About LEWAC CEO/Founder Catherine J. Lewis

Catherine Lewis-SmithCatherine J. Lewis began her career in the health care industry in 1964 as a Claims Representative for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York. Twenty years later she was managing a staff of 37 in a New York State effort to preserve the Medicare Trust Fund.

In 1991, Ms. Lewis made a life-altering decision. Having lost several family members to the effects of diabetes, she resolved to devote the rest of her life to promoting health and wellness among traditionally underserved and uninformed populations. It was then that she founded LEWAC Associates of Western New York, Inc., with a mission to increase access to culturally sensitive healthcare, health education and human services for the African-American and Hispanic communities of Western New York.

Under Ms. Lewis' leadership, LEWAC has made health education accessible through a variety of program initiatives. Highlights include a 3-year program funded by a grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation, under which LEWAC operated culture-specific wellness programs at 10 community-based sites on Buffalo’s East Side, offering exercise training, nutrition education and counseling, and information on the management of diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Through grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and New York State Department of Health, LEWAC has implemented a series of breast cancer awareness workshops in a number of local churches in Erie and Niagara counties through year ending 2013. LEWAC’s programs are offered primarily in neighborhood sites and are customized to fit the needs of each community being served.

In March of 2003, Ms. Lewis established a new primary care practice serving an urban diverse community of 7,000+ patients with $4,788 (3-year average) visits per year and annual revenue of $500,000; hired and trained up to 10 bilingual staff; directed practice operations; completed ongoing federal and state insurance credentialing for Medicaid and Medicare; continually maximized reimbursement with third-party payers; and maintained credentialing and privileges with affiliated hospital and HMO organizations for on-site physician(s).     

Catherine J. Lewis is a highly dedicated individual who devotes much of her personal time to community service. In 1993 she served as Manager of Delegation Services for the World University Games in Buffalo. For several years she tutored 3rd and 4th graders at Buffalo Public School 74. She has served as President of the Erie County Chapter of the Links and as Chair of the First Shiloh Baptist Church Health Ministry Committee. She is a member of the Leadership Buffalo Class of 2002 and has sat on the Boards of Buffalo Prep, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Mid-Erie Counseling and Treatment Services. Currently she is President of the Board of Directors of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Western New York Affiliate. Ms. Lewis has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Sojourner Truth Award for Outstanding Community Service; the 2002 YWCA Executive Leadership Award; the 2001 American Lung Association Award for Outstanding Service in the Conquest of Lung Disease and Promotion of Health; and the 2000 Business First Health Hero Award.

She has been featured in several publications, including Buffalo News article "Women Behind The Scenes" in May, 2006; two After 50 (a Western New York newspaper) news articles, "Catherine Lewis Making a Difference" in February, 2006 and "LEWAC Fills a Vital Need in Underserved Communities" in October, 2005; Amherst Bee article "Lewis Educates Inner City on Health" in June, 2004; and Buffalo News article "From Family Illness, A Force for Health" in September, 2002.

Ms. Lewis graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, with course studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Syracuse University.