by Shawn Nowlin
It has been a remarkable run for Total Action for Progress (TAP) CEO Annette Lewis. After 35 years with the agency, Lewis is almost ready to call it a career. Effective March 1, she will officially retire from her post. Since 2015, Lewis has served as the organization’s president too.
Lewis began her TAP career as a summer youth counselor before later assuming a multitude of positions, ranging from director of This Valley Works to Supervisor of Head Start Family and Parent Involvement.
“My journey with TAP has been an amazing one. I started as a temporary employee 35 years ago, unsure that I would be asked to remain,” Lewis wrote on the website. “Working at TAP has been tremendously rewarding. I have enjoyed seeing hope return to the eyes of the families we assist and the successes they’ve achieved.”
Child care, according to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, normally costs between $6,000 and $22,000 annually per child. Providing free child care to impoverished families will be part of Lewis’ legacy. The Head Start Program has about 1,000 youth enrolled across 14 centers.
Additional accomplishments she is proud of include organizing the first comprehensive regional job fair, forming a statewide employment training network and honoring individuals who contribute to the success of African Americans in the community by hosting an annual Black History Month celebration.
“I have been amazed by the work of the staff that pour their best efforts into the lives of others to support them and celebrate with them during each accomplishment,” she said. “I am indebted to a board of directors who had confidence in me, provide valuable guidance, contribute to the success of the agency and continue to believe in TAP’s mission.”
When the person in charge of everything is the hardest worker, it inevitably sets a tone for everyone else to follow. Being a CEO and company president all in one is no easy task, but Lewis has made it appear that way. What makes Lewis such an exceptional leader, noted Roanoke native Tracy Peters, is her moral compass, professionalism and work ethic.
Among the honors Lewis has won over the years include the 2013 Regional Workforce Development Professional of the Year Award, the 2009 YWCA Woman of Achievement Award in Business and the 2008 TAP Black History African American Achievement Award.
Lewis will work until the end to make sure there is a seamless leadership transition. Who will succeed her has yet to be officially announced.