True Believer


Cyndee Patterson is president of the Lynwood Foundation, which owns and operates the historic Duke Mansion and the Lee Institute. The Duke Mansion is a 4-star inn and meeting event venue. The Lee Institute provides facilitation, consulting and training for nonprofit, government and community organizations across the country. Cyndee was previously president of Patterson Blake, Inc., a corporate meeting and event planning firm. She served as an at-large Charlotte City Council member from 1985 to 1993 and as Mayor Pro Tem from 1989-1991. She has served on several boards and has won numerous awards for community service. Cyndee earned B.A. with honors in psychology and business administration from Purdue University.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in civic engagement, dialog, leadership development, city politics, and serving the past, present and future.  


  • Cyndee describes the Lynwood Foundation and the work of the Duke Mansion and the Lee Institute.

  • She explains how the Lee Institute goes about its work of building community leadership.

  • She notes what the Lee Institute teaches that intersects leadership development, non-profit organizational support and civic engagement.

  • She discusses listening and appreciative inquiry, and the tension between dialog and action.

  • Cyndee talks about facilitating dialog around the issue of gentrification.

  • She identifies two underlying causes of civic engagement issues in Charlotte.

  • She considers how the leadership model in Charlotte must evolve to address stresses from growth.

  • She addresses lack of trust as a barrier to civic engagement.

  • Cyndee answers what can people to do improve civic engagement.

  • She discusses growing up in Carol City, Florida and how it framed her life.

  • She shares how her politics have come full circle and why she loves civic engagement.

  • She reveals what she is a true believer about and what event rocked her world.

  • Cyndee talks about how she went from supporting Bobby Kennedy to Nelson Rockefeller to Richard Nixon to George McGovern.

  • She discusses moving to Charlotte, the first projects she worked on in the city, and bringing people together.

  • She reveals why the chose to withdraw from her race for mayor.

  • She compares civic leadership today to the civic leadership of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

  • Cyndee talks about converting to Reform Judaism and recites the words of a sign in her office that guides her life.

plus Mark’s Personal Word Essay: The Charlotte Way

To Learn More About Cyndee


  • What struck you about Cyndee’s comments?

  • What does dialog mean to you?

  • How have you seen leadership evolve?

  • How do you connect the past to your present and future?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.