Jackie Ennis Lewis, Arts ’60
Education and politics have been important parts of Jackie Lewis’ life for years.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Marquette in 1960 and pursued a career in teaching, spending 22 years as a teacher in New Brunswick, N.J., and Iron Mountain, Mich. Jackie then turned her attention to politics. She was the Dickinson County (Mich.) chair for the Michigan Republican Party; co-chair of the 1980 campaign in Michigan for the future U.S. president, George H.W. Bush, the only state he won; candidate for the Michigan State Board of Education; and state vice-chair of the Michigan Republican Party. She also ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1984 and 1986.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Jackie to the President’s Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education, and her peers elected her executive director of the council in 1985.
Jackie wasn’t finished with supporting educational initiatives even then. She and her husband, Robert, teamed up with Rev. Tim O’Brien to help develop what became Marquette University’s Les Aspin Center for Government, a Congressional internship program and academic center established blocks from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
“Father O’Brien is such a visionary, and we tuned into his vision right away of bringing students here to learn about public policy and public service in the city where so much of it happens,” Jackie says.
She and Robert helped the university identify a building for the academic center and, just last year, they donated a building for student housing. So far, the center has welcomed more than 1,600 students to Washington to take part in the internship program.
“We knew where the university could find properties that would place students at the center of everything going on in the Capitol, and we wanted Marquette to have the very best,” Jackie says.
Jackie’s efforts have earned several honors. She received Michigan’s Keep America Beautiful Award in 1976 and the Service to Marquette Award in 1998. In 2007, she received the Founder’s Award for ongoing support of the Aspin Center, and she was named a member of the Warren E. Burger Society by the National Center for State Courts.
Jackie is a member of several organizations, including the Les Aspin Center National Board of Visitors, Executive Women in Government, National Women’s Party, Autism Society of America and Washington Club, among others.
She and Robert have 10 children and 17 grandchildren.