Regions20 Women's Tribune

Featured Speakers

Thérèse Olenga Kalonda

Minister of Education, Environment, Communication and Gender

Democratic Republic of Congo

Since 2008 she performs the functions of Minister of Education, Environment, Communication and Gender, Spokesman within the Provincial Government of the City of Kinshasa.
Previously, she had the opportunity to acquire a broad professional experience in the public and private sectors, being Head of Department of Tourism Promotion / National Tourist Office (ONT); Deputy Minister of Women and Family in charge of projects and Cooperation with International Organizations; Advisor to the Prime Minister; Provincial Minister in charge of Education, Information, Women’s Affairs and Family and spokesman of the Provincial Government in Kinshasa.
She is a founding member and activist in several development associations and defense of human rights (especially the rights of women and children), including: Coordination for the Development of Kasai Oriental (CODEKOR); Coordination for the Development of Kinshasa (Codek); Women’s Active Force (FFA); Network of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians (NAWMP / DRC); Permanent Dialogue Framework of the Congolese Women (CAFCO).
She also participated in numerous conferences and seminars with the Commission sessions for the Status of Women of the United Nations in New York; the World Forum of Francophone Women; Regional Conference on Women, Peace; Security and Development in the Great Lakes Region; 4th Meeting of Women for a Better World; Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen.
Thérèse Olenga Kalonda is a recipient of the Gold Medal of Civic Merit for good services and bravery rendered to the nation, Commander of the Order of Merit of the French Republic, Ambassador for Peace.

Reta Jo Lewis

Ambassador for Women


Ms. Lewis is a Senior Resident Fellow at GMF, where she focuses on U.S. Leadership and Transatlantic Subnational Diplomacy initiatives. Ms. Lewis also specializes in leadership development curriculum, outreach, convening, and thought pieces on strategies to strengthen the next generation of transatlantic leaders.
She has been a global business affairs adviser since leaving government in April 2013, and specializes in working with U.S. governors, mayors, legislators as well as provincial leaders across the Atlantic.
She most recently served in the Obama Administration as the State Department’s first-ever Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, where she led the office charged with building strategic peer-to-peer relationships between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. state and local officials, and their foreign counterparts. In her post, she served as the State Department’s lead interlocutor in negotiating and executing the first historic agreements to solidify subnational cooperation and engagement efforts with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries and with targeted countries in the European Union.

She was the principal architect that led the global engagement of U.S. state and local government leaders’ integration into and strategy regarding sustainability and climate change to RIO+20, COP-16, COP-17 and COP-18.
In 2013, she was awarded the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award by Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Prior to the State Department, Lewis served in senior positions in the public and private sectors, including political appointments in the Clinton Administration, and served as the Director for Business Outreach for the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.
She served as the Vice President and Counselor to the President and CEO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation and director of the Chamber’s effort focused on small business and outreach to women and minority-owned businesses.
Ms. Lewis was the Special Assistant to the President for Political Affairs in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1995 and the Director of the Northeast and Southern Regions. She was Of Counsel at Edward Widman Palmer LLP prior to joining the Obama Administration and a 2014 Mayoral candidate in Washington, D.C.
Lewis holds a BA in political science from University of Georgia, a MSAJ from American University, and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law. Lewis is a member of the D.C. and the State of Georgia Bars.

view full roster of speakers >>