The Women Who Inspire Us. Five CLT Women on The Women Who Came Before Them.

This article is sponsored by Charlotte Radiology Breast Services.

Women are amazing, resilient, brilliant and bold–but you already knew all of that. March is Women’s History Month. In honor of the women who have come before us and those who are currently shaping the future, we asked some of Charlotte’s leaders about the women who inspire them.

We know there are many incredible and inspiring women who have impacted our lives. Please add your personal heroes in the COMMENTS section below, so all can see and support.

Kris Reid, Executive Director with the Piedmont Culinary Guild

I would have to say my Nana–she immigrated here from England after meeting my Tata in a bomb shelter during a Nazi Blitz in London. My Tata’s family was Mexican, and my Nana learned to cook like them, while still maintaining some English classics. To leave her country to come to America and begin a new life as a young woman was ballsy. But she was. She had bigger huevos than most men I know.

Besides my Nana, I am inspired by my daughter Lillianna Lovelle Reid-Lafionatis. She has been a constant source of inspiration the last 13 years of my life. During that period, I was building my reputation as a culinarian in Charlotte, as well as building Piedmont Culinary Guild. I have made a lot of difficult and uncomfortable decisions professionally to be with my daughter as much as possible, leaving an executive chef role and then a director of operations role to become a free lance contractor to make myself more available to her. I am grateful for the push she gave me in my career, even though she has no idea she was doing that. 

Raquel Lynch, Chief Program Officer for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont

Dolores Huerta: At the age of 88, she is still an active labor and human rights activist who is best known for started the National Farmerworkers Association (now the United Farm Workers) with Cesar Chavez. She is the originator of the movement that has so many of us chanting “Sí, se puede.”

Celia Cruz She was known for most of her career for her talent and tireless commitment to music, her family and the public. She inspired so many artists and was admired worldwide, and she was the first Afro-Latinx who I saw others respect. She was a diva, an utmost professional and wore her wigs and gowns unapologetically.

Isabel Allende: is an inspiriting writer whose penmanship allowed me to see a vivid illustration of love and courage through her books. As a teenager, The House of The Spirits transformed the way I saw the world. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Isabel Allende here in Charlotte. Ms. Allende was generous with me, and she embraced me as we shared our worries for Venezuelan politics at the time, which have now become a reality.

Vi Lyles, Mayor of Charlotte

Without a doubt, the singular most influential woman in my life, has to be my mother, Mary Clarkson Taylor. She was a teacher who never stopped providing me with life lessons. I was one of six children, the only girl, and that helped create a special bond between us. She taught me to be a strong, independent thinker who always values others and strives to do what is best for the community. When I was homesick and considered leaving school at Queens University, my mother said it was the wrong decision. She told me, “we do not quit” once we’ve started something. I decided to finish at Queens and continue to grad school at UNC-Chapel Hill. I don’t know where I’d be today without my mother, but I’m sure it would not be in the Mayor’s Office at the City of Charlotte.

Julie Woodside, MD, Physician with OrthoCarolina

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from a US medical school in 1849 and continued to support female medical education after her graduation. She laid the groundwork and broke down walls to enable all of us to be able to pursue our dreams. As an Orthopaedic Surgeon, there are only roughly 10% women in the field. There are many programs and practices that still have no female surgeons employed. I am lucky that my mentors, male and female, throughout the years have been supportive and encouraging to me reaching and surpassing my goals!

Molly Grantham, author and Emmy-award winning anchor and investigative reporter with WBTV

My grandmother, Lucy Hartman, influences me in ways I can only hope her spirit somewhere, somehow recognizes. She was my mom’s mom and she and I, and now my daughter, share a middle name. She loved crossword puzzles, old photographs, her grandchildren and being generous. She gave herself in all things, was always prepared, and resourceful. Her parents were hit by The Great Recession; maybe that’s why she was the most grateful woman I knew? I think of her often. In college I had to write an essay on a woman I respected — she was the first person who came to mind. Here twenty years later you ask about a woman who influences me and though she has been gone many years now, her matter-of-fact voice instantly pops in my head. She was the matriarch of our family, and in charge of everything while appearing to never ask for anything. I’m proud and lucky she’s a part of my history.

This series, brought to you by Charlotte Radiology Breast Centers, highlights the Charlotte Women making our community the vibrant, growing, exciting place they’ve been calling home for 50 years. At Charlotte Radiology, they know women, seeing over 100,000 women a year for their breast health needs. The professionals at Charlotte Radiology believe the key to beating and detecting breast cancer early is annual mammograms starting at age 40.