‘She makes G. Gordon Liddy look like a wimp’

By John Pope

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

June 3, 2018

The Times-Picayune is marking the tricentennial of New Orleans with its ongoing 300 for 300 project, running through 2018 and highlighting 300 people who have made New Orleans New Orleans, featuring original artwork commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune with Where Y’Art gallery. Today: volunteer Diana Lewis.

The icon: Diana Lewis.

The legacy: Born to parents who were civic volunteers, Diana Lewis started volunteering as a Junior League member. From there, she just kept on going, because she wanted to be around for her three children and because she relished the luxury of being able to move easily from one organization to another after a few years. A winner of The Times-Picayune Loving Cup for 1998, her causes have included education, housing, the Girl Scouts, philanthropy and Kingsley House. She summed up her philosophy in an interview: “We can and should all make a difference in someone’s life.” In honor of her decades of service, the Committee for a Better New Orleans established the Diana Lewis Citizen Participation Award.

The artist: Maddie Stratton.

The quote: “She’s very focused. Involved in as many things as she is, it’s mind-boggling that she’s able to do as much as she does.” — Jim Brandt, former president/CEO of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and the Bureau of Governmental Research


  • She earned a degree in mathematics at Goucher College in Maryland.
  • She has three children – Michael, Tommy and Allison. Michael Lewis, a Vanity Fair contributor, has written such best-sellers as “Liar’s Poker,” “The Big Short” and “Moneyball.”
  • She’s a proud mom, one who has been known to hang newspaper clippings about her adult children’s accomplishments on her refrigerator, Michael Lewis once divulged.
  • She was the first woman to lead the boards of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.
  • She also has chaired the boards of the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Metropolitan Area Committee and the Southeast Louisiana Girl Scout Council.
  • Her father, Malcolm Logan Monroe, was the longtime managing partner of Monroe and Lemann law firm, which his father had helped found. The firm, which specialized in corporate, banking and utilities law, is defunct.
  • Michael Lewis’ explanation for his mother’s success? Her will. Referring to a tough-talking Watergate conspirator who once held his hand over an open flame, Lewis said of his mother, “She makes G. Gordon Liddy look like a wimp.”
  • In addition to being a board chairwoman, Diana Lewis has done hands-on work, including painting houses for the Preservation Resource Center, working to help public-housing residents improve their lives, and criss-crossing the New Orleans area to collect donations for Symphony Book Fair.

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