Spotlight On Our Honoree: Lyles Carr ('87)

August 20, 2021

This year, LGW is proud to honor Lyles Carr (’87), Senior Vice President of The McCormick Group, with the 2021 LGW Leader of the Years award. His commitment, influence, and extraordinary leadership have made him a steady presence and force for change in both our region and LGW. For this spotlight feature, we connected with Lyles to learn more about his approach to building relationships, what motivated him in his formative years, and asked several LGW members to share their thoughts on our honoree.

You are known throughout the region as a gifted “connector,” who makes extraordinary things happen by connecting visionary leaders to important causes. What are some of your secrets for building relationships and steering people towards impactful civic engagement?

To start, we must be sincerely focused on the other person and not ourselves. Our basic question must be how can we help? It’s a process, though, of determining where they can both contribute and get a return either personally or professionally, because without that return it’s a challenge to sustain their involvement. That’s a function of listening, but also knowing enough about the organizations and leaders in our community to recognize the mutual benefits of the relationship. That’s where LGW has been so important for me. Through LGW’s members over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to better understand the issues confronting us in the region, and the organizations and leaders doing the important work of positively impacting these issues.

If you think back to your formative years, what (or who) inspired you to follow the principles of servant leadership, and volunteer your time over many decades to community impact and philanthropy? 

My father set the example with his substantial support for numerous organizations helping inner city kids secure quality educational opportunities and part-time and summer jobs. Gordon Cosby, the founder of the Church of the Savior, first introduced me to the idea of servant leadership, however. As did Jim Rouse and Bob Linowes (Founder), who each went about the business of community building largely out of the limelight, seeking no recognition and, in fact, striving to avoid it. Above all is my Heavenly Father, who seems to put me in places where I can see a way to help. I’m just following where He leads.

What is the one memory up until now that stands out most to you during your 30+ years of engagement with LGW?

My favorite among many is the experience of my classmate, Myra Peabody Gossens (’87), on one of our program days dealing with issues of poverty. Her experiential learning assignment put her in the shoes of a non-English-speaking resident of Anacostia who was sent to apply for a job in Alexandria. She took public transportation to apply for a housekeeping position at the Radisson Hotel at the intersection of Beauregard Street and Seminary Road in Alexandria. With a toddler at home and no available childcare when she had to leave at 6:00 am to be on time for her interview, she had to ask her partner to babysit. Even with Metro supervisors stationed at transfer points along the route, it took Myra three hours to get to the property, only to find when she arrived that the applications were only in English and there was no one to help with translating. Myra calculated that she would have had to work the first three hours of each shift just to pay for her transportation. Myra still hasn’t stopped talking about the inequity of it.

LGW members reflect on Lyles:

Lyles’ bold vision of LGW as a force for good in our community has been realized by the extraordinary, purpose-driven LGW network that he has helped create; his heart-felt and persuasive recommendation has convinced so many people in our region to participate in the Signature Program. Lyles has been a singular champion for LGW and our region and we are so much the better for his impact.” – Rachel Kronowitz (’15)

“The indomitable Lyles Carr is a stalwart of Leadership Greater Washington. As the exemplar of the founders’ aspirations, Lyles deploys his infinite network to advance this region and enhance the quality of life for DMV residents. In this town where many times philanthropic engagement is utilized to achieve social status, Lyles stands out as an authentic “do gooder”. Lyles can always be counted on to help, simply because there is a need. He has a huge heart and I love him for that.” Artis Hampshire-Cowan (’89)

“Lyles is the quintessential community connector. As a friend, mentor, and thought partner, his positive influence on others is profound. His acclaimed service in the philanthropic community is exceptional. I am thrilled that Lyles will receive LGW’s highest honor on October 12.” – Myra Peabody Gossens (’87)

Lyles is one of the most genuine, giving, and effective leaders I have the honor of knowing– I am grateful to have him in my inner circle and we are fortunate to have him sharing his time and talents in our region!” – Mary-Claire Burick (’15)

Lyles is a humble servant leader, always putting his friends and community first. The D.C. region has benefited greatly from his active engagement.” Kathy Albarado (’20)  

Join us for the Celebration of Leadership on October 12 as we honor Lyles with the 2021 Leader of the Years award! Tickets and tables available here.

Spotlight On Our Honoree: Lyles Carr ('87)