Some gauge power by money or influence. This list was compiled with stature in mind. Women with high positions within their respective fields received the most consideration, because they have the potential to benefit the community most.
Ten women who live or work in Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville and eastern Lincoln County were put into five categories: business, education, faith/nonprofits, government and miscellaneous.
• Karen Bentley – Bentley has represented the Lake Norman region on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioner since 1998. In recent years, she advocated for reforming the faulty property revaluation system and allowing public swimming on Lake Norman. The Huntersville resident announced last month that she will not run for a fifth term on the commission, but she didn’t rule out politics in the future.
• Dawn Blobaum – Blobaum went from being an award-winning architect to an award-winning assistant town manager for the Town of Davidson. The N.C. City & County Management Association named her Assistant Town Manager of the Year in 2011. Last year, 96 percent of citizens rated the town’s quality of life as good or excellent in a survey.
• Beth Cashion – Cashion was the leading vote-getter among Davidson candidates running for town commissioner on Nov. 5. The victory was notable considering the incumbents campaigned as a bloc and received an endorsement from Mayor John Woods. Cashion has previously served in leadership roles with the Ada Jenkins Center, Davidson Community Players, Davidson Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization and Lake Norman YMCA.
• Martha Lide – Lide, of Denver, received a pay raise in July – her salary grew to $105,643 – for taking over as interim county manager following George Wood’s retirement in June. She managed the county until Tracy Jackson took office in September. Prior to joining Lincoln County, she worked for the Centralina Council of Governments, a group that promotes regionalism in the Charlotte area.
• Sarah McAulay – McAulay has been Lake Norman power player since the 1970s. The Huntersville resident has served as mayor from 1979 to 1991, as well as commissioner from 2001 to present. She was re-elected Nov. 5 for another two-year term on the commission. She chairs the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, a group that plans road projects in Iredell, Mecklenburg and Union counties.
• Lisa Qualls – Qualls has become the unofficial financial specialist on the Mooresville Town Board of Commissioners, given her banking background. She manages Cunningham & Company’s Mooresville branch. She also won the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce’s Sara Haire Tice Women in Leadership Award in January. Qualls returns to the town commission for a second term after running unopposed in the November election.
• Lynette Rinker – We’ll be hearing a lot about Rinker in the next year, since she recently announced plans to campaign for the District 98 seat in the N.C. House. The Cornelius resident was elected as a town commissioner in 2009 and 2011. She was appointed mayor in January 2013, after Jeff Tarte left for the N.C. Senate. Rinker successfully advocated for $20 million in bonds that will upgrade roads, recreation and the town center. She also sat beside N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker on a bus tour of economic development opportunities in Cornelius.
• Jill Swain – Swain enters her fourth term as mayor of Huntersville after narrowly defeating former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett by less than three dozen votes in the Nov. 5 election. But her leadership extends well beyond Lake Norman’s largest town. She serves as vice chair of the N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition’s executive committee and has traveled overseas to recruit Chinese industries to North Carolina.
• Sara Haire Tice – Nearly 13,000 people cast write-in votes for the Iredell County board of commissioners race in November 2012 because of Tice. The Mooresville resident mounted a write-in campaign that tallied 7 percent of the vote, not enough to return to the board she served from 1990 to 2008. The Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce named its Women in Business Award after her.
• Connie Wessner – Wessner works as director of academic advising and community-based learning at Community School of Davidson, but she’s also been really involved in local affairs since moving to Davidson about 15 years ago. She’s served on the Davidson Board of Commissioners, Davidson Planning Board, Davidson Housing Coalition and Davidson Lands Conservancy.
• Anna Bonham – Bonham represents District 7 on the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education, which includes schools like Lake Norman High, Brawley Middle and Mount Mourne IB. The Mooresville resident is the only woman on the five-person school board, which in recent years has worked to expand the International Baccalaureate program through southern Iredell County. She works as an investment representative for Intercarolina Financial Services.
• Samantha Campbell – Campbell became principal at East Lincoln High School in March. She’s the only woman serving as high school principal in Lincoln County Schools. She told Denver Weekly that she hopes East Lincoln becomes as successful in academics as it is in sports. East Lincoln’s football and girls’ cross county teams have won state championships in recent years.
• Sonja Curry – Nationally, Sonja Curry is known for cheering on her sons, Seth and Stephen Curry, at Duke and Davidson college basketball games. Around these parts, we know her as the director of Christian Montessori School at Lake Norman. She and her husband, Dell Curry, founded the Huntersville school in 1995. The American Montessori Society recently released a video of the Curry family promoting the value of Montessori-centered instruction.
• Rhonda Lennon – The Nov. 5 election served not only as a referendum for the public’s confidence in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, but also for north Mecklenburg’s confidence in District 1 Board of Education representative Rhonda Lennon. The Huntersville resident won a second term, partly because she aligned herself with the $290 million school bond referendum, which won overwhelming support. Grand Oak Elementary School opened in Huntersville during Lennon’s tenure.
• Karen Hart – Hart has not only chaired the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education, but she’s also served on the board of directors for the N.C. School Boards Association. She chose not to run for re-election in November after more than two decades on the school board. Perhaps her greatest achievement was hiring Mark Edwards, reigning National Superintendent of the Year.
• Laura Rosenbach – Rosenbach serves as principal of one of the largest schools in North Carolina. She joined Hough High over the summer, after three years as principal of Bradley Middle as well as assistant principal stints at Vance and Mallard Creek high schools. Rosenbach told The Herald Weekly in July that she hopes to maintain the Cornelius school’s high graduation rate as well as reach the specific needs of struggling students.
• Shannon Stein – Stein works as managing director of Lake Norman Charter. The Huntersville school finished the 2012-13 school year as North Carolina’s second largest charter school in terms of enrollment, trailing Pine Lake Preparatory by just five students. Under Stein’s leadership, the school opened a $3 million addition this fall – a remarkable feat considering the school did not need a bond referendum or help from county commissioners.
• Carol Quillen – Quillen presides as president of Davidson College, one of the region’s largest employers and nation’s best private colleges. She joined the college in 2011. During her tenure, the college received a $25 million gift from an alum, a $45 million grant from the Duke Endowment and an invitation to join the much more competitive Atlantic 10 athletic conference. The future looks bright for the Wildcats.
• Carrie Tulbert – As principal of Mooresville Middle School, Tulbert has become somewhat of a recognizable face when it comes to the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital learning efforts. When national media, like The New York Times, come to Mooresville to report on the school district’s digital learning program, they tend to report from Tulbert’s school. That’s exactly where Obama visited in June to announce technology initiatives. He even gave her a shout-out during his speech.
• Boen Nutting – Nutting enters her third year at Mount Mourne IB School in Mooresville, which is consistently the Lake Norman region’s highest performing school. Mount Mourne’s success inspired Iredell-Statesville Schools to expand its International Baccalaureate program to the high school level. Prior to joining Mount Mourne, Nutting was principal at Lake Norman Elementary and an administrator with the Mooresville Graded School District.
• Stacey Anderson – Anderson works as a senior vice president and strategic planning manager for Wells Fargo and chairs the United Way of Central Carolinas Mooresville/Lake Norman office. She was elected to the fifth seat on the Davidson Board of Town Commissioners, edging out incumbent Connie Wessner by 55 votes. She’s also served as on the PTA of Davidson Elementary and Hough High.
• Linda Beck – Beck has put more of a local face on the United Way of Central Carolinas. The Huntersville resident works as executive director for the Mooresville/Lake Norman office in Mooresville, which doles out donations to nonprofits such as the Ada Jenkins Center, Mooresville Soup Kitchen and Mooresville/Lake Norman Christian Mission. Beck has a marketing mind, organizing donor appreciation events like “Shoot for the Moon” in which former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham inspired attendees.
• Jan Brittain – Brittain’s connection to God could make her the most powerful woman on the list. She serves as senior pastor at Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Mooresville, which may have largest Lake Norman-area congregation led by a woman. Prior to joining Williamson’s Chapel, Brittain led a congregation of more than 2,000 in Greensboro.
• Hillary Brodofsky – Earlier this year, Brodofsky became the executive director for Sally’s YMCA in eastern Lincoln County. She promoted the nonprofit’s offerings, particularly the Y-readers literacy program, to U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry during an August visit. She told him that the 2-year-old YMCA branch would grow into a cornerstone of the community. Prior to her arrival in Lincoln County, Brodofsky was executive director for Quillen seven years at the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.
• Valerie Chamberlain – More than 4,000 families depend on Chamberlain’s nonprofit, the Mooresville/Lake Norman Christian Mission. The organization offers crisis assistance, job skills training, a food pantry and a free store. Chamberlain has built solid connections to the Mooresville Graded School District and other stakeholders to meet community needs.
• Robin Emmons – The Huntersville resident runs Sow Much Good, a Charlotte nonprofit that ensures low-income people have access to healthy food. Her advocacy of “food justice” has earned her the moniker of neighborhood hero from People Magazine and EBONY Magazine. In the fall, cable news channel CNN named Emmons one of its Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013.
• Georgia Krueger – The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce recognized Krueger with a lifetime achievement award during its Champions of Diversity breakfast in September. Krueger serves as executive director of the region’s most well-known charity, the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson. It’s among the most successful nonprofits at conveying its needs to the business community.
• Ellen Patterson – Patterson serves as president of the Mooresville Artist Guild, a group that dates back to the 1960s. The guild is trying to renovate the old train depot it’s used since 1978, so that it can offer more classes and showcase more artwork. Among the most unique ways to raise money has been a partnership with Mooresville-based JR Motorsports, in which proceeds from a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan-generated mosaic art project goes to the guild.
• Celeste Renaldo – Renaldo knows money. The Denver resident works as a financial consultant for Davidson Wealth Management, with career experience in banking, health care and real estate. But she also knows service. She is the president-elect of the Denver/Lake Norman Rotary Club, which organizes the popular Denver Days Festival. The group also assists with global causes, like eradicating polio.
• Kathy Vinzant – Vinzant works as executive director of the United Way of Lincoln County, a group that supports nonprofits such as Special Olympics of Lincoln County and Sally’s YMCA in Denver. Before her current post, the Denver resident worked at the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse, as well as volunteered with the East Lincoln Betterment Association and Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.
• Sally Ashworth – Ashworth serves as executive director of Visit Lake Norman, the convention and visitors bureau for Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. She serves on state tourism groups, such as N.C. Department of Commerce’s Travel & Tourism Division. She recently received the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s LAKE award, given to Leadership Lake Norman graduates whose careers greatly affect the community.
• Maureen Ausura – Ausura serves on the executive team for Lowe’s, a Fortune 100 company based in Mooresville. As chief human resources officer, Ausura makes decisions that affect Lowe’s employees across the globe. She joined the home retailer in 2005 after human resources roles with Giant Eagle Supermarkets and Campbell Soup Company.
• Marcia Avedon – Avedon serves as senior vice president for human resources and communications for Ingersoll Rand in Davidson. Aside from working on the executive team of one of Lake Norman’s largest employers, she serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Central Carolinas and the board for the UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business. In 2012, she was named a Women Worth Watching.
• Tanya Blackmon – Blackmon serves as president of Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, which celebrated the completion of a 15-bed expansion project in September 2012. In October, Business Today recognized Blackmon as its ninth annual Top Women in Business Awards. Modern Healthcare magazine named her one of the Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare last year.
• Kelly Daspit – Daspit works as director of planning and community relations at Statesville-based Iredell Health System, which recently opened office space in Mooresville. The Mooresville resident spent the past year serving as chairwoman for the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce. In that role, she advocated the importance of public relations for the chamber and its member businesses.
• Lori Jackson – Jerry and Lori Jackson own Cornelius-based Ivester Jackson, which specializes in luxury real estate in high-end Lake Norman communities like The Peninsula in Cornelius, The Point in Mooresville and River Run Country Club in Davidson. Jackson has racked up more than $400 million in real estate sales, making her one of Southeast’s top Realtors.
• Abigail Jennings – Jennings works as president of Lake Norman Realty, which has offices in Cornelius, Davidson, Denver and Mooresville. The 35-year-old company’s luxury home division claimed some of lake’s largest sales, including $4.4 million and $7.5 million homes. The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce named Jennings its Business Person of the Year. She is one of the founders of Pioneer Springs Community School, which will operate as a charter school beginning in 2014-15.
• Wendy Moran – Moran works as business center manager for the Triangle branch of People’s Bank in Denver. The Huntersville resident has served the past year as chairwoman for the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors. She endorsed bond referendums on the Nov. 5 ballot that would benefit education in the region and redevelopment in Cornelius. In October, Business Today recognized Moran at its ninth annual Top Women in Business Awards.
• Kathleen Rose – Rose serves as president and CEO of Rose & Associates Southeast and managing partner of Urban Organic I, which developed South Main Square in downtown Davidson. The development features a live-work-shop concept with condos, shops and restaurants. She also founded PiES, which stands for Project for Innovation, Energy & Sustainability, an incubator for environmentally friendly businesses.
• Robin Smith-Salzman – Smith-Salzman is owner and marketing director for Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Cornelius. She and her husband, Jack, recently opened a new dealership, Gastonia, Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. The Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina named her W.I.S.H. (Women Inspiring Strength and Hope) Society Woman of the Year, after she raised enough money to grant wishes for three children facing life-threatening issues.
• Kim Atkins – Atkins is not only the First Lady of Mooresville (she’s the wife of Mayor Miles Atkins), but she’s also the executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission. The group promotes downtown events, like parades, art crawls and festivals, as well as stimulates local shopping through its Downtownies incentive campaign. Atkins has advocated the need for long-term planning of downtown, particularly more parking.
• Kelley Earnhardt Miller – Miller co-owns Mooresville-based JR Motorsports with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Rick Hendrick. She also works as vice president and general manager for the NASCAR Nationwide Series team and oversees her brother’s business interests. She serves on leadership boards for Blueharbor Bank and Iredell Memorial Hospital, as well as the N.C. Motorsports Council.
• Erika Erlenbach – Erlenbach works a lawyer with McIntosh Law Firm, but she has found time to serve in leadership roles on the Rotary Club of North Mecklenburg, United Way of Central Carolinas Mooresville-Lake Norman office and the Executive Women of Lake Norman. Business Today honored Erlenbach at its 8th Annual Women in Business reception last year. And NC Lawyers Weekly recognized her as an Emerging Legal Leader in 2011.
• Lynne Gingras – Gingras manages the Andre Christine Gallery, one of the best, if not the best, fine art galleries in the Lake Norman area. Outside the Mooresville gallery, you can find large-scale sculptures by her son, Dana. In recent years, the gallery has opened its space to art classes led by some of the area’s best artists, like Sue Zylak.
• Jeanne Miller – Davidson Mayor John Woods recently recognized the town’s police chief for her 40-year anniversary working in law enforcement. Miller began her career in Detroit. She was chief of the police department in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, when Dorothy Moses Schulz’s featured her in her 2004 book, “Breaking the Brass Ceiling: Women Police Chiefs and Their Paths to the Top.” According to Schulz, Miller was the subject of a David Letterman Top 10 list, in which the late night host joked about her breaking the glass ceiling.
• Cristen Morgan – Morgan founded Lake Norman Financial Group in Cornelius. She serves as president of Executive Women of Lake Norman, a networking group for professional women. She’s also served as president of the North Mecklenburg Rotary Club and as a member of the board of directors for the LKN Healthcare Forum, a nonprofit committed to improving quality of life by addressing community needs from birth to death.
• Danica Patrick – A USA Today story revealed that Patrick stays with her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in a Mooresville home. The pair filmed a Colt Ford music video in town. Patrick just finished her rookie season in the NACAR Sprint Cup series, finishing 27th in points with one top-10 finish. She remains one of racing’s most popular drivers.
• Michele Savage – Savage enters hers fourth year as women’s basketball coach at Davidson College. Last season, the Northwestern alum led the team to its second consecutive 20-win season and a trip to the Women’s NIT. She won Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2011-12. Can she be as successful as her men’s basketball coaching counterpart, Bob McKillop? Time will tell.
• Sharon Simpson – Simpson’s career has spanned more than 30 years in magazine publishing, many of them at Lake Norman Currents, a glossy, high-quality magazine that covers the area well. She’s held leadership roles with the Rotary Club of North Mecklenburg and Lake Norman YMCA.
• Peggy Tschudin – Tschudin serves as president of the East Lincoln Betterment Association, a group that’s leading the charge in building a cohesive community and culture for eastern Lincoln County. Beautifying N.C. 16 could be the next focus for her organization, she said during a Nov. 7 town hall meeting at St. Peter By-The-Lake Episcopal Church in Denver. The group organizes the area’s Christmas Parade.