Kathy Izard, an award-winning author, speaker, and philanthropist who has helped bring transformation to Charlotte in homelessness, housing, and mental health, has been named the 2022 Charlotte Woman of the Year. This prestigious award, now in its 67th year, is given for exceptional community service and exemplary leadership. Kathy always felt supported by her father, who believed she and her sisters could change the world. He used to tell her, “You can do Anything. Really, Anything.” This statement left an imprint on Kathy.
In 2007 Kathy found her calling to help those experiencing homelessness when she invited Denver Moore, a man who previously experienced long-term homelessness and best-selling co-author of Same Kind of Different As Me, to come to Charlotte. While giving Denver a tour of what was then Urban Ministry Center and now Roof Above’s Day Services Center, he asked her simply, “Where are the beds?” That question changed the trajectory of Kathy’s life. She left her job as a graphic designer in pursuit of helping Roof Above start a Housing First program and raise funds to build Moore Place, a 120-unit apartment community to provide housing for people who had been homeless for years. In 2008, Kathy led the organization’s capital campaign to raise $10 million amidst an economic recession and to open the doors of Moore Place, the first Housing First apartment community in Charlotte, a philosophy that at the time represented a paradigm shift. From there, Kathy published a memoir about the experience of opening Moore Place called The Hundred Story Home. In her book, Kathy shares her own processing of her mother’s struggle with bipolar disorder, humanizing both homelessness and severe mental illness. The memoir has been featured on NPR and The Today Show, inspiring people to be change-makers in their communities. In 2019, she released A Good Night for Mr. Coleman, a children’s book written to encourage kids to dream big and do good. Kathy’s third book, The Last Ordinary Hour, was written about her husband’s struggle with rare diseases to help others facing loss and uncertainty in their lives. “Kathy Izard is a force.
In a world that is constantly finding ways to emphasize difference, she continues to create connections rooted in shared humanity. The ripple effects of those shared connections have been far-reaching in our community,” Liz Clasen-Kelly, Roof Above CEO. Kathy was the development chair for the campaign to create HopeWay, Charlotte’s first nonprofit residential mental health treatment center. She has collectively helped raise over $75 million for homelessness and mental health causes. In addition to her board service for Roof Above and Hopeway, Kathy has served on the Crossnore Communities for Children board, supporting NC’s most vulnerable children in the foster care system. Through Kathy’s writing and new venture, Women | Faith & Story workshops and retreats, she wants to inspire others to have the courage to listen to what’s calling them—whatever it is, big or small. She calls it “Trust the Whisper.” A community meeting Kathy organized a few years ago inspired three local women to create Furnish for Good in 2019, a non-profit that provides home items for our neighbors. (https://furnishforgood.org) Kathy received a Christopher Award, the Bank of America Neighborhood Hero Award, and the NC Housing Volunteer of the Year Award. She was recognized as a William J. Clinton Distinguished Guest Lecturer. Kathy is married to Charlie and is the proud mom to four daughters and one grandson.
About Charlotte Woman of the Year
The Charlotte Woman of the Year was established in 1955 to recognize an individual woman who has distinguished herself through civic leadership and service in the Charlotte Mecklenburg community. The recipient of the Charlotte Woman of the Year award epitomizes the values for which the Charlotte Woman of the Year organization stands and represents the best of who we are as women and as leaders. Past Charlotte Women of the Year honorees vote on nominations to choose each year’s winner.