L. Toni Lewis, MD

Chair, SEIU Healthcare

PHOTO: L. Toni Lewis, MD, Chair of SEIU Healthcare

HOUSE CALLS: A blog by Dr. Lewis on Health Reform

Dr. Luella Toni Lewis chairs SEIU Healthcare, the arm of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that represents 1 million nurses, doctors and healthcare workers throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Dr. Lewis is devoted to health justice and the highest quality of care for all communities, especially those that face the most injustice and inequity.

Dr. Lewis' journey began in a small rural community in the Midwest. She credits her family, especially her mother and grandmother, both public school teachers and leaders in their unions, with providing a solid foundation for her passion as an advocate for working people. From a very early age, she was taught by her family and community leaders that public service was the highest form of leadership and that all humankind deserves justice, dignity and respect.

Dr. Lewis joined SEIU in 2004 as a family medicine resident and a member of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) of SEIU Healthcare. She trained at St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in the New York City borough of Queens at a time when the hospital was experiencing critical cuts to services and imminent closure. Dr. Lewis emerged from this crisis as an experienced and tested public health advocate and was elected to serve as the national president of CIR from 2007-2010.

As the national healthcare reform movement intensified in 2008, Dr. Lewis worked to raise the voices of healthcare providers and the communities they serve to help shape the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In 2010, she was appointed chair of SEIU Healthcare by SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry.

In addition to this role, Dr. Lewis also serves on the boards of Families USA, the CIR Policy and Education Initiative, the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York (affiliated with Citizen Action New York) and USAction. She is the recipient of many awards for her dedicated service to labor, civil rights, women's rights and social justice, including the National Association for the Advancement of Color (NAACP), New York Branch, Phenomenal Woman Award; the Physicians' Forum, Dr. Paul Cornely Award; the USAction Progressive Leadership Award; and the Black Women's Roundtable Sistars Healthcare and Social Justice Champion Award.

Dr. Lewis earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Doctor of Medicine from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She specializes in family and geriatric medicine and resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.

MEDIA: To arrange an interview with Dr. Lewis, please contact the Media Department at 202-730-7162 or via e-mail at Media[at]seiu.org.

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