Class IX (2011-2012)

7. Summer Lewis

Sponsor Club: Manhattan Kansas, District 5710


Summer hails from Manhattan, Kansas, also known as “The Little Apple.” She graduated summa cum laude from Kansas State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, Spanish, and women's studies. As a student, Summer developed a fair trade project with an indigenous Guatemalan women’s textile cooperative. Inspired by this partnership, Summer joined Equal Exchange, the oldest and largest U.S. fair trade company, where she worked to connect communities of faith with small-scale coffee, tea, and chocolate farmers.

Summer has been involved in social justice initiatives at Kansas State University through her work with the Women’s Studies Program, the Nonviolence Studies Program, Leadership Studies, and local food projects. She has also lived in Chittagong, Bangladesh and worked for the Asian University for Women, an institution dedicated to cultivating women leaders committed to social and economic advancement of their communities.

Summer has traveled and lived in seventeen countries and speaks Spanish and Italian. She is the author of two articles: “‘Comercio con Justicia’ and Theory in Action at a Guatemalan Women’s Textile Cooperative” in Democracy Works: Joining Theory and Action to Foster Global Change (2008) and “‘Women Who Needed to Earn a Living Yesterday’: Challenging the Global Economy Through Home- Based Labor” in Women at Work (2010). Summer completed her Applied Field Experience in Vietnam with Roots of Peace, a humanitarian organization dedicated to eradicating landmines and rehabilitating land and livelihoods.

She assisted with the “Sustainable Horticulture and Agriculture Development Pilot Project” (SHADE), which focuses on improving the income of 1,100 farmers in the cacao, coffee, and pepper value chains. Summer accompanied staff on field visits, observed farmer training sessions, and met with government officials and industry groups. She carried out research, created marketing materials, and shared the Roots of Peace story through social media.

Overall, Summer’s AFE experience gave her an in-depth understanding of the social, political, and economic factors underlying cacao, coffee, and black pepper production in Vietnam and worldwide. Summer is interested in how factors involved in food systems – natural resources, labor, health, culture, gender, poverty, and trade – are interconnected and can generate the potential for conflict or the possibility for peace. She is specifically passionate about coffee, the second-most traded commodity after oil. Summer hopes to help smallscale farmers improve their livelihoods, and that of their families, by connecting them with specialty, fair trade, and organic coffee markets. She plans to do this by working with socially responsible coffee businesses and cooperatives that establish mutually beneficial trading relationships and assist small-scale coffee farmers in improving the quality of the coffee they grow.