Public Citizen News / March-April 2022
By Agnes Cazemiro
This article appeared in the March/April 2022 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.
Born with an adventurous spirit, a gift for storytelling and drive to leave the world a little better than she found it, Tracey Lewis revels in connecting with people.
Native to the industrial midwest and its smoky steel mills, Lewis saw early on the connections between environmental harms and health impacts working at her father’s medical practice. After graduating from Spelman College, Lewis received her JD with a focus on international law at Vermont Law School.
At PC as one of three policy counsels in the burgeoning Climate Group, Lewis advocates for financial regulators to direct companies, banks, money managers, and other private actors to better identify and address the risks related to the climate crisis.
Climate finance is not just a job for her, it’s a passion. Even in her spare time, Lewis is focused on climate finance policy in environmental justice communities. Last fall she was named to the second cohort of fellows at the ground-breaking progressive think tank, Climate and Community Project, based at the University of Pennsylvania, which incubated the Green New Deal.
How did you become a policy counsel at Public Citizen?
Obama had just been elected president the fall before I graduated from law school, so there was a real excitement in the air about the progressive policies his administration could implement. I landed in Democratic political organizing, transitioning into government as policy director for a Maryland State delegate after that.
Later, while working at a climate activist organization, an opportunity arose to work with my current colleagues, David Arkush and Yevgeny Shrago on legislative research & drafting for the Fossil Free Finance bill.
Working on climate finance and Federal Reserve climate policy sparked something in me. I had a chance to pull all the strands of my background together, so what I’m doing now is a natural extension of that.
What does your typical work day look like?
My typical day is anything but! Our team is always on the move–strategizing, drafting or executing our plans. We also work with the media and folks on Capitol Hill all the time. And of course we work closely with partner orgs like AFR, ACRE, Sierra Club and so many others to move federal policy in a more progressive direction– working with BIPOC-led orgs and grassroots financial orgs to be a force multiplier for our collective work. So, you do have to be out there on the hustle.
What is your favorite part about working at Public Citizen?
My favorite part of working here is strategizing with my Climate teammates or our coalition partners on whatever is at the forefront in that moment. The intellectual challenge of working here at Public Citizen is fantastic! I love working with so many whip-smart folks. But most importantly, what sparks joy for me and what I take pride in is our sense of collective purpose. Everyone here, across all the teams, has the same goal– to protect and extend the rights of all people–from Democracy Is for People to Access to Medicines to Congress Watch or Medicaid for All – these are huge issues that if we fought individually would be insurmountable. But here, working together, we harness our skills for the greater good and we achieve those impossible goals. That is what makes me feel proud to be here at PC.
What is one thing that our readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a low-key renaissance woman! I’m an author, I love acting, singing (show tunes!) and musical theatre, and in my heart and soul I am an amazing salsa dancer– but only there for right now!