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Linda Carter-Lewis: Sages over 70

The NAACP Des Moines Branch would like to congratulate our very own Linda Carter-Lewis on her recognition as a 2021 Sage of 70.

Linda is a member of our executive committee and past President of the Des Moines Branch.

Here is what the dsmmagazine has to say about Linda Carter-Lewis:

"As a student at the former Des Moines Technical High School, Linda Carter-Lewis dreamed of making the top 10% of her class. She achieved that goal, but wasn’t notified about a photo shoot recognizing top students in the newspaper. So she went down to the school office and demanded to be included, even as faculty members rolled their eyes.

Such situations weren’t uncommon to Carter-Lewis, who grew up in the 1950s and faced ongoing discrimination as a Black woman. But she never let such discrimination stop her.

“I’ve always been a positive person,” Carter-Lewis says. “In those days, [racism] wasn’t really something you fought. You just had to go and find another way.”

That’s what she did. After being fired from a telephone company because she was pregnant, she started a career in human resources, which eventually led to a successful 20-year tenure at Communications Data Services, now CDS Global.

Carter-Lewis, 76, has used her success to help others, becoming an advocate for the Black community and a voice for the underrepresented. “I feel so fortunate,” she says. “I just fell in love with volunteer opportunities that make a difference in people’s lives. It’s what keeps me going.”

Carter-Lewis was with her husband, Larry Carter, for more than 30 years before his death in 2000. She was married to the Rev. Irwin Lewis from 2004 until his death in 2010. She has three children.

Among Her Achievements

  • Served more than 3,000 employees as human resources employee relations manager and trainer at CDS Global.

  • Was president of the Des Moines NAACP from 2002 to 2010 and active for more than 30 years on the executive committee.

  • Has served on the Des Moines Civil Service Commission since 2008.

  • Earned multiple recognitions, including as a Business Record Woman of Influence, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Alpha Award of Merit, and Iowa Juneteenth Citizen of the Year.

  • Has been involved with a number of local boards and organizations over the years, including Mercy College of Health Sciences, United Way of Central Iowa, and the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.

Her Advice

  • Be positive and surround yourself with positive people.

  • Listen to others. If you don’t, “you might miss the opportunity of your life.”

  • Volunteer. “Be involved in as many ways as you can.”

  • Never forget those who helped you. “Be thankful and always willing to mentor others.”

Community Voices

“Ms. Carter-Lewis … always leads with a smile and a positive message of kindness, respect, and perseverance.” Angela Franklin, president of Des Moines University

“Linda is a community leader who doesn’t just lend her voice; she leads with action.” Kristi Knous, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

“In addition to her civic and community service, Linda is a mentor, life coach, supporter, and someone who inspires you to be the best you can be.” Mary Chapman, vice president emeritus of Des Moines Area Community College "



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