About James W. Lewis
James W. Lewis is President of the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), established in 2002 along with friend and co-founder, Claes Nobel, senior member of the Nobel family that established the Nobel Prizes.
NSHSS represents over 750,000 diverse high school scholars from 160 countries and is recognized as the world’s largest honor society for high school students. Jim serves as a mentor for high school freshmen through seniors, and incoming students as they undergo the challenging transition from secondary school to university life. NSHSS is designed to recognize diverse high school students and encourage them to be a positive influence through service, leadership and volunteer programs.
Jim‘s vision of diversity and inclusion and international education is reflected in NSHSS with world-class educational and leadership programs from around the globe. His vision to reach out to minority students and help open doors, inspired him to establish the NSHSS Foundation, which focuses primarily on STEM program scholarships targeting underrepresented minorities that otherwise would not have the opportunity to take that leap forward to continue their education.
During the era marked with unprecedented racial segregation and discrimination, Jim embraced the idea of diversity and early on stood against the grain by setting the framework after which many organizations now pattern themselves. Jim personally witnessed disparity and significant challenges facing minority students, and immediately responded by creating the critical components needed to help resolve the inequality among youth.
In 1977, and during his undergraduate years at Georgia State University, Jim founded and built the world's largest collegiate multi-ethnic international honor society, Golden Key National Honour Society. Golden Key reflected his commitment to inclusion and diversity with a global perspective. Of the initial chapters established, several were at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU's).
Under his 24-year tenure, Golden Key grew to over 300 chapters worldwide with Jim personally developing chapters for diverse students in areas around the globe including South Africa, Australia, Malaysia and others. Jim built Golden Key to recognize outstanding diverse students and encourage them to focus on service, leadership, volunteerism, and equal opportunity.
Jim was the youngest recipient of the American Eagle Award from the Invest In America National Council presented in the U.S. Senate. This award was bestowed upon recipients who exemplified outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to the American free enterprise system. Other recipients include President Ronald Reagan, Malcolm Forbes and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Berger.
As a visionary, pioneer and student mentor, Jim has enjoyed the opportunities to connect to and serve his community in various capacities. Among them was serving on the Inter-Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse, sponsor of Alcohol Awareness Weeks on college campuses throughout the United States. Jim served as a strategist for the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He also served on the board of Friends' Health Connection, an advocacy organization connecting people with similar health conditions with each other and to vital resources.
Jim was awarded GSAE's Allen R. Johnson Leadership Award in 1998 as a top leader for association management throughout the state of Georgia that exhibits the ability to influence others by modeling positive behavior, gaining cooperation from others and fostering creativity in innovative thinking. Jim was a two-term board member of the Georgia Society of Association Executives (GSAE), a professional association of trade organizations and associations, as well on the GSAE Foundation Board.
A pioneer in AIDS awareness and education, Jim was committed early to local, regional and national efforts for AIDS education, research and housing. He, along with the CEOs of New York Life and MetLife, and Billie Jean King, served on the national board of the National AIDS Fund, the largest private funder of AIDS education at the time. Jim created awareness and encouraged others to take up the fight against AIDS by bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt directly to his college constituency, and encouraged them to take the Quilt to their campuses and communities. Jim was honored, among other prominent leaders, to be one of the first reader of names in for the Quilt on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Shoichiro Toyoda, former chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, identified Jim as a thought leader of the 21st century on promoting new ways to address major social and economic challenges from an educational perspective. Jim was called on to serve as a discussant at an International Symposium Innovations through Education and Social Entrepreneurship among other notables like the Head of Trade and Technology Office Innovation Norway, Jacobs Center and the Mayor of Niigata, Japan. G8 countries in government, universities and business.
Selected as an Olympic Torch Bearer in 2002, Jim carried the Olympic flame through the Atlanta neighborhoods surrounding the Martin Luther King Memorial. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for “be a STAR” (Show Tolerance and Respect), an anti-bullying campaign created by The Creative Coalition. The Creative Coalition educates and mobilizes leaders in the arts and entertainment industry with organizations like NSHSS on issues of social importance.
In 2012, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta bestowed the city's top honor on Jim, The Phoenix Award, in appreciation for his outstanding contributions to the City of Atlanta and its citizens. "Atlanta is truly blessed to say James W. Lewis is one of her own. He gives so much to students and works hard along side of them to set an example for others to give selflessly," stated Mayor Reed.
Throughout his life, Jim set a path and marked a footprint of a legacy in every organization to which he lends his expertise in organization, activism, and scholarly support. However true to his nature, when asked what his greatest accomplishment would be, “to raise my three children so that they may successfully pursue their passions.“
At Georgia State University (GSU), Jim earned his B.A. degree followed by a Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA). Jim’s keen insight into the psyche of international education, policy and business played a critical role in the revamping of the curriculum for their MPA program.
While dedicating himself full-time as the CEO of Golden Key, Jim made time to teach at GSU's Andrew Young School of Public Policy at the graduate level for many years, serving on the board of the Alumni Association, and finally as a commencement speaker for GSU in the year 2000
Jim is an avid outdoor sportsman who enjoys hunting, fishing, snow-skiing and is a certified scuba diver. He also currently plays for the United States Tennis Association and the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA) when he and his team won the city championship at A and AA levels.
The mark of a true visionary is not in the projects he creates; it is in the benefits that others reap moving mankind forward. James W. Lewis has set the bar in empowering youth in the world of scholarship, academics, diversity, inclusion, international education, and volunteerism with his programs, leadership and genuine care for humanity.
When Claes Nobel reflects on his personal friend, Jim Lewis, he is reminded of a famous quote by Emerson: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”