FORECAST 2024: Meet new West Orange Chamber president Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis is hoping his age will be a benefit to the chamber and his experience can help him bridge the gap between the generations of business men and women who are members of the organization.

Stephen Lewis is looking forward to guiding the West Orange Chamber into a new era.
Stephen Lewis is looking forward to guiding the West Orange Chamber into a new era.
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When longtime president Stina D’Uva announced her retirement from the West Orange Chamber of Commerce last year, the organization embarked on a nationwide search to locate its next leader. After a months-long quest, the chamber ultimately selected a man who grew up in Central Florida, has a background in politics and can bring a national nonprofit perspective to the local level.

Stephen Lewis, 37, was hired in September and worked alongside D’Uva throughout October to ensure a smooth transition from one leader to the next.

Lewis has enjoyed getting to know the community and its businesses and residents, and he is eager to put his skills to work in the new year.

“When I think about my age and what it brings to this — I’m a student of history, so I feel that my age and my experience helps me to bridge the gap between the generation that came before us and my younger generation,” Lewis said. “I love the history and knowing what’s happened in the community, the pioneers of West Orange County and the history of the surrounding area. I think that being able to understand and appreciate that, (I can) help the younger generation understand that, those just coming in the work force.

“I come from the generation (that) we played outside and didn’t grow up with a computer,” he said. “That brings a perspective to things. I am bridging a gap between the older and young generations. It’s unique.”


Prior to coming to the West Orange Chamber, Lewis was the director of governance and leadership with Associated Builders & Contractors, a national construction industry trade association.

“One skill set I bring is I have a national perspective when it comes to nonprofit management,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I got to travel to 45 states when I was traveling on the road. … Twelve years on the road — I got to see large organizations and small organizations, and I think I’m able to bring a perspective that few can bring in that I’ve seen small organizations that are very well run and large organizations that are very well run, and both that are poorly run, and I’m able to bring that national perspective to the local community.

“I come from the trade association world, and I know there’s a lot that can be gleaned from it,” he said.

Lewis attended Tallahassee Community College — he said he believes students truly benefit from going to a two-year college before attending a university. He learned more about the political scene when he interned for former State Rep. Bryan Nelson.

In his junior year at Florida State University, he began his career with ABC as an administrative assistant in the Tallahassee office, giving him experience in the trade association aspect of politics.

He graduated from FSU with a bachelor’s degree in political science and social science, with a minor in communication, in 2008 and worked as a lobbyist with the ABC of Florida team. In 2010, he earned a master’s degree in political science from FSU.

In 2018, he earned the Certified Association Executive credential, which is the marker of an association professional who has demonstrated the wide range of knowledge essential to managing a not-for-profit organization.

Having worked nationally and throughout Florida, Lewis has garnered a network that extends beyond the local chamber — one he hopes can benefit the West Orange organization when he and his team tackle several initiatives in 2024.


The West Orange Chamber has three committees that serve its more than 1,150 members: Ambassador Committee, Economic Governmental Advocacy Committee and the West Orange Political Alliance. There is a fourth group, the West Orange Foundation, but it operates as a separate entity.

Lewis said he considers the chamber to be uniquely situated as the hub of innovation and creativity.

“We have the world’s largest theme parks in our backyard that are members of our chamber, we have literally world-class medical facilities that are members of our chamber, we have businesses, sports franchises — we represent such a large swath of industries,” he said. “We have the ability to bring together people and industries that otherwise wouldn’t connect, and I think that’s when you can come up with unique ideas and solve complex problems that our community faces.

“I think that we have people that have skill sets that otherwise wouldn’t intersect, and we can bring them together to synergize,” Lewis said.

Leadership West Orange introduces participants to people in other industries. Chamber memberships include the University of Central Florida, Valencia College, Orange County Public Schools and individual OCPS school board members, bringing in an educational component to the conversation. West Orange Foundation has helped with food insecurity and provides scholarships to high school students.

2024 will bring some changes to the West Orange Foundation, Lewis said. Chamber leadership is working on reshaping the entity’s focus, and he said the goal is to bring together community partners to fulfill the new purpose.

This also is an election year, so WOPA members will be busy making sure they are providing smart guidance on business-friendly candidates who are running for office, Lewis said. The political hobnob is an important event that allows chamber members to meet and ask questions of candidates.

Lewis and his team will be examining all of the chamber’s events and programs.

“I tell my staff, there isn’t an idea (that’s bad),” he said. “Even if we’ve brought it up before … things that didn’t work before, let’s try it again in the post-Covid world. If we see something successful, we’ll try to replicate that.”

Lewis is excited for the challenge of merging the chamber’s past with its future and to educate members, especially those in the younger generation, on the organization’s history.

He is an Eagle scout, so service to others and community is second nature to him.

“My desire to serve the community came a long time ago,” Lewis said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to run for office; that was always, when I was a kid, something that interested me. But now I find that this is such a great way to give back to the community. Being in scouts, I always knew I wanted to give back to the community, and it’s kind of manifested itself in this position.

My interest is getting involved in the community and getting engaged in a real way.

“One thing I try to stress is that I’m a servant leader,” he said. “I want to listen to the needs of our membership and respond accordingly. I want to make sure we are providing the resources and benefits to our members that they want and need.”


When Lewis isn’t handling chamber business, he is spending time with his wife of 13 years, Amanda, and their two children, Hayden, 7, and Lawson, 5, who are active in sports. The Lewises live in Windermere — not far from Lewis’ hometown of Apopka — and enjoy frequently taking their boat out on the Butler Chain of Lakes.

The family has an affinity for the theme parks, too, and they split their time between Animal Kingdom, the kids’ favorite, and Epcot, the adults’ preferred park.

“We love the theme parks,” Lewis said. “We like to take advantage of all the area has to offer: the lakes, the theme parks, Oakland Nature Preserve.”

Stephen and Amanda Lewis and their children had fun participating in the 2023 Windermere Golf Cart Parade.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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