David Lewis

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David Lewis

1993 Global Fellow
Founder of Free At Last with Priya Haji and Natalie Seer

David Lewis 1993 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Reduce exceptionally high rates of substance abuse and HIV infection and to break the cycle of addiction by institutuing community-based, culturally appropriate bilingual treatment, intervention, and prevention services.


To treat the most marginalized, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach substance abusers, ideally the service provider needs to be accessible and located within the community. In a small closed community like East Palo Alto, people are more open to treatment when the role models are people with whom they identify. Free at Last provides community-based, culturally appropriate prevention, intervention, bilingual outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment services for adults, intervention services for at-risk youth, and transitional housing and aftercare for alumni. The organization’s primary goals are to break the cycle of addiction and rebuild families, provide alternatives to incarceration, prevent the spread of AIDS, foster education and economic self-sufficiency, and contribute to the health and safety of the community.


David Lewis was a nationally recognized educator and leader in the field of substance abuse recovery and prisoner rehabilitation. He co-founded Free At Last in 1993 in order to address the drug and violence issues in East Palo Alto in the 90s. When he passed away in 2010, he left behind a legacy of community-powered self-healing and hope.

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