out that the three key words in her three tips (Goals, Order, Determination) spell out GOD.

“With God, everything is possible,” she said.

“Nothing is impossible.”

Nasa tao ang gawa, nasa Diyos ang awa,” she said in Filipino.

“God has been so good to me, he has given me so many blessings and advantages, we have to give back, we have to share and that’s what I’m doing.”

As a philanthropist, she has contributed a considerable amount to a number of causes, such as The Lewis College in her Philippine hometown of Sorsogon province that gives scholarships to Filipino children from pre-K to college.

She also inspires as she leads programs like the People’s Alternative Livelihood Foundation, which is responsible for lifting 20,000 families in the Philippines out of poverty through micro-financing.

Lewis leads many political efforts and philanthropic organizations, including the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG).

She is also a trustee of the Philippine Development (PhilDev) Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides Filipino students with scholarships in science and technology, to promote social and economic development in the Philippines.

On Nov. 7, PhilDev is celebrating Fil-Am talents on Broadway, led by Tony Winner Lea Salonga, at the Lincoln Center to raise funds for PhilDev’s projects, with Lewis co-chairing the benefit show.

Schumer and fellow U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand serve as honorary chairs.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney is expected to attend and read a proclamation designating Nov. 7 a special day to celebrate Fil-Am contribution to the arts and culture of America.

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