State government official James B. Lewis was born on November 30, 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, to Dorris Ward and William Reagor. Lewis graduated in 1966 from Gallup High School in Gallup, New Mexico and attended Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where he earned his B.S. degree in education. After serving as a military policeman, and as an administrator at the University of Albuquerque, he attended the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, where he earned his M.A. degree in public administration in 1977. Lewis went on to earn his A.S. degree in business administration from the National College of Business in 1980.
Lewis worked as a white collar crime investigator in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office before being elected Bernalillo County Treasurer in 1982. He was then appointed as State Treasurer of New Mexico in 1985 after the incumbent Treasurer resigned. Lewis then won the election for the state treasurer position in 1986. In 1991, Lewis was appointed Chief of Staff for Governor Bruce King. Lewis held state level administrative positions in the New Mexico State Land Office and the New Mexico State Corporation Commission, before becoming City Administrator for Rio Rancho, New Mexico in 1996. Lewis became Assistant Secretary of Energy in 1999 for the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Albuquerque in 2001, but was offered the position of chief operating officer for the City. Lewis would go on to serve as the chief administrative officer for Albuquerque in 2004, before winning re-election as New Mexico State Treasurer. Lewis instituted various business practices while in office, serving two consecutive terms.
Lewis received numerous awards for his public service at the city, county, state, and federal levels. He was inducted into the New Mexico African American Hall of Fame, the NAACP Albuquerque Chapter Hall of Fame, and received the Legion of Honor Award from the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque in 2005. He was named one of New Mexico’s 100 Influential Power Brokers in 2008, and received the Jesse M. Unruh Award in 2011, the highest honor awarded by the National Association of State Treasurers. Lewis was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and served as president of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers, as well as the National Association of State Treasurers.
Lewis is a widower, and has four children.
James B. Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2015.