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African American woman forged her path in public broadcasting

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Carolyn Bailey Lewis is a woman who has been determined to always push herself and to set new standards throughout her career. She has been a pioneer in her field, but it hasn’t been easy.

While forging her path, as a black woman, Carolyn has had to fight battles against racism, bigotry, and prejudice as well as sexism.

Coming from the small town of Bluefield, West Virginia where she attended segregated schools and lived in a segregated neighborhood, Carolyn became the only black woman in her class of journalism students at West Virginia University.

Being able to adapt to a “white world” and function as the only person of color took great strength, will, and dexterity.

In 1971, Carolyn became the first black woman to graduate from the Perley I Reed School of Journalism, now the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University.

She continued her trailblazing in 1993 when she became the first African American woman named to manage a full-service public television station in the continental United States at WNPB-TV in Morgantown.

In 1997, she became the Director and General Manager of WOUB Public Media at Ohio University, where she stayed until her retirement.

That same year she also became an ordained minister.

During her 14 years at WOUB, Carolyn rose nationally in the ranks of public broadcasting. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), a member of the Board of Directors of the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) and Chair of the PBS Advertising and Promotion Advisory Committee.

But she wasn’t finished. Against all odds and while confined to a wheelchair, she received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communications Studies – 36 years after her undergraduate degree from WVU.

Most recently, she received the 2020 Medal of Merit for Professional Achievement from Ohio University.

Currently, in her retirement Carolyn has authored a book, is the co-founder and chairman of the Dr. Carolyn Foster Bailey Lewis Family Foundation and is the co-founder and CEO of LifeDay Greeting Cards, Inc.

Her LifeDay cards celebrate surviving a major life-altering event or monumental moment in life.