Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger has hired attorney and New Paltz Town Board member Esi Lewis as Ulster County’s Chief Diversity Officer, and elevated the position from the personnel department to a cabinet-level position in the county executive’s office.
“Esi brings a wealth of experience as an attorney, educator and advocate to this important position, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that she has joined our team,” said Metzger. “As a member of the executive staff, Esi will work with all departments and help to ensure that equity, diversity and inclusion are guiding values in how we operate and what we do as a County government.”
Lewis has been an active leader in the Ulster County community and was appointed to the New Paltz Police Reform and Reinvention Committee, where she worked collaboratively with fellow volunteers and the New Paltz Police Department to build a model for police reform. Lewis made history in January 2022 when she took office as the first Black member of the New Paltz Town Board. Her mother, Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis, was a pillar of the New Paltz community and pioneer of the Black Studies Department at SUNY New Paltz for more than three decades prior to her passing in 2009. Lewis’ father, David Lewis, is a lifelong educator and former member of the New Paltz Town Board.
“I am honored to be able to serve our county as Chief Diversity Officer, and to join the incredible team that County Executive Jen Metzger has put together,” said Lewis. “I have hit the ground running working to bring equity to the forefront of the county’s decision-making and helping to expand programming and services to historically under-represented populations. I am ready and eager for this new challenge.”
In 2022, Lewis founded in her mother’s memory the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Black History and Cultural Center at the Ann Oliver House in New Paltz, where she continues to serve as Executive Director.