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Mrs. Isabel Yates

Isabel Yates, a native of South Carolina, has called Lexington, Kentucky, home for over forty years. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she holds a master’s degree from Ohio State University. She is well-known in Lexington for her many years of service in numerous community and civic organizations.

Among her many interests and accomplishments are:

  • serving as Chair of the University of Kentucky Center on Aging
  •  President of the Philharmonic Guild  and Vice-President of the Philharmonic Society
  •  Co-chair of the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council Fundraising Campaign
  •  President of American Mother’s Association, Inc. Kentucky Chapter, and National Vice-President and Advisory Board member
  •  Founder, UK-LFUCG Arboretum
  •  Chair of  the Midway College Development Council
  •  Chair of the “Campaign for Kids” for the YMCA of the Central Kentucky
  •  Board member of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation
  •  and Founder and Board Member of the Friends of McConnell Springs.

Currently, Yates is:

  • Board member and Secretary of the Lexington History Museum
  • Board member, YMCA of Central Kentucky
  • Chairman, Lexington Philharmonic’s Picnic with the Pops (since 2003)
  • Board Member, UK Center on Aging
  • Board Member, UK Development Council
  • LexArts Honorary Chair, 2006 Campaign for the Arts
  • appointed White House Conference on Aging in 2005
  • Advisory Board, Henry Clay Foundation
  • Chair Emeritus, Friends of McConnell Springs
  • Board member and Chairman, Public Policy Committee for the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Yates has also been active in the political world as an elected public official on the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council for eleven years.  In 1999, she began her term as Vice Mayor after serving three terms as Council Representative from the Fourth District. On the Council, she chaired the Intergovernmental, Stormwater, Corridors, and Enhanced 911 committees, as well as serving on many special and ad hoc committees. Yates served as Vice Mayor until 2002, and is known for the preservation and restoration of McConnell Springs (now a Lexington park), Lexington’s downtown beautification program, the promotion of Horse Mania and other public arts projects in Lexington, and most importantly, her effective leadership of the LFUCG Council and her service as an “Ambassador” for Lexington and the Bluegrass.

Some might consider Yates as a role model for Kentucky women because of her extensive public and community service, but she considers her most important job the rearing of her four children. Isabel Yates was honored to be named the “Kentucky Mother of the Year” in 1981. All of her children are now grown and she is proud to say that each one has at least two degrees.

Yates is an ardent believer in the education of women in every academic discipline. Women bring strengths and perspectives that are vital and essential in the business and professional world, and, of course, the political arena as well. In addition to her formal education, Isabel has taken several graduate courses at the University of Kentucky as well as a variety of adult education courses. She is currently in the UK Donovan Scholar Program, and serves as a Docent at the UK Art Museum.

Yates has faced many challenges, both in her everyday life and while serving on the LFUC Council. Her introduction and support of the Fairness Ordinance in 1999 caused a great deal of controversy, but it passed with a 12-3 vote and has never been challenged in court. Personally, she had to cope with her husband, who had Alzheimer’s Disease for several years, and then with his death and her current role as a widow.

Economic development and the professional advancement of women was one of Yates’ goals as a Council member and as Vice-Mayor. She has always been a strong advocate for tourism and for preservation and promotion of the horse farms that make Lexington unique in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and all over the world. She served as President of Lexington Directions, and has been a Board member of Downtown Lexington Corporation for six years and of the World Trade Center for two years. In 1989 Yates was elected chair of the Administrative Board of Lexington’s First United Methodist Church, the first female chair in the church’s 200 year history. As a co-owner of two small businesses, Merit Tours, a personalized tour and convention planning business, and Track Two, a retail business in Midway, Kentucky, she has been a strong advocate and role model for women in business.

For her  leadership and service to the community, Yates has received many honors, including:

  • the YWCA Women of Achievement Award
  • Lexington Arts and Cultural Council APOLLO Award
  • United Way “Cabinet Campaign Award”
  • Optimist Cup for Leadership
  • NAWBO Award for Public-Policy Advocate
  • National Philanthropy Day Award for Outstanding Volunteer Fund-Raiser
  • Honorary Chair of the Blue Grass Trust Antiques and Garden Show
  • Honoree for Alzheimer’s Association
  • Hellenic Ideals Award;
  • nd Delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

Whether in business, politics, volunteer service, or her personal life, Isabel Yates  is sincerely grateful to have had  many opportunities to work together  with people of all walks of life.  She considers her dedication to the community and the Commonwealth a privilege that is the ultimate reward, and she has enjoyed every minute!  Her nomination for the 2006 Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award is indeed an honor.


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