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Three Big Questions: Mountain States Spotlight with ADL Regional Board Member Lloyd Lewis

  • February 7, 2022

Lloyd Lewis is President and CEO of Arc Thrift Stores, which generates funding to support 15 Arc Colorado Chapters that advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Lloyd has been a member of the ADL Mountain States Regional Board since 2015. Read about what motivates his advocacy, the leaders he admires, and his advice for others looking to make a difference.


ADL: What motivated you to join the ADL Mountain States Regional Board, and why do you support ADL?

Lloyd Lewis: I have, since an early age, been very concerned about discrimination in any form. In elementary school, an African American classmate was taunted on the playground, and I would come to his defense. It just really bothered me. I am deeply troubled by discrimination of any type, including against African Americans, the Latino community and the Jewish community. More recently, I have become concerned about discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities, which I didn’t know about until my son, Kennedy, who has Down syndrome, was born in 2003.

As President and CEO of Arc Thrift Stores, it is important to me that we have very strong antidiscrimination policies in our company. We welcome everyone – including refugees and recent immigrants – to work for us. A multiplicity of languages are spoken in our stores. Diversity makes the company – and the country – stronger. I view discrimination as a criticism of diversity, and I don’t think that’s what America stands for.

I support ADL because rather than having a narrow focus, it is tackling discrimination in any and all forms. ADL stands on the right side of history and on the right side of the most pressing issues we face today. Scott Levin, ADL’s Regional Director, speaks out on the regional level. Scott is an amazing leader and really tackles problems as they arise in a pretty fearless way, and I appreciate that Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s National Director and CEO, is working on these issues on a broader national level. ADL is one of my favorite organizations, hands down.


ADL: Who are some of the people that have served as role models for you, both in the area of social justice and generally?

Lloyd Lewis: When I look at leaders through history, I think of FDR, Winston Churchill, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, among others.

The leadership of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to rid the world – at least at the time – of fascism is something that I think our country should look at again and again as an example of courage and standing up for the right issues. FDR tackled the two great crises of leading the country through the Great Depression and working with Churchill to ultimately defeat the most vicious and vile human in the history of the world – despite the fact that America was isolationist and extremely reluctant to enter another World War. They are both heroes for standing up to Germany.

I’m similarly inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who grew up in a pretty prominent family and had a solid education before getting recruited into the Montgomery bus boycott. He continued to lead and advocate for change despite all the threats he received and the bombings that were occurring in a deeply divided country. He took risks to help create a better society for African Americans and for all Americans.

I’ve been reading about Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) in the book The Last Campaign by Thurston Clarke. RFK grew into the person he became: he was initially on Joseph McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities and was concerned about Dr. King interfering with the priorities of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. Later, though, he grew into a great civil rights champion who talked about the indecency of poverty and discrimination. He emphasized the need for people to make a decent living and defended Cesar Chavez and his efforts on behalf of agricultural workers. RFK also went into Mississippi and met with people who were living in just terrible conditions, despite being this guy from a wealthy family with a storied career and a brother who was president. He went on the campaign trail understanding that he was at risk of being assassinated like his brother and, sadly, that occurred.


ADL: What is your advice for people who are committed to positive change?

Lloyd Lewis: First of all, get involved with ADL and other wonderful civil rights organizations. Get involved with Arcs of Colorado.  (See below for more information about this organization.) Get involved with the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition. Get involved with NAACP. Get involved with organizations that are standing up for people who are being discriminated against or mistreated. This is particularly important in this time; our democracy is at risk, voting rights are at risk, and antisemitism, anti-immigrant philosophy, and anti-Muslim bigotry are accelerating. We need people to speak out and take a stand to support civil rights and pro-democracy organizations, as well as voting rights efforts.

It’s just hard to believe that’s where we are in 2022. January 6 was unbelievable. There have been recent antisemitic flyers with COVID conspiracy language distributed in Denver. Nazis – really?!? – Nazis? We fought a world war against Nazis, for God’s sake. Charlottesville was extremely troubling. Torches?! “Jews will not replace us?” In America? Unbelievable.

I’m concerned about the upcoming elections in 2022 and 2024. In all the divisiveness we should be striving for civility, bipartisanship, and to widen the tent – not narrow the tent. We should broaden what we appreciate in the country, not narrow it. We just need to continue speaking out against discrimination.


Learn more about Arc Thrift Stores – including the company’s mission and vision – here.  

Watch “Visible: The Story of Arc” here.