Recognizing notable leaders who served in local public and civic leadership roles and embrace women’s rights, voting rights, and civic activism.

Behind the scenes are civic servants who quietly contribute to our lives, fighting for social justice, civil rights, and creating positive change for their local communities. We recognize here only some of these women who have spent their lives dedicated to progress in Charlotte and are privileged to honor these women as we look back and move forward. – Engage 2020

Special Collection

Thereasea Clark Elder

Thereasea Clark Elder has been a pioneering nurse and community activist in Charlotte for more than eight decades. T.D., as she is affectionately called, was born on September 2, 1927 and grew up in Charlotte’s Greenville neighborhood. After graduating from West Charlotte High School, she attended Johnson C. Smith University and enlisted in the U.S. Cadet Nursing Program, which prepared her for a career in public health nursing. She worked at Good Samaritan Hospital, Charlotte’s predominantly Black hospital, and later became one of the first African American home-health nurses to integrate the public health nursing profession in Mecklenburg County. Additionally, she founded the Greenville Historical Society and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Heritage Committee. Ms. Elder is a member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. She is responsible for two historical markers commemorating Good Samaritan Hospital, the first privately funded Black hospital and Pearl Street Park, the first “Negro” playground for African-Americans in Mecklenburg County.

An interview with Delores Johnson Hurt

Women Who Lead

Congresswoman Alma Adams

Alma S. Adams left, NANCBPWC Inc. Women’s History Hall of Fame 2018

The Honorable Alma S. Adams is the 100th woman elected to the 113th Congress. She currently serves in several leadership positions including Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus, Vice Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee, and ranking member of the Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulation. Dr. Adams’ career as an artist and educator spans more than 4 decades. Before election to Congress she was an art professor and administrator at Bennett College in Greensboro where she also managed the college’s art collections and ran its art gallery. In 1991 she co-founded the African American Atelier gallery. She served as the Atelier’s curator of exhibitions for more than 23 years, led major fundraising initiatives for the organization, and developed Guilford County’s oldest year-round youth art program. Dr. Adams has dedicated her life to promoting equitable opportunities, expanding and elevating the arts and artists, and promoting quality education for students, children and families. She began her political career in the 1980 by becoming the first African American woman ever elected to the Greensboro City School Board and, at the time, made a lifetime commitment to effecting social change in her community and beyond. She led the fight to boost funds for HBCU and introduced legislation leading to the successful passage of a 3.1-Billion-dollar statewide University Bond Referendum. Congresswoman Adams also spearheaded the state’s first successful minimum wage increase in nine years. She introduced legislation to provide nutritious breakfasts in schools, increase teacher pay and quality, and expand affordable health care across the state. She pioneered the Displaced Homemakers Bill and, while serving in the NC General Assembly, rose to become chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus and the Caucus Foundation. Dr. Adams has served on numerous boards and commissions and continues as a member of the Atelier board. She is a member of the Black Political Caucus of Mecklenburg and the Democratic Women of Mecklenburg. Over the years, she has received numerous awards and recognitions for her community work effecting positive social change.

Anna D. Wood

Anna D. Wood 3rd from left, Thereasea C. Elder’s 90th Birthday Party 2017

Anna D. Wood is a well-known activist and supporter of progressive issues who began her public service at the time the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board was designing its first busing plans following the 1971 Swann decision. A resident of Derita then, she was one of the most vocal opponents to the early plans which were blatantly unfair to minority and low-income neighborhoods. Those activities propelled her into numerous advocacy projects and leadership positions in the League of Women Voters of Charlotte Mecklenburg, ACLU, National Organization for Women and the Democratic Party, among others. Anna was president of Addchek Coils, Inc. and joined the League in 1958.

Anna M. Hood

Anna Means Hook is often described as a beacon of light. She is the first person of color hired by the Social Security Administration in 1963 in Mecklenburg County and the Piedmont area. Her efficiency and notable courage led to the hiring of additional persons of color by the Administration in 1965. Ms. Hood advanced within the Administration and retired from the Agency in 1990. Achievements by Ms. Hood are recognized in the arenas of Christian stewardship, educational leadership, government, politics and activism on behalf of humankind. Active in the community, Ms. Hood is the co-founder and a past president of the Charlotte Club of The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (NANBPWC). She has served in several capacities in the Club, which emphasizes greater service to mankind and awards annual scholarships to worth students. Ms. Hood has many other past and present community involvements and recognitions.

Anna Hood joined the League of Women Voters of Charlotte Mecklenburg in 1965, one of the first African American women in the local League and served a term as treasurer. Governor Jim Hunt awarded Anna the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1995 for her proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Governor Beverly Purdue commended her for “dedication in promoting volunteer service to North Carolina’s greatest resource, her people.” Her service to the state included establishing the Charlotte branch of the NANBPWC, Inc. and serving as president of the Black Women’s Political Caucus. She is manager of Little Giant Investment Group.

Aretha Blake

Aretha Blake right, Celebration Honoring Women Elected to Office 2017

As a lifelong community and family advocate, Judge Blake is dedicated to engaging with residents of Mecklenburg County beyond the boundaries of the courtroom. For more than 20 years, Judge Blake has served families, youth, and community organizations. She presided over hundreds of juvenile hearings and is committed to using her experience on the Juvenile Court bench to facilitate the efficient implementation of North Carolina’s new Raise the Age law. Judge Blake was first elected in November 2016 in a countywide judicial campaign. Judge Blake serves the citizens of Mecklenburg County in Family and Juvenile Court. She also serves in various judicial leadership and volunteer roles, including: Volunteer Truancy Court Judge at Whitewater Middle School, Judicial Liaison to the Mecklenburg County Youth Coalition, Led the effort to secure a $10,000 grant to help provide prosocial activities to youth in foster care and Judicial Liaison to the Juvenile Law Section of the Mecklenburg County Bar. Prior to her election to the District Court Bench, Judge Blake represented individuals and organizations in state and federal courts in North and South Carolina. She also provided professional development support to law students.

Beatrice “Bea” Thompson

Beatrice Thompson left, Reception for Dr. Willie Griffin, Levine Museum 2018

Beatrice Thompson is a broadcast television and radio personality in the Charlotte, North Carolina metropolitan area. Thompson works for two CBS radio stations, WBAV 101.9 FM and WPEG Power 98 FM, as a talk show host and as a news and public affairs director. She became the first female black TV news anchor in Charlotte, breaking the barrier for African-American women to start anchoring. She is often referred to as a pioneer broadcaster and a rarity in the industry. She spent her entire 40-year career in her hometown. Her style is very distinctive because she is easily recognizable for her “tell it like it is” demeanor. Ms. Thompson was inducted into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

Becky Carney

Becky Carney right, Celebration Honoring Women Elected to Office 2017

Becky Carney has served as a Charlotte district Delegate to the NC House of Representatives since 2004. Prior to that she had been a Mecklenburg County Commissioner for eight years and was an outspoken leader for funding of public schools, community colleges, libraries, parks, human services and arts and sciences. Rep. Carney’s passion is evidenced by the kind of bills she introduced to the General Assembly in 2019. They included fairness and integrity in redistricting, living wage, youth gun violence commission, supporting rape victims, closing the Medicaid coverage gap, arts education requirements and automatic expunction of certain criminal records when charges are dismissed or the finding is not guilty, among others. She has been a loyal supporter of issues advocated by the League of Women Voters, of which she is a member, and many women’s organizations.

Bertha Allen

Bertha Allen middle, CMBHC Thereasea C. Elder Trailblazer Award Brunch 2017

Bertha Allen is a semi-retired Public Health Educator who teaches part time at the local Community College and manages a community-based social service organization. She is a US Navy veteran, having served as Lead Petty Officer at Camp Lejeune during Operation Desert Storm. Ms. Allen with the assistance County Commissioner George Higgins successfully petitioned the 1985 Board of County Commissioners of Mecklenburg County to reinstate military reserve annual training pay as the County discontinued this practice before 1985. Bertha’s civic involvement includes membership in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Heritage Committee (CMBHC); where historically significant contributions of individuals and/or institutions are identified and celebrated. Such honors were bestowed on Good Samaritan Hospital, the only hospital for African Americans built in 1891 and closed in 1982, contributions of Civil Rights attorneys and law firms, Black educators of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Black churches, Pearl Street Park, the first public “Negro” playground and others. Ms. Allen wanted to “give back” to her community and served as Judicial District 26 Guardian Ad Litem Volunteer, Charlotte League of Women Voters Charlotte Mecklenburg and as a member of the Charlotte/Monroe Chapter 0051 National Black Veterans Association (NABVETS).

Dr. Bertha Maxwell-Roddey

Dr. Bertha Maxwell-Roddey has spent a lifetime educating students, building institutions, and facilitating racial integration. She began her professional career as a teacher and principal in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, later becoming the first African American to serve as an administrator in a predominantly white school. She also started the first Head Start program in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Maxwell-Roddey led UNC Charlotte’s Black Studies Program from 1971 to 1986, serving as the founding chairperson when the program became a department, and presiding over the creation of the undergraduate major in African American and African Studies (now Africana Studies). Dr. Maxwell-Roddey also spearheaded the establishment of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS); and she co-founded Charlotte’s Afro-American Cultural Center, now the Harvey B Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture. She has also served on more than fifty boards and commissions nationally. Dr. Maxwell-Roddey is a recipient of several awards, including the Thurgood Marshall Award of Education and the State of North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Betty Chafin Rash

Betty Chafin Rash left, Celebration Honoring Women Elected to Office 2017

Betty Chafin Rash was the first woman to serve as Mayor Pro Tem of the Charlotte City Council, and just the third woman elected to the Council in 1975. During her three terms on the Council, Ms. Rash was a driving force for district representation so that all Charlotteans would have a voice in governing, not just the uptown businessmen. In addition to her advocacy with the League of Women Voters for more than 50 years, she was a co-founder of the Women’s Political Caucus, encouraging women to run for elective office. She also helped launch the 2008 Women’s Summit which has grown to become the Women + Girls Research Alliance, focused on improving the lives of girls and women through research coupled with active community engagement. Along with her husband, Dennis Rash, Ms. Rash received the University’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, recognizing their dedication to the community and UNC Charlotte.

Beverly Earle

Beverly Earle second from left, Celebration Honoring Women Elected to Office 2017

Beverly Earle was the first African-American woman to be elected to the North Carolina Legislature from Mecklenburg County. In her first run for elective office she won a seat in the NC House of Representatives in 1996 representing District 60 on the eastside of Charlotte. Redistricting in 2000 put her in District 101 which changed her constituency to the northwest sections of Charlotte which she represented for another 18 years until she retired. She also was the first woman to chair the Legislative Black Caucus. She was known as a leader on health and aging issues. Before being elected to public office, she served on the League of Women Voters board.

Brenda Tindal, Historian

Brenda Tindal launched her career in the museum field at Levine Museum of the New South, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was part of the curatorial team that developed an exhibit that received the National Medal for Museum Service in 2005. In 2015, Tindal became Levine’s first woman and African American to serve as Staff Historian and Senior Vice-President of Research and Collections. She is an awarding-winning educator, scholar and museum practitioner. After leaving the Charlotte museum, Ms. Tindal went on to become the Director of Education at the Detroit Historical Society, where she oversaw the K-16 education initiatives, public programming, and provided organizational leadership in the areas of museum visitor experience and strategic engagement. She currently serves as director of education and engagement at the International African American Museum in Charleston, SC. Ms. Tindal is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a 2011 Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) at Princeton University.

Judge Carla Archie

Judge Carla Archie was the recipient of the 2019 Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award, which celebrates persons in our community who have advanced the cause of diversity and equal opportunity. She started her legal career as a prosecutor in Charlotte, NC, and was promoted to Chief Assistant District Attorney in charge of felony drug prosecutions. She then transitioned into commercial litigation as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for Wachovia Corporation. Judge Archie was elected to serve as a Resident Superior Court Judge for the 26th Judicial District of North Carolina in 2014. Judge Archie has been deeply involved for many years in the civic life of her community in Charlotte and Raleigh. She is a past president of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, has served on the board of the Triangle Urban League, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and the STARS Math and English Academy, a non-profit in Charlotte that provides additional educational services for at-risk children. She has been recognized as one of Charlotte’s 50 most influential women by the Mecklenburg Times. She was recently selected to be a member of Duke Law School’s Judicial Studies LLM current class. Judge Archie has spent her adult life as a leader and path builder. She gives credit for her public leadership to her mother who was mayor of her hometown.

Carlenia Graham Ivory

Carlenia Graham Ivory right, Rockwell Park Community Fire Station #22 2017

Carlenia Graham Ivory works in CMS’ Community Relations and Outreach department. She has served on a number of community boards and won awards for her volunteer efforts, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keeper of the Dream Award, the Charlotte POST Community Service Award, and the TIAA-CREF Leader in Learning and Liberty Award. In the Double Oaks community, she organized the Saturday Enrichment Program for children, designed a tutoring/mentoring program to help students with math and computer skills and sponsored S.A.T. prep workshops. Ivory also led the effort to raise more than $2.6 million to build the Oaklawn Recreation Center. Carlenia Graham Ivory works in CMS’ Community Relations and Outreach department. She has served on a number of community boards and won awards for her volunteer efforts, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keeper of the Dream Award, the Charlotte POST Community Service Award, and the TIAA-CREF Leader in Learning and Liberty Award. In the Double Oaks community, she organized the Saturday Enrichment Program for children, designed a tutoring/mentoring program to help students with math and computer skills and sponsored S.A.T. prep workshops. Ivory also led the effort to raise more than $2.6 million to build the Oaklawn Recreation Center.

Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins

Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins was the first woman of color to lead the League of Women Voters of the US in its first 100 years. Her latest book, The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters, was released Feb. 29, 2020, as she was speaking at the 100th anniversary Gala of the LWV Charlotte Mecklenburg and women gaining the right to vote. Since the early 1980s, she has served in a range of capacities at the local, state, and national levels of the League. Her career in public school and higher education spanned more than forty years. Even though retired, Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins continues to be an advocate and activist for civil rights, social justice, educational excellence, and stronger citizen participation in the electoral process for underrepresented populations. Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins is a recognized authority on the voting rights of African Americans and is the author of two books on Black suffrage.

Carolyn Logan

Carolyn Logan started her career in law enforcement in 1977 as a police officer in Asheville, joining the NC State Highway Patrol in 1984. Beginning as a sergeant, she rose through the ranks doing supervision and training, handling public relations and conducting safety training programs for officers and outside groups. She was appointed the statewide incident Management Coordinator for NCDOT in 2013. With the belief that the government needs to work for everyone and that our priorities must be making life more livable for the people of North Carolina, Ms. Logan won the District 101 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2018. She was backed by the Black Women’s Political Caucus in which she had been active for years.

Cheryl S. Emanuel

Cheryl Emanuel has dedicated 32 years of her professional career to public health and community development. She currently serves as a senior health manager for the Mecklenburg County Health Department’s (MCHD) Office of Community Engagement. She has managed health prevention initiatives with a focus on improving the health and quality of life for racial/ethnic minorities through policy development, community engagement, program implementation, cultural diversity training, access to care and resources dissemination. She is also the visionary leader of Mecklenburg County’s Healthy Cities & Counties Challenge award winning program VillageHeartBEAT (VHB). The VHB project is designed to reduce heart disease incidence for 210,000 residents living in underserved African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in the county. Ms. Emanuel was one of the first public health officials to recruit local African-American churches to combat HIV/AIDS in the ‘90s. She is also a 2017 MLK Keep the Dream receipt.

Colette Forrest

Colette Forrest is a community activist who regularly conducts social justice forums to help the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community understand and act on these issues. She also served a term as Black Political Caucus (BPC) chair and was named The Post’s Newsmaker of the Year in 2017. Under Ms. Forrest’s leadership BPC expanded its role in Charlotte politics. The conference initiated metrics in its candidate endorsements, conducted forums for people interested in running for political office and hosted town hall meetings on police-civilian relationships. The results were sweeping, with every BPC-endorsed City Council candidate elected, including Vi Lyles as the first black woman to win the mayor’s office and approval of a $922 million school bond. She has been a paid staffer for NC US Senator John Edwards, worked on the paid campaign staff of NC US Congressman Mel Watt, NC US Senate Candidate Erskine Bowles, At-Large Charlotte, NC City Councilman Anthony Foxx, NC Governor Beverly Perdue, NC US Senator Kay Hagan and Charlotte, NC District Court Judge Charlotte Brown-Williams. Ms. Forrest also volunteered on the campaigns of SC US Congressman Jim Clyburn, Columbia, SC Mayor Steve Benjamin, Charlotte, NC At-Large City Councilman & Mayor Patrick Cannon, Charlotte, NC Mayor Anthony Foxx and Charlotte, NC District Court Judge Kimberly Best-Staton. She is currently Primary Principal at People’s Voice Management Group, Inc.

Dee Dixon

Dee Dixon left, Healthiest Cities & Counties Grand Prize Announcement 2019

Dee Dixon is the co-founder of Pride Communications Inc., which focuses on the African American experience. She also operates Pride Magazine and Pride Public Relations. Additionally, she founded the nonprofit Pride Entrepreneur Education Program in 2008. Beyond her many other contributions to the greater Charlotte community, including as the owner/publisher of Pride Magazine, she now serves as the chair of Charlotte Museum of History’s board of trustees. Ms. Dixon is a creative visionary who understands effective communication and has deep experience with community and cultural organizations in Charlotte. Furthermore, she was named the Charlotte Business Woman of the Year in 2006 and awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award in 2009, which is the highest award for state service granted by the governor. She also served on the boards of the Mint Museum, the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Association. She is also the co-founder of the Women’s Intercultural Exchange. Ms. Dixon has been named as one of 2015’s 50 Most Influential Women by the Mecklenburg Times Newspaper.

Delores Johnson Hurt

Portrait of Delores Johnson Hurt at League of Women Voter's Charlotte-Mecklenburg annual meeting in 2019

Delores is a civil rights, journalistic and entrepreneurial pioneer with professional experience as a news reporter, non-profit administrator, small business owner and educator. She was awarded the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship at Winthrop University where she was the first African-American undergraduate. To enter Winthrop, Ms. Johnson Hurt received a NAACP Legal Defense Fund Scholarship, designed to advance desegregation of Southern colleges and universities following the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Active in the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NANBPWC, Inc.) in Charlotte, she served in numerous positions, including chairing the Founder’s Day and Adopt-A-Community committees. Ms. Johnson Hurt was inducted into the Women’s History Hall of Fame in 2011. Her alma mater, Winthrop University, honored her with the Alumni Professional Achievement award in 2013 and Alumni Distinguished Service Award 2017. She joined the League of Women Voters of Charlotte Mecklenburg in 2014 and was elected president in 2016.

Diane Bowles, Ph.D.

Diane Bowles, Ph.D., is Vice President at Johnson C. Smith University and serves as the Director of the Smith Institute for Applied Research and is the University’s Title III Administrator. Dr. Bowles’ eight-year record at JCSU has produced several notable accomplishments. Under her leadership, government sponsored programs and contracts continue to generate increased funding and excellence in research throughout the University. She established and currently leads an expert staff of pre and post grant management specialists who actively support faculty and professional staff in grant development and administration. Bowles is a nationally recognized leader in all aspects of Title III Administration and she successfully provides oversight and maintains JCSU’s funding status through each review cycle. Dr. Bowles has worked with a team of faculty liaisons over the past two years to launch Smith Institute’s four Centers of Excellence: the Center of Excellence in Diversity, Workforce and Small Business Development: the Center of Excellence in Minority Health, Lifestyle, Culture, and Wellness; the Center of Excellence in Homeland Security-STEM; and the Center of Excellence in Global Education. She is founding publisher of Smith Institute, an applied research periodical, featuring articles that capture and inform readers about the scope, methods, and applied research activities throughout Smith Institute and the full University as well. She also successfully launched Smith Institute’s Multidisciplinary Applied Computational Modeling and Simulations (MACMAS) Lab. This state-of-the-art facility will allow faculty, students, civic and community-based collaborators to utilize and experience cutting-edge computational methods for addressing complex research questions and designs. She was formerly employed by Clark Atlanta University as the Director of Distance Learning and Director of the Army funded Videoconferencing Training, Research, and Education Center (ViTREC).

Dimple Ajmera

Dimple Tansen Ajmera is a politician and Certified Public Accountant who has served on the Charlotte City Council since 2017. She is the first Asian-American and youngest woman to ever hold this position. Ms. Ajmera ran her race on a proven record of achievements that included Public Safety, Affordable Housing, the Environment, Women’s Equality, Economic Development, and Infrastructure. As a CPA, she managed multimillion-dollar budgets, including working with TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association). As a councilmember she has championed affordable healthcare for thousands of local employees. Some of her many awards and recognitions are: 2018 Global Service Award by Rotary International; One of Longleaf Politics’ 54 Top Young Political Stars in North Carolina; One of the 50 most influential women in Mecklenburg County by Mecklenburg Times; Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 under 40; 2019 Blue Sky award for public policy work by Clean Air Carolina; Community Advocate award by Cafe Mocha Radio; and NAACP Excellence in Leadership.

Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy

Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy was the twelfth president of Johnson C. Smith University and the first female to be elected to this prestigious post (1994-2008). Dr. Yancy marshaled in phenomenal growth and progress during this period, she exceeded campaign goals of $50 million for the Campaign of the 90’s and $75 million for the Pathways to Success Campaign, raising $63.8 million and $81.4 million respectively. For this achievement, she was heralded as one of the best fundraisers nationally. She has raised more than $125 million for the university since 1994, increasing the endowment to more than four times its original size, from $14 million to $57 million. Under Dr. Yancy’s leadership, Johnson C. Smith University became the first HBCU “Laptop” university, issuing IBM Thinkpads to all its students. Prior to this historic feat, Dr. Yancy led the University during a three-year period of strategic planning in technology and faculty/staff development, resulting in an integrated approach to a liberal arts higher education. She is energetic, dedicated, and highly effective as a promoter/guardian of excellence in higher education.

Elisa Chinn-Gary

Elisa Chinn-Gary left, NANBPWC, Inc. Women’s History Hall of Fame 2017

Elisa Chinn-Gary (Clerk of Superior Court & Judge of Probate) is Mecklenburg County’s Family Court Administrator and a leader in building and strengthening Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ). RMJJ is a collaboration of judicial officials, systems’ experts, service providers and community partners that works to mitigate the impact of implicit bias and institutional racism to children and families. RMJJ’s vision is a Charlotte-Mecklenburg community where the composition and outcomes of juvenile courts cannot be predicted by race and/or ethnicity. Every year, RMJJ hosts a regional conference that equips hundreds of leaders with the tools and techniques to interrupt implicit biases within their own communities and organizations. Elisa Chinn-Gary was honored by the Mecklenburg County Bar with the 2014 Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award, which is presented to an individual who embodies high ethical standards, unquestioned integrity, consistent competence and who champions diversity in the legal profession.

Ella Scarborough

Ella Scarborough right, LWVCM Annual Meeting 2017

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Ella Scarborough became chair after she was re-elected in 2016. Commissioner Scarborough serves on the Economic Development Committee and was appointed one of the vice chairs of the Economic Development Committee for the National Board of County Commissioners in 2015 (comprised of members nationwide). She continues her long history of service to Mecklenburg County that began when she was elected the first female African American City Council member. She has also served as the president of the NC League of Municipalities and of the Black Women’s Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Ms. Scarborough is a former national chair of the Public Utilities Librarians and president of Metrolina Librarians’ Association. Ella Scarborough has the distinction of being the first African American woman elected to the Charlotte City Council. During her City Council tenure, 1987-1997, she served as both a district representative and as an at large representative. She broke new ground when elected to the Mecklenburg County Commission in 2014 and served one term as the first African American woman to lead the commission. She continues her service on the board to this day. When she was a student at South Carolina State University, Ms. Scarborough went to jail as a protester and witnessed the Orangeburg Massacre in 1968 in her hometown. She is active in numerous women’s and civic organizations, including several librarians’ groups stemming from her library science training and long career.

Emily F. Zimmern

Emily Zimmern left, NANBPWC, Inc. Women’s History Hall of Fame 2017

Emily Zimmern served as Executive Director and President of Levine Museum of the New South from 1995 to 2015. Under her leadership, active engagement in Charlotte’s civic life became the museum’s hallmark and the institution attracted national attention as a place of dialogue, an advocate for inclusion, and an incubator of community. The museum received numerous accolades, including two Excellence in Exhibition Awards from the American Alliance of Museums. At the White House in 2006, First Lady Laura Bush presented Levine Museum with the esteemed National Award for Museum Service. Through her work at Levine Museum, Emily Zimmern has become involved in immigration issues in the Charlotte community. She was invited to co-chair the City of Charlotte’s Immigrant Integration Task Force, which presented its comprehensive recommendations to City Council in March 2015. Based on her experiences both at the museum and with the task force, she has been invited to make a number of presentations, including talks at Welcoming American conferences, the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting and the Yeongwol International Museum Forum in South Korea. From her twenty years of experience leading Levine Museum of the New South, she has come to believe ever more strongly that shared stories build community, that everyone’s history matters, and that confronting the unvarnished truth about the past can set individuals and communities free to change and create a better future. Long active in community affairs and the nonprofit sector, she has held leadership positions on the boards of the Community Building Initiative, Planned Parenthood, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Foundation for the Carolinas, Charlotte Jewish Federation, and United Jewish Appeal. Most recently she served as board chair of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits and a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Cultural Competency Task Force. Ms. Zimmern’s honors include Charlotte Woman of the Year 2002, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence 2011 and Leadership Charlotte’s Schley R. Lyons Circle of Excellence Award 2013.

Fannie Flono

Fannie Flono right, Siloam School fundraiser for Charlotte Museum of History 2020

Journalist and editor at the Charlotte Observer, author of Thriving in the Shadows: The Black Experience in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (Novello Festival Press, 2006), Board member – Charlotte Museum of History, Augustine Literacy Project-Charlotte, and Read Charlotte.

Felicia McAdoo, Chief Deputy Sheriff

Felicia McAdoo right, NANBPWC, Inc. Charlotte Club 40th Founders’ Day 2017

Chief Deputy Sheriff, Felicia McAdoo, Retired is a thirty year veteran of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office where she was the agency’s highest ranking officer. Ms. McAdoo began her career in 1986 starting as a security officer. She has served in every level of supervision, i.e., Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, and Detention Commander until her selection to Chief Deputy in 2008. Chief McAdoo is a member of the American Correctional Association, National Sheriff’s Association, North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, and North Carolina Jail Administrators Association. She has served as a mentor for Mecklenburg County’s Leadership Education and Development program and the National Association of Black Public Administrators. She is a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force and was named 2012 Employee of the Year for Mecklenburg County. In the same year she received the Distinguished Service Award from the NAACP. In 2015 she was recognized and awarded as “A Phenomenal Woman” by the For Sister’s Only Organization. In 2016 she was honored by the Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County with the Doris Cromartie Award, that same year she was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the Governor and in 2017 she was awarded the Order of the Hornet by the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners. The Charlotte Club of NANBPWC, Inc. honored Chief McAdoo with its Professional Achievement Award for 2017.

Geneal Gregory

Aug 30, 1948 – Mar 31, 2020

Geneal Gregory left, Growing up in Charlotte with Pride Magazine 2016

Geneal Gregory was a lifelong Charlottean and a graduate of West Charlotte High School. She devoted herself to the betterment of the city of Charlotte in her career as a social worker, as a leader within the Democratic Party, the NAACP, and Black Political Caucus, and within the United House of Prayer, where she served as historian. In her political work, she spoke out when a principle was at stake, but preferred “to use diplomacy and help develop solutions.”

When an emergency faced the entire city, Geneal Gregory stepped up to help. For example, in 1997 she was asked by the Foundation for the Carolinas to join the Community Building Task Force, which addressed racial divisions that had surfaced after an officer-involved shooting of a Black motorist. In 2010, the Library called upon her guidance, and she agreed to serve on the Future of the Library Task Force, charting a way back to health for the Library after the serious budget cuts of that year.

Geraldine Sumter

Geraldine Sumter is an Attorney at Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A. specializing in Real Estate, Employment Discrimination, Civil Rights, Civil & Human Rights, and General Practice. Attorney Sumter is a member of the North Carolina and South Carolina State Bars. For a number of years, she has been voted by her peers as a Super Lawyer in employment litigation, as well as a member of the “Legal Elite” by Business North Carolina. She is very involved in civic and social justice issues affecting the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

Hattie “Chatty Hatty” Leeper

Hattie Leeper was inducted into the Black Radio Hall of Fame on December 6, 1989. As “Chatty Hattie” on radio station WGIV, she was one of the few black women to find a spot in broadcasting in the 1950s and 1960s. Later in her career, she taught as a professor at Gaston College.

Jennifer Roberts

Jennifer Roberts served as Charlotte’s mayor during one of the city’s most difficult periods when protests after the 2016 police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott turned violent. Then she had to contend with the fallout of the General Assembly’s notorious law aimed at Charlotte (later rescinded) which prevented local governments from passing and implementing anti-discrimination and employment policies. When she was elected mayor in 2015, she was the first person who had served as both chair of the Mecklenburg County Commission and as mayor. She was first elected to the County Commission in 2004 and became chair in 2006 as the top vote-getter. She served two more terms. A strong advocate on environmental issues, Ms. Roberts championed a Park and Recreation Master Plan, supported energy reduction in county operations and headed a Clean Air Works initiative to reduce carbon emissions. During her tenure as mayor, she led the formation of NEXT, an after-school program for at-risk teens.

Joyce Waddell

Joyce Waddell standing center, Allegra Westbrooks Regional (formerly Beatties Ford Road) Library, Elizabeth S. Randolph Community Room Rededication 2018

Joyce Waddell is a life-long advocate for education, starting as a teacher and administrator in the Charlotte Mecklenburg schools. A member of the League of Women Voters since 1997, she has worked to support many of the same education issues as the League during her tenure on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education and in the District 40 NC Senate seat. In previous legislative sessions she fought hard to save teaching assistants and the state’s driver’s education program. She has also been a strong advocate of economic development and health care. NC Senator Waddell was first elected to the School Board in 2009 where she served until taking the Senate seat in 2015. She has been re-elected twice and has served on the education appropriation and finance committees.

Karen Eady-Williams

Karen Eady-Williams right, NANBPWC, Inc. Women’s History Hall of Fame 2017

Karen Eady-Williams is a Superior Court Judge in Mecklenburg County. She was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2017 and elected to an eight-year term in 2018. Prior to her appointment, Judge Eady-Williams had served as an assistant public defender, assistant US attorney for the Western District of NC and a district court judge, beginning in 2010. She and her husband Darrel Williams have significantly supported and contributed to myriad civic endeavors over the years in the greater Charlotte community.

Linda Lockman-Brooks

Linda Lockman-Brooks left, Allegra Westbrooks Regional (formerly Beatties Ford Road) Library, Elizabeth S. Randolph Community Room Rededication 2018

Linda Lockman-Brooks is an experienced strategic marketing expert, with a corporate background in senior level positions at TWA, J. Walter Thompson, American Express, Bank of America and Duke Energy. Becoming an entrepreneur with the launch of Lockman-Brooks Marketing Services, she has built a reputation of achieving bottom-line results with her deep understanding of strategic communications and branding. As Principal of Lockman-Brooks Marketing Services, she consults on branding, communications, and executive coaching. Ms. Lockman-Brooks is also a board of trustee member for Central Piedmont Community College, Arts and Science Council, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation.

Lucille Howard

Lucille Howard right, Celebration Honoring Women Elected to Office 2017

Lucille Howard has been a member of the League of Women Voters for 50 years, serving as an officer or as a member of the board for many of them. She started her service to the League and community as coordinator of a speakers’ bureau for ERA in 1979. She and Beth Springston became the first co-presidents of the League, 2004-2008. With a background in journalism, Ms. Howard was tapped to revise the League’s State Government Handbook in 1983 and again in 1990. She compiled the findings of a state-wide study of North Carolina revenue into a book about the impact of taxes on NC citizens. Recent publications include the bi-monthly Voter newsletter and the 100th Anniversary program.

Madie Smith-Moore

Madie Smith-Moore right, Healthiest Cities & Counties Grand Prize Announcement 2019

Smith-Moore was one of the first nurses in an integrated group to visit and work in schools that were predominately white in the early ‘70s. She would eventually rise through the ranks to become the first Black public health supervisor in Mecklenburg. After college, Smith-Moore taught nursing arts at Good Samaritan. She encouraged young nurses to pursue graduate degrees so they could get promotions that weren’t available to her. She was an excellent role model.

Margaret A. Alexander

Margaret Alexander center, CMBHC Thereasea C. Elder Trailblazer Award 2015

Margaret Alexander is known as the Matriarch of Alexander Family and often called “Mother of Civil Rights in North Carolina.” Widow of Kelly M. Alexander, Sr. and mother of Kelly M. Alexander, Jr. (NC House) and Alfred L. Alexander (President of Alexander Funeral Home, Inc.). Ms. Alexander served as Executive Board Personal Secretary for two NAACP Branches. She served 31 years for her husband and 4 years for her son Kelly Jr. Margaret Alexander is a Charter Member of both the Charlotte and Queen City Chapter of National Women of Achievement, Inc. (NWOA).

Mary C. Curtis

Mary C. Curtis is an award-winning journalist, trainer and speaker. She has contributed to NBC, The Washington Post “She the People” blog, The Root, NPR, Women’s Media Center, MSNBC, and talks politics on WCCB-TV in Charlotte, NC. Her coverage specialty is the intersection of politics, culture and race. She serves on the advisory council of Women + Girls Research Alliance at UNC Charlotte, and is a former Journalism and Women Symposium board member.

Mary Klenz

Mary Klenz right, LWVCM Women’s Equality Day 2017

Mary Klenz has rock star status in the League of Women Voters for her service at all levels of the League, as well as for the successful advocacy conducted during her years as president of the local League, 1997-2001 and later as president of the LWVNC. She got started in the League because of her interest in education, advocating for equitable pupil assignment and adding the League’s voice in opposition to challenges of the Swann decision in federal court. She is still advocating on the League’s education committee. She was a co-founder of the nationally acclaimed Civics 101 program, now copied throughout the US. Ms. Klenz is most proud, however, of leading the four-year statewide, grassroots campaign to repeal the state tax on food. She and former League president Betty Seizinger traveled the state to gain support, urging folks to send in their grocery receipts with the tax circled and then drove to Raleigh often to tell the governor and legislators what citizens wanted. The campaign ended successfully with the final two percent repealed May 1, 1999.

Mary McCray

Mary McCray right, Derita Community Day at Rockwell Park 2018

Mary McCray was elected as an at-large member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education in 2011. A native of High Point, NC, she worked in education for 34 years, 24 of them in CMS before retiring in July 2011. She served seven years as the board’s chair. Under her watch on the board the county passed a $922 million bond referendum, re-established an equity committee, and approved a new student assignment plan. She has also been active in local, state and national teacher organizations, including the National Council of Urban Educators, the National Council of Teachers of Math, the National Council for Social Studies and the International Reading Association. She was the first full-time president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators (CMAE). This organization provided advocacy on behalf of students, parents, educators, and administrators (i.e., providing professional development, fostering education leadership on the local, state, and national level, ensuring effective educators in classrooms, providing research and conversation on current trends to community groups, working with elected leaders and providing scholarships to grow local public school educators).

Ms. McCray’s stated top priorities while serving on the school board were: to advocate for a living wage for non-licensed employees; professional pay for licensed employees; expand career and college readiness programs to the lower grades to ensure students have greater options and opportunities for success after graduation. She also wanted the overabundance of shuttle stops. Her community service included: elementary and middle school tutor, member of the following groups: Democratic Women, Black Women’s Caucus, Black Political Caucus, CM Retired School Personnel, charter member of 100 Black Women. She has received numerous awards and recognitions such as the Pearl Award for Education Service, a 2019 finalist for the Green – Garner Award for Outstanding School Board Member, the Maya Angelou Women Who Lead in Education Award, NCAE Presidential Award for Service in Public Education, just to name a few.

Mattie Marshall

Mattie Marshall seated center right, Thereasea C. Elder’s 90th Birthday Party 2017

Since the 1990s, Mattie Marshall has led her community of Washington Heights. She has taken on its challenges, worked to empower its people, and cared for its history. After the city won a grant to save endangered communities, Mattie Marshall was on the ground implementing ideas to suppress the drug trade and leading volunteers in picking up trash. She believed in her neighborhood. Washington Heights, she said, “can heal and prosper. That requires leadership by residents, not hired outsiders.” Solutions along these lines have included starting an afterschool program and summer camp for neighborhood youth and leading those same children in gleaning a harvested field of sweet potatoes. She has also been active in preserving neighborhood history, such as the Exclesior Club, and in helping older residents challenged by rising property values from gentrification. “Community,” she said, “is about that love, that peace, and knowing how to communicate.”

Maxine Eaves

Ms. Maxine H. Eaves is a retired healthcare provider whose community service is extensive and spans over more than 40 years. She was the first African American elected President of the League of Women Voters Charlotte Mecklenburg and was the visionary and co-sponsor of its Civics 101 course, which was franchised across the United States to teach citizens the inner workings of local government. Ms. Eaves was an original board member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Heritage Committee and the visionary behind CMBHC’s No Roadmap: Integrating the Charlotte Medical Community 1951-1965 that documents Charlotte’s unprecedented journey from “Separate But Unequal” to “Care For All.” Additionally, she served as President of the Northeast Community Organization/Plaza Eastway Partners, Inc. During her tenure she helped to secure and put in place the plans to build the Citiside development and shopping area, as well as worked to organize and bring to fruition the Eastway Park. Ms. Eaves has served on many boards for the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and has received numerous awards from the city, county, state, and civic organizations. She has been a steady source of strength, leadership, activism at all levels for her community, particularly for children and women.

Ophelia Garmon-Brown, MD

Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown is the Senior Vice President for Community Wellness & Education at Novant Health. She is a woman with many gifts and talents—a physician, a minister, a volunteer, and a leader—but most of all, Dr. Garmon-Brown is a caregiver and advocate for the health and well-being of Charlotte community members and beyond. She was the first African-American female resident in Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte where she began her internship and residency. After completing her residency, Dr. Garmon-Brown continued to work as a physician and moved into a leadership role in 1996 by taking the position of Medical Director of Nalle Clinic Urgent Care. In 2012, she became a Senior Vice President at Novant Health. She also returned to school in 2003 to obtain a Master’s degree in Divinity. A church minister and an advocate for the underserved, Dr. Garmon-Brown is a leader in the community, serving as Medical Director of Charlotte Community Health Clinic, a free clinic for the poor and uninsured. Beyond helping the underserved across the United States, Dr. Garmon-Brown frequently travels the globe as a missionary delivering free care to those in need, especially in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Guyana, and Jamaica. Additionally, she was the Co-Chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force. Dr. Garmon-Brown has received numerous awards for the impacts of her work in the health profession and service to the public. These include Charlotte Woman of the Year, Thurgood Marshall Award of the Year, and Bobcat Foundation’s My Hero Award.

Pat Cotham

Path Cotham standing center, Women in the Criminal Justice System forum at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church 2019

Pat Cotham is serving her third term as an at large representative on the Mecklenburg County Commission, the top vote getter each time she’s been on the ballot. She served her first year (2012) in elective office as chair. Charlotte Magazine named Ms. Cotham a “Charlottean of the Year” in 2018 for her unorthodox public service dispensing humanitarian help to refugees, aiding former inmates looking for work and helping the homeless find shelter. It is not unusual for her to be on Charlotte streets dispensing food and handwarmers on very cold nights. Active in the Democratic Party, she has led Democratic Women, the Uptown Forum and received the party’s “Grassroots Leader of the Year” in 2012.

Patsy Kinsey

Patsy Kinsey is the only woman in Mecklenburg County who has served on the Mecklenburg County Commission, Charlotte City Council and as mayor of the city. She was first elected to the Commission in 1990 and served as co-chair in her second term. In 1994 she began her lengthy service on the City Council, representing District 1 until 2017. Governance, transportation, housing and the environment are just a few of the leadership positions she held. She also served on the Board of North Carolina League of Municipalities and the National League of Cities’ Women in Municipal Government. Her long list of community activities includes chairing the board of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the Mental Health Association and president of the YWCA. In 2013 Kinsey was named Charlotte Woman of the Year.

The Honorable Rickye McKoy-Mitchell

Rickye McKoy-Mitchell right, NANBPWC, Inc. Women’s History Hall of Fame 2019

Rickye McKoy-Mitchell was appointed in 1998 to be a District Court Judge in Mecklenburg County and has won elections to retain the seat ever since. Judge McKoy-Mitchell served as an assistant district attorney for Mecklenburg County, a senior trial attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an attorney advisor for the Social Security Administration, and as a staff attorney for the Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont. Judge McKoy-Mitchell also serves or has served on a number of boards in the community. She currently serves on the Mecklenburg County Bar’s Special Committee on Diversity and is on the faculty for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She has also served in a leadership role for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the 26th Judicial District and Community Building Initiative Partnership Project, the Children’s Law Center, the Devonshire School Lawyer Partnership, and the YWCA, just to name a few. The Honorable Rickye McKoy-Mitchell has received numerous awards for her professional and community work including but not limited to the Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award, which celebrates persons in our community who have advanced the cause of diversity and equal opportunity, and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Sally Robinson

Sally Robinson center, Donation Reception Documenting a Lifetime of Community Leadership of Thereasea C. Elder 2017

Ms. Robinson is a native Charlottean and philanthropist who led fundraising campaigns for the Library and served on its Board of Trustees as well as that of the Library Foundation. She also helped found the Museum of the New South. Sally Robinson and her husband Russell Robinson endowed scholarships at Central Piedmont Community College, supported UNC Charlotte, and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Duke University.

Sarah Mingo Stevenson

Ms. Stevenson worked with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council and Community Relations Committee during her early career. She has also worked tirelessly in the community which includes over 40 years of service with the PTA; led the county-wide all black PTA Council into a merger with the all-white council in the late 1960’s and became president of the integrated Charlotte-Mecklenburg PTSA Council in the1970. In 1980, Ms. Stevenson was the first black female to be elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. She also co-founded the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum to give African Americans a place to discuss issues of the time and have their voices heard in the wider arenas of city, country, and state government. Ms. Stevenson has been the recipient of many awards over her lifetime. She is known as the type of leader that puts forth considerable effort to praise, encourage, and motivate other first.

In the 1950s, when she saw the poor condition of textbooks and uniforms in her children’s schools, Sarah Stevenson went to work on the problem. She organized a fundraising drive to pay for new band uniforms, then took on bigger issues as head of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PTA Council. She supported local PTAs within her organization as they integrated the previously all-white council of PTAs. In 1974, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools named Sarah Stevenson to the pupil reassignment committee, which made the decisions that implemented racial integration throughout the system. She ran for the School Board in 1980 and won, the first African American woman elected to any office in Mecklenburg County. Sarah Stevenson served two terms on the Board, making sure that as the county grew, racial integration was not weakened. In 1980, as a member of the Black Political Caucus, she helped found the “Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum,” which met to discuss issues of the day and to develop the next generation of leaders. She remains active in this group into her 90s.

Judge Shirley Fulton

Shriley L. Fulton center, Celebrating 50 Years of Civil Rights Advocacy 2018

The Honorable Shirley L. Fulton is perhaps the most recognizable figure in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, having spent over 20 years in the court as Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, Resident Superior Court Judge, District Court Judge, and Assistant District Attorney. She is a community leader widely known for her ability to build bridges between hostile groups. Judge Fudge Fulton served as chair of the Charlotte School of Law Advisory Board and Board of Directors, and the Mecklenburg Task Force and President of the Mecklenburg County Bar including numerous other boards and committees. Judge Fulton has received numerous awards including Judge of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. She was one of the first women to be named Senior Resident Superior Court Judge and was the first woman to serve in that position in Mecklenburg County, the state’s largest judicial district. Judge Fulton was also selected as a North Carolina Super Lawyer in 2006, 2008, and 2009 by Super Lawyers Magazine which names attorneys in each state who receive the highest point totals as chosen by their peers and through independent research. Judge Fulton continues her lifelong commitment to active leadership in community-based programs.

Sonja Gantt

Sonja Gantt is familiar to Charlotte audiences as a key personality and anchor at WCNC Channel 36, a position she held for more than 20 years. In 2016, Ms. Gantt was appointed executive director of CMS Public Schools Foundation, a schools’ support group which collects donations to supplement educational programs benefiting teachers and students. Ms. Gantt regularly lends her voice to important community affairs by serving as emcee in support of these causes.

Thelma Byers-Bailey

Thelma Byers-Bailey is the District 2 representative on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education (2013–Present). A native Charlottean, she graduated from West Charlotte High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in physics and math from Fisk University. She holds a law degree from St. Louis University Law School and master’s degree from the St. Louis Joint Degree Program. Ms. Byers-Bailey’s professional experience includes running her own general practice law firm, working with the Legal Services of Southern California, and serving as a law clerk in the legal department of Anheuser-Busch Company, Inc. She has been the president of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association and a member of the Democratic Party state Counsel of Review from the 12th Congressional District. Ms. Byers-Bailey also serves as a member of the Friendship CDC Board of Directors and the African American Community Fund’s Board of Directors. She has served as an after-school math tutor for 4th and 5th grade students, as well as a mentor for an 8th grader at Walter G. Byers School.

Vilma D. Leake

Vilma Leake front center, NANCBPWC, Inc. Charlotte Club 39th Founder’s Day 2016

Vilma Leake came to Charlotte with her husband, the influential AME Zion Bishop, George Leake. Ms. Leake joined the faculty at Independence High School in the 1970s to teach social studies. After the bishop died in 1981, she kept teaching, but stepped more into the public eye. She rose to the presidency of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators. In that role, she advocated for teachers in matters of salary, working conditions, and evaluation, even organizing a one-day march on Raleigh by educators in 1989 to demand higher pay. Ms. Leake was elected to represent District 2 on the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board in 1997. She defended the students and families of her district when proposed policies threatened to have a disparate impact on them. She and Board Chair Arthur Griffin held the county to its promises from the 1960s and saw to it that a tech high school (Phillip O. Berry Academy) was established. She served throughout the contentious years of the late 1990s and 2000s, following the legal challenges to race-based assignments in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Board Member Leake consistently advocated for policies that recognized the historic legacy of segregation and protected the gains made in the 60s and 70s. Ms. Leake was elected to represent District 2 on the County Commission in 2008. She stated that her priority in her work on the Commission would be protecting the most economically vulnerable residents of the County: children and the elderly. She has also addressed the needs of minority business owners through her Small Business Consortium.

Viola (Vi) Alexander Lyles

Vi Lyles center, Preserving the Legacy of Harvey B. Gantt 2019

Vi Lyles was elected as the 59th mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina in December 2017. After graduating from college, she built a life and family in Charlotte and dedicated herself to a career of public service. Vi worked for the City of Charlotte for almost 30 years: budget analyst, budget director and assistant city manager. In 2012, Vi ran for an at-large seat on the Charlotte City Council and was elected mayor pro tem by the Council in 2014.

Yvonne Mims Evans

Yvonne Mims Evans back right, Holiday Celebration Honoring Women Elected to Office 2017

Yvonne Mims Evans has been a “first” in the legal community of Mecklenburg County more than once. She was the first black female partner at a Charlotte Law Firm before she began her career on the bench and became the first female Chief District Judge. Ms. Evans had been elected a District Court Judge in 1992 and served two years as Chief District Judge before being appointed to a Superior Court position in 2003, thereafter winning every election until she retired in 2018. The North Carolina Bar Association named her one of its 2020 honorees for her “dedication to community, justice for all and the fair application of the rule of law.”


Portrait of Everett Blackmon

It has been my honor to witness the accomplishments of Charlotte heroines and document their achievements through the lens of history. It is my pleasure to present this gallery of Women Who Lead. — Everett Blackmon