North Wilkes High School

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Keela Lyon: Class of 1999

keela lyon - class of 1999

Q: Year graduated from North Wilkes:

A:  1999


Q: List any education/degrees beyond high school:

A: BA Public Relations, School of Journalism, UNC-Chapel Hill, BA Management & Society, College of Arts & Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill


Q: List Professional/Career Experience and why you chose your career path:

A: Currently the Senior Executive Director of Development & Communications for UNC Children's Hospital.

Previous positions:  Associate Director of Development, UNC Children's; Director of Special Events, UNC Children's; Senior Events Coordinator, University Events, UNC-Chapel Hill; Special Events Coordinator, University Events, UNC-Chapel Hill.

I have been an employee of UNC for 16 proud years.I chose to attend UNC-Chapel Hill because I had always wanted to be an alum of one of the state's most prestigious Universities.  Upon entering UNC I did not know what I wanted to do as a career.  With UNC's broad curriculum, I was able to explore different interests while still getting the credits necessary to complete my degree.  After changing my major two or three times, I settled in on Public Relations in the School of Journalism.  I completed three internships during my college career in different PR fields to see which I liked best.  During a video assignment for class, I was approached by an employee at UNC whom I had produced a video, wanting to know if I was interested in a job at the University.  I applied and was given the chance to be a Special Events Coordinator in University Events.  As an event coordinator I planned, managed and executed events for the University, ranging from commencement exercises, groundbreakings and dedications, to the Chancellor's entertaining at football and basketball games.  I was soon promoted to Senior Events Coordinator in 2005 and continued my career at University Events until 2010.  In 2010 I chose to move within UNC and pursue an events career at UNC Children's Hospital.  This opportunity allowed me to keep doing what I knew I could do well - events - but also add a fundraising component - with a fundraising goal of over $800,000 a year.  After 5 years of building a comprehensive events program to help support our children's hospital, I decided to move into full-time fundraising as Associate Director of Development.   In this role, I identified, cultivated, solicited and stewarded donors in support of services and programs at UNC Children's.  In 2018 I was given the opportunity to become the Senior Executive Director of Development and Communications at UNC Children's.  In this role, I provide oversight to a team of eight and ensure that our priorities focus on securing resources for UNC Children's and the patients and families we serve. 

My career has been focused on serving and bettering the state of North Carolina and its citizens.  I am proud to work for UNC Children's where our mission is to promote the health of all children through compassionate family-centered care, tireless advocacy, scientific discovery, and education of future leaders.  We do this all regardless of a families ability to pay.  As the state's hospital that is our responsibility.  I am proud to continue to serve the state of North Carolina and the children and their families.


Q: If you could go back and give yourself advice as a high school student, what advice would you give and why. What advice would you give to high school students today?

A: Don't sweat the small stuff and really soak in the knowledge.  Studying for tests and studying to learn are two different things.


Q: How has your NWHS education and experiences positively impacted your life?

A:  NWHS is a relatively small school in comparison to many schools throughout the state.  While that can be seen as a disadvantage from the outsider, I think it is an advantage for the students that attend.  Having smaller classes, means more one on one time, more focused learning, and a larger investment that the educators take in your learning process.  The school, the community, your family are all invested in helping mold you into the most productive YOU that you can be - preparing you to take on the world on your own, but with a safety net of supporters always there to help when needed.