Each year, the United Way Women”s Leadership Council in Gwinnett honors four outstanding women for their exemplary involvement, commitment and leadership in our community. Founded in 1999, the United Way Leadership Council was created to mobilize women to become powerful philanthropists through leadership, fundraising and advocacy.
This year”s honorees certainly meet that measure – four who give tirelessly of their time and talents, channel their passion and ideas into action, serve as an inspiration to their peers and ultimately, make Gwinnett a better place to live for their neighbors. The 2010 Legacy Awards recipients include: for treasure – Marsha Anderson Bomar; for talent – Renee Byrd-Lewis; for time – Pam Kramer, and for the Anna Shackelford Legacy Award – Barbara King.
“Service opens your mind to different ways of thinking.”
Renee Byrd-Lewis” perspective on community service was initially shaped by her experiences almost 25 years ago while a touring cast member in Up with People.
“Through service activities in the eight countries we visited, I discovered what made each region unique and gained a clearer understanding of its politics, history, culture, geography, religions and economics,” she explains. “Community service is one way to learn compassion and understanding for others. It opens your mind to different ways of thinking and can challenge your values and belief systems.”
That compassion and understanding of others is still very much in evidence today from Byrd-Lewis, this year”s United Way Legacy Award winner for talent.
As community relations director for Cisco, Byrd-Lewis works to improve quality of life and business matters in the region and also applies her talent for service and leadership as a volunteer in many organizations. Nominator Carole Boyce says, “Renee possesses a positive attitude that energizes everyone around her to complete the tasks at hand…She is not afraid to think creatively with untried solutions and excites others with her vision and enthusiasm.”
Byrd-Lewis has lent her time to a host of organizations, including the boards of the Georgia Gwinnett College Foundation, the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, the J.M. Tull YMCA, and Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, among others. As a member of the steering committee and the board for Leadership Gwinnett, she was instrumental in designing a new model to meet the changing needs of the community.
Finding her inspiration among her peers, Byrd-Lewis is quick to applaud the efforts of others. “We are so fortunate in Gwinnett to have exceptional women who”ve given selflessly for the betterment of the community and its citizens. As I”ve witnessed their investments of time, talent and treasure impact the lives of others, they”ve become mentors for me – though they may not even know.”
Her involvement in so many varied business, civic and nonprofit concerns provides Byrd-Lewis real insight into the strength of our community. “Without a doubt, the single most important attribute Gwinnett possesses is our ability to “come together” around common causes and issues,” she believes. “We have demonstrated time and again the ability to recognize a problem, develop a strategy to address it and successfully execute a plan – and this doesn”t happen by accident. The key ingredient to our success is the ability to pull key stakeholders from all sectors to the table, including nonprofit, education, government and business.”
Marsha Anderson Bomar
“Support one another and demonstrate love to your fellow man.”