John L. Lewis
Regional Development Institute
Phone: (815) 753-0936
John L. Lewis is a veteran Northern Illinois University professional who has championed community engagement throughout his career. As Associate Vice President for NIU Outreach, Lewis leads a team of professionals in building partnerships that generate educational programs and delivery systems, support services, research, and entrepreneurial solutions. NIU Outreach was created in November 2002 with a mission to engage communities across northern Illinois in anticipating needs and leveraging university and regional resources to meet them. He oversees more than 100 staff members in the divisionís programs, services, and outreach centers.
University and community engagement have been integral to Johnís career for more than 25 years. He trained educators to teach economics from 1974 to 1987, first as Director of the Center for Economic Education at Ball State University and then as Executive Director of the Illinois Council for Economic Education (now an NIU Outreach unit). John then spent three years engaging corporate contacts as NIUís Director of Corporate Relations. In 1991, he became a Senior Research Associate at NIUís Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) where he delivered numerous community and economic development projects, health care research, and data mapping services to community stakeholders. He served as Associate Director of CGS from 1993 until his current appointment.
John takes pride in an extensive history of successful economic development activity. Working with the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, he led the CGS team in building Illinoisí five-year development strategy. Additionally, he created a baseline economic development study with strategies for economic growth in northwest Illinois, frequently participated in Rockford community planning, and helped to attract new industry to Rockford. He also guided the Village of Rolling Meadows though an industry-targeting strategy to increase its economic base. A futurist, he developed white papers on telecommunications infrastructure and nanotechnology as economic development engines for Illinois.
John is also an adjunct professor of economics, currently teaching the economics of health care within NIUís College of Health and Human Sciences.
An outstanding model for NIU Outreachís commitment to public service, John is immediate past President of the Illinois Development Council. He also serves as chair of both the Ben Gordon Center and of the Sycamore Planning Commission. Other Board membership positions include the Rockford Local Development Corporation and the Rock River Entrepreneurship Center. He previously served on the boards of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, the Kishwaukee Health System, and Valley West Community Hospital.
John received his bachelorís degree from Monmouth College, his masterís degree from Western Michigan University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. John and wife Charnelle have three children.