Jovonia Lewis

Jovonia Lewis is a mother, wife, elected school board member, nonprofit director, and nationally certified and licensed clinical mental health counselor.  She offers a unique set of skills and experiences to the Durham Community. In addition to being a seasoned mental and behavioral health counselor, Jovonia has been an entrepreneur and community leader for over 20 years. Her career and community experiences include: 

  • working in the Solicitor General’s Office with survivors of domestic violence;
  • offering intensive family and juvenile mental health intervention for nonprofit organizations and in youth group homes; 
  • running a successful private counseling practice, providing mental health counseling and life skills education to youth; 
  • franchise ownership of Durham’s first Smoothie King; and 
  • leading as founding director of the Durham non-profit Empowered Parents in Community (EPIC).

County Commissioners are charged with governing Durham County and meetings its residents’ expansive needs. Jovonia is a fierce advocate for children, families, and small businesses and is an equity-minded consensus-builder. Her varied experience will be an asset to the board of county commissioners and she is ready to hit the ground running! She understands the nuance and complexity that comes with community building and governance and is well prepared to serve Durham with compassion and care.  

Mission-Driven Convener and Community Partner

As a counselor and community education advocate, Jovonia embraces the saying of Dr. Maya Angelou, “When you learn, teach.” Her heart for education, empowerment, and social justice led her to create a parent-led collective that advocates for equity in schools, Empowered Parents in Community ( EPiC’s mission is to dismantle systemic racial inequities through collective organizing and intentional engagement of Black parents and communities. 

Initially, she envisioned building a school-based village that would ensure that her three sons–who attend Durham Public Schools–would experience affirmation, inclusion and a true sense of belonging and support. However, the vision caught hold and quickly expanded beyond the programming and advancement taking place in her own children’s school. Soon, Jovonia, the EPiC team and other educators and advocates, had created structures to support parents throughout Durham County. In less than 3 years, 1/3 of the schools in the District increased their Black parent engagement with EPiC’s organizing and empowerment assistance. Through EPiC, Jovonia and her team continue to be community-rooted; authentically engaged; and offer education opportunities, race equity conversations, and forums for holding the school system accountable to policy. 

Servant Leader and Collaborator

Jovonia’s leads by example as she serves in Durham. She is known throughout the community as an authentic, trustworthy and dedicated collaborator and ally.  She has held a leadership position with: 

  • the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People’s Education Committee, 
  • the Board of Durham Council PTA, her local PTA, and leader on
  • the City of Durham’s Race Equity Task Force. 
  • Durham Public Schools Equity and Whole Child Advisory Committee, 
  • Durham Public School Foundation Championing DPS Committee, and 
  • the Superintendent’s Strategic Planning Committee. 

In 2020, after recognizing the value of and effectiveness of her leadership, colleagues and friends encouraged her to run for school board. She earned the endorsements of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, People’s Alliance, Equality NC, and Durham Association of Educators. She was sworn in as a School Board member with Durham Public School’s Board of Education in July 2020.

As a School Board member, she has been a thoughtful, consistent, strong leader who prioritizes equity and listening deeply to community. Jovonia relies on accurate and unbiased research, meticulous review and vetting of recommendations and careful planning to implement policies. As a result, she demonstrated her ability to support and foster consensus on critical issues like: 

  • modifying the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Durham County Sheriff’s department,
  • maintaining school closures in 2021 until staff could get vaccinated,
  • updating equity and dress code policies,
  • introducing the CROWN Act and supporting the recently passed LGBTQIA+ policy;
  • updating antiquated language in all DPS policies and sunsetting those that are outdated and irrelevant 


In her 2nd year of service, her peers elected Jovonia to serve as Vice Chair of the Durham Board of Education and she is proud of the relationships she has built with other elected officials, community members and families, as well as county workers and district staff. This has been instrumental in fostering her advocacy for policies, as well as grounding her leadership of budgets that support Durham educators, staff, and students. 

Jovonia’s breadth of experience– as a parent, small business owner, mental health expert and counselor, parent advocate, and city task force leader- lends necessary expertise and consensus-building to the commission. She and her family are members of St. Joseph’s AME Church in Durham, NC. And, she is a member of the illustrious sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated. She works tirelessly to share her talents and gifts with others through every endeavor. She has a deep sense of commitment to our community, driven by a desire to create positive change.