||© Nathan Mandell
Wendy Lewis '95
to bat for Kellogg
Lewis rarely misses a chance to sing the Kellogg School's
it is as a speaker at the Black Management Association's annual
conference or as a panelist discussing the economics of sports,
Lewis is there, sharing her perspectives as an enthusiastic
it's all part of giving back to an institution she feels changed
might sound like a commercial, but I'm not trying to sell
anything," Lewis says. "My time at Kellogg was one of the
most extraordinary times in my life. I'm very proud of being
selected to go there, to have graduated from there, and to
have the experiences and relationships I gained there."
up the merits of the school, particularly to prospective students
deciding between Kellogg and another MBA program, is one way
for Lewis to say thanks.
think it's fair to get extremely blessed and not do something
about it," Lewis says.
as if Lewis doesn't have enough to keep her busy. She is the
vice president of strategic planning for recruitment and diversity
for Major League Baseball. Under Lewis, the organization has
brought more than $250 million in baseball contracts to certified
minority and female-owned businesses. These include marketing
and public relations firms, legal services, maintenance, transportation
and catering companies, and others.
has received numerous honors for her achievements, including
the Legends Award from the Black Women in Sports Foundation,
the Pioneer Award from the National Association of Black Journalists,
and the Sports Executive of the Year award from Rainbow/Push.
In 2003, The Network Journal named her one of the 25
most influential black women in business.
Kellogg bestowed its own honor on Lewis: the Schaffner Award,
in recognition of her outstanding professional achievements
and service to the school.
in professional sports was not one Lewis had imagined while
growing up in a close-knit family in Milwaukee. A psychology
major at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, Lewis was
the personnel coordinator for Lutheran Child and Family Services
before joining the Chicago Tribune as an employment
specialist in 1981. In 1987, she moved to the Tribune-owned
Chicago Cubs to be the ball club's manager of human resources.
Two years later, she became the Cubs' director of human resources.
investigating educational opportunities for Cubs executives,
Lewis learned about the Kellogg Executive Master's Program.
When the senior manager who was to be the organization's first
Kellogg enrollee opted out, Lewis jumped to fill the position.
"I knew an advanced education from Kellogg would be an invaluable
professional asset," Lewis says.
Kellogg while working full-time for the Cubs and raising three
daughters as a single parent was daunting. "To tell you the
truth, I didn't think I was going to make it," Lewis recalls.
The assistance of her daughters — who became "extremely
self-sufficient" and even helped Lewis bone up on calculus
— proved critical to her success.
before she graduated, she moved up to Major League Baseball's
New York headquarters and increasingly high-profile human
Lewis considers it an honor to speak to groups on behalf of
Kellogg. "One of the school's attractions is its richness
and diversity," she says, adding that she sees herself as
an embodiment of those qualities. "I have dreadlocks; I'm
not conventional. If someone is talking about women in business,
mine is not the image they are going to come up with."
something the Kellogg School is hoping to change.
a recruitment standpoint, people need to know Kellogg is looking
at all backgrounds and all institutions," Lewis says. "I want
to help manage the brand."
does, sharing her enthusiasm for Kellogg at workshops, panels
and events in New York, Chicago and at ball clubs around the
want something done, ask a busy person. That's absolutely
the case with Wendy," says Jim Corboy, director of Kellogg
alumni relations. Indeed, Corboy often asks Lewis to share
her experience and insights at Kellogg events. Lewis, he says,
recalls one week when he saw her at three different Kellogg-sponsored
events in three different cities.
position at Major League Baseball, she could easily go in
a thousand different directions," Corboy says. "But this is
a person who makes it a priority to put Kellogg on her schedule."
there's a lot of room in that schedule for additional activities.
After one particularly busy period, Lewis jokingly implored
Kellogg administrators to put her on hiatus. "You've got to
give me a break," she recalls saying. "'I'm swamped.'"
not going to give you a break,'" was the half-serious reply.
"'You've been coming to everything we sign you up for!'"
to Peter Tan '83
to Why alumni give back