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Charlotte Woman of the Year | Vi Lyles, 2003


Each year the Charlotte Woman of the Year organization awards a local woman who exemplifies philanthropy, advocacy and community. Meet 2003 Charlotte Woman of the Year, Vi Lyles. 

Vi Lyles, Charlotte Woman of the Year 2003What empowers you to serve the Charlotte community?

The people of Charlotte empower me. They motivate me to build a city in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

What are ways we can support Women entrepreneurs?

We as women must think of ourselves as a family. When we think of ourselves as a family we encourage each other, and we support each other financially and emotionally. We need to create support systems for women entrepreneurs, and that includes critiquing and strengthening each other.

Working for the city of Charlotte for over 30 years what changes have you seen in its arts and culture scene?

When I started with the city, the Afro-American Culture Center was housed in a church on 7th Street. We only had one museum on Randolph Road. The Levine Center for the Arts wasn’t even a thought. We didn’t respect public art. The topiary sculpture that once greeted visitors at the Charlotte Coliseum on Tyvola Road was ridiculed and dubbed Gumby. Now, people proudly take pictures in front of the Firebird, playfully dubbed Disco Chicken. City trash cans, bridges and underpasses have public art. Our arts and culture scene continues to grow.

What does it mean to you to be the recipient of the 2003 Charlotte Woman of the Year award?

It was one of my proudest moments to have the community recognize my civic contributions. My work has always been grounded in social justice. I have worked to create a community where people are able to live, work and raise family. To be recognized for those efforts inspired me to work harder for the people of Charlotte.

About Vi Lyles
Vi Lyles is a two-term City Council member and the current Mayor Pro-Tem. Vi’s career with the city spans more than 30 years. She is the former Assistant City Manager and Budget Director, Vi has a thorough understanding of Charlotte’s local government and its impact on its citizenry and businesses. She has spent her career creating programs to help the city prosper while also improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.  

This year's Charlotte Women of the Year are Jill Dinwiddie and Susan Patterson. A Woman's Place explores the evolving role of women in the New South and honors women's civic leadership and service in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. This year's program "Civic Activism Now" features a panel discussion moderated by Vi Lyles, 2003 Woman of the Year and Charlotte City Council Member. Panelists Janet Cowell, North Carolina State Treasurer, Janeen Bryant, Regional Director, Leadership for Educational Equity and amalia deloney, Senior Program Officer, Media Democracy Fund; will examine the evolution of civic activism including new tactics, technologies and current movements that are making an impact on our society today.