Regina Lewis has lived a textured life.

She was raised as the daughter of a soldier and lived in a series of culturally diverse countries. She lived in poverty while her father fought in Vietnam. She also is a war veteran, having served in the U.S. Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. And she raised her son as a single mother after the 2001 death of his father.

“It has been pretty intense,” she said.

But despite the challenges she has faced, Lewis has allowed her experience to catalyze within her the tools to love, inspire and educate those around her.

“I live by the words, ‘To wake up consciously happy every day and be kind to everyone,’” she said. “I believe that emotion is energy … Why not give people good energy? That’s how I show up, and I love it.”

Lewis has carried that mantra with her throughout her career.

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After leaving the military, Lewis continued in higher education and received graduate and doctoral degrees in education from UCCS (while her son was in high school). In graduate school, Lewis discovered her gift of language and started a speaking and consulting business called ReginaSpeaking LLC.

“I started by doing team-building exercises in college and was also doing etiquette training for fifth graders,” she said. “Now, I speak about poverty, diversity and leadership all over — I inspire people and give them tools to reach their goals when faced with insurmountable odds, because I know what that’s like.”

Lewis is also the department chairwoman and instructor of communication at Pikes Peak Community College, an adjunct professor at UCCS and an executive coach for the Center for Creative Leadership. She said her greatest professional accomplishment has been “sparking the genius of our students.” One of those students was Haley Chapin, executive director of Monument-based nonprofit Tri-Lakes Cares.

“I met Regina five years ago at one of the many conferences where she was the featured keynote speaker,” Chapin said. “After attending her session, I said to myself, ‘I need to get to know this woman.’ Her insightfulness and passion of the Bridges Out of Poverty concept was impressive and intriguing. … Meeting her that day changed my life on both a personal and professional level.”

Lewis’ greatest love is for her son Charles, who is a part of nearly all of her presentations, she said. The 23-year-old graduated last year from the Air Force Academy, is married and now is stationed in Boston.

“I’m proud that I was able to pave the way for my son to achieve his successes,” she said.

— Cameron Moix