Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award

“The Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award recognizes
bold, persistent, and forward-thinking women leaders”

The Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award was instituted in 2012 to recognize outstanding women leaders in East Tennessee. We are honored to hear about the women who Ignite and inspire you.

Award Criteria

The recipient will be a woman who, like the award’s namesake, best demonstrates the following leadership characteristics.

  1. Bold support for the advancement of women.
  2. Persistent leadership in the face of a significant challenge or obstacle.
  3. Consistent effort to make positive and lasting change, especially for women.

About Lizzie Crozier French

Lizzie Crozier French is the woman who represents East Tennessee on the Woman’s Suffrage Memorial located on Market Square Mall in Knoxville, Tennessee.  She aggressively advocated for women to be admitted to the University of Tennessee, with obvious success.

French was the first woman to address the Knoxville City Council, the Tennessee General Assembly, and the Tennessee Bar Association. Ever an advocate for women, even venturing a failed bid as the first woman to run for Knoxville City Council, French was also a strong advocate for local culture. She founded the now-renowned Ossoli Circle, the Writers’ Club of Knoxville; and the Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union. French was also a charter member of the Knoxville Art Museum and the Knoxville Lyceum.

2017 Honoree

Karen Carson

Karen Carson, former Chair of the Knox County School Board, received the \ 2017 Lizzie Crozier French Leadership Award. Carson is a pediatric critical care and emergency room nurse at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

She was nominated by former Knox County School Superintendent Jim McIntyre, who wrote that Carson is a thoughtful and outspoken leader who “has demonstrated commitment to our children and community through difficult times.” He added that during her 12 years on the Board, she served as an “advocate, role model and mentor for hundreds of women.”

During her tenure on the Knox County School Board, Carson received multiple recognitions from the Tennessee Parent Teacher Association as the “Outstanding School Board Representative of the Year.”  Carson served as the East Tennessee Region Federal Legislative Representative for the Tennessee School Board Association. She also served as the Federal Legislative Chairperson for the Tennessee Parent Teacher Association. Carson is a 2006 graduate of Leadership Knoxville.

Past Honorees


Phyllis Nichols


Wanda Sobieski


Cynthia GibsonCynthia Gibson


Justice Sharon Lee


Mayor Madeline Rogero

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