Ann Lewis shares stories of Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Posted at 4:29 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 16:29:45-05

Ann Lewis has had an impressive career.

She went to Radcliff college, a women's college within Harvard, she was the Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for Bill Clinton. Most recently, from 2000 to 2008, she was a senior advisor for Hillary Clinton.

Even with her impressive resume, some of her most memorable times were with someone else.

"I met Barbara Mikulski at the first convention of the national women's political caucus," Lewis said.

That was in Texas in the early 1970's. Mikulski was a City Council woman in Baltimore.

"In those early days Barbara cared about city politics, I was working for the Mayor of Boston, and she had a sense of humor. Both were wonderfully appreciated," Lewis said.

Lewis and Mikulski reunited in 1974 when Lewis received a call from Mikulski. The Maryland politician needed a campaign manager for her first run for the U.S. Senate. Things didn't go exactly as the two planned.

"First and only time she ever lost," Lewis said.

But that loss did not adversely effect their relationship. Mikulski went on to replace Paul Sarbanes as a congresswoman when Sarbanes went to the Senate.

Ann had a hand in the success of Senator Mikulski, she still has a speech Lewis wrote for Mikulski in the 1980's. She said the senator was not shy about making editorial revisions.

Lewis had a front row seat, observing Mikulski's interactions with the public.

"Barbara listens and she talks with people. So she hears what people have to say whether she's meeting with the watermen on the Eastern Shore or she's meeting with the Cyber security guy," Lewis said. "She's the one who came into us and said Cyber Security is going to be the next economic frontier and we are going to be a part of it and the fact that it's in NASA and it's here in Maryland, that gave us something to be proud of and to look to."

That vision of cyber security came true. Sen. Mikulski was on hand for the ground breaking of a new Center for Cyber Security Studies at the Naval Academy.

"We know that weapons have changed and the threat has changed," she told the crowd. "The Naval Academy curriculum has to change. So now we know we have to fight not only on air and on water but, we got to fight in cyber space."

It wasn't just cyber space that drew her interest, it was also outer space. Lewis said Sen. Mikulski spearheaded one of the projects she is most proud of.

"We're talking about the guys who work on the Hubble, the space telescope. She was so proud of what she was able to do with the Hubble, every bit as much as she is about her neighborhood in Baltimore," Lewis said.

Senator Mikulski also fought for women in her Baltimore neighborhood and all across America. She had a big hand in the Women's Health Initiative, that initiative pushed for better research and healthcare for  women.

"The fact that women were not included in any of these studies. The result was that NIH set up an office of women's health," Lewis said.

That new push, Lewis said, had a huge impact on women.

"Thousands of women a year live longer, they have saved thousands of lives because of that women's health study and the changes it brought to medical practice. So Barbara thinks how she made a difference, that's one big one," Lewis said.

Senator Barbara Mikulski has made a lot of "big ones" but, at 4-feet 11-inches tall, she needs help being heard.

Lewis laments on the stepping stool Sen. Milkuski carried around for her speeches.

"If you think about it, if you spend a lot of your day speaking you really need to be where people can see you and you need to be able to reach the microphone. So the easiest way to do that is to  have this stool so people don't have to adjust the mic," Lewis said.

Lewis thinks Mikulski may have gotten this idea of a "stool" from other strong women from the early 1900's. That  small stature of Barbara Mikulski has had a large impact on Ann, from the early 1970's until now.

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