Filipino-Americans and guests at the Reginald F. Lewis Film Preview Event at the Harvard Club in New York on Feb. 15, 2018 with Loida Nicolas Lewis (seated at left) and Carolyn Fugett (seated at right).  (Photos by Marilyn Abalos and Edwin Josue)

Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

It was a family night with Filipino-American Loida Nicolas Lewis at the Harvard Club in New York on Feb. 15, 2018.

More than 200 friends, family and colleagues attended the Preview Event of PIONEERS: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire.

In celebration of Black History Month, PBS stations in the New York-New Jersey area will air the 30-minute documentary film about Reginald F. Lewis, making it the first in a new WNET series, PIONEERS.

Directed by award-winning Geraldine Moriba (and Executive Producer), the broadcast date is set for Saturday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. on NJTV.

The documentary was already aired on WLIW21 (Feb. 16) and WNET 13 (Feb. 18).

There are also plans to show the film in a few local schools, including Fordham University.

For more info, visit www.reginaldflewis.com.


The late Reginald F. Lewis.

This writer watched the RF Lewis film over the past weekend with family and friends.

The PBS documentary tells the story of the life and legacy of business pioneer and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis.

He was a Harvard Law School graduate who rose to distinction as a lawyer, venture capitalist and leader of TLC Beatrice International.

The documentary narrates his journey from Baltimore to Harvard Law School to Wall Street.

Clips of his mother, Carolyn Fugett, children Leslie Lewis and Christina Lewis Halpern and his widow Loida Nicolas Lewis relate much of his spirit, compassion and character, as well as their lives with him.

Business colleagues, civil rights leaders and public officials recount his brilliance, ambition and charisma.

He was the first American to close an overseas billion dollar leverage buyout deal.

From 10 customers of his newspaper delivery route to 64 companies in 31 countries, he paved the way for future entrepreneurs and African-American leaders through is life’s work.

He succumbed to brain cancer at age 50.


Guests at the Film Preview Event. From left, Dr. Lestrino Baquiran, Nanding Mendez, Laura Garcia, Carina Oriel, Marilyn Abalos and Jhett Tolentino.

“During these times where people of color are given short shrift, denigrated, excluded from the discussion in the White House, I want people to know that 30 years ago, a man, of African heritage, seized the opportunities that were before him and was able to go to the very top of corporate America and he thrived,” explained Loida Nicolas Lewis at the Feb. 15 Preview Event.

A brief excerpt was screened at the Harvard Club that evening showing the making of the buyout of Beatrice.

A panel comprised of business colleagues who worked with Mr. Lewis discussed highlights of the making of the deal.

Panelists include Cleveland Christophe, retired executive of TLC Group, Dean Kehler of Trimaran Capital Partners, formerly Drexel Burnham Lambert, and Peter Offermann, former executive of Bankers Trust Company.

In closing the deal, Mr. Lewis was depicted, “He knew what he wanted. He knew what they needed. He was never afraid. Once committed, we were never afraid. It was as simple as that.”

Raymond McGuire, Global Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, Citigroup; and Robert Smith, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners also spoke about the impact of the deal and the legacy of Reginald F. Lewis.

They cited the difficulties of “getting people of color into the door” and how they “needed to double the effort.”

Mr. McGuire point out that Mr. Lewis “recognized people and invested in people.”

Recalling that Mr. Lewis would prompt support, “There’s a neighborhood we need to take care of.”

Underscoring that opportunities for people of color “has thinned out now,” they encouraged pursuit of Mr. Lewis’ legacy of perseverance and vision.


Seated: Loida Nicolas Lewis and Roger Alama. Standing, l.-r.: Mike Muse, Edwin Josue, Angie Cruz and Jerry Sibal.

There was a special shout out for daughter Christina Lewis Halpern’s All Star Code organization created to train black and brown high school boys in computer science and technology — how to code.

Mrs. Lewis acknowledged Marilyn Crawford as “Master Planner” for promoting the RFL legacy through the documentary.

She also recognized Robert Winters, the JP Morgan banker who provided the down payment fund for the McCall Pattern deal; and Jean Fugett who took over TLC Beatrice after Mr. Lewis’ death.

President and CEO Neal Shapiro and WNET hosted the Preview Event.

Award-winning broadcast journalist Nina Pineda of WABC-TV moderated the panel discussions.


Loida Nicolas Lewis with African-American community leaders at the Harvard Club.

In closing the event, Mrs. Lewis shared President Barack Obama’s sentiments of Reginald F. Lewis: “Your Father had the work ethic, the skills and the know-how. But beyond that, he had the temperament, the self-assurance, the confidence that he belonged there. Being the First of anything requires a certain mindset. Reginald Lewis had it.”


Loida Nicolas Lewis speaking at the event.

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