Baccalaureate will be held this evening at 6 in the BCHS Fine Arts Center. Lawson, a 1976 graduate of Bradley Central High School, will address the Class of 2013 and inspire graduates to meet life’s challenges.
Lawson has a record of accomplishment of more than 25 years in successful business development with companies. As co-founder of two rent-to-own businesses and a deferred presentment business, Lawson managed the financial and organizational growth of companies serving 17 states with more than 1,500 employees and revenues exceeding $1 million. She is the founder of Brenda Lawson & Associates, LLC, a management company formed for the oversight of businesses in which she is a majority owner. She serves as CEO of Railcar Custom Leasing, LLC, is a majority owner in Raccoon Mountain Holdings LLC, and a principal with Spring Brook Community Developers, LLC and CALA Development Inc. She is also president of Friendly Auto Group, Swing Perfect, Reflections Commemorative Portraits and Solutions Finance.
Lawson is an active participant in her community, serving as a member of the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation and the Cleveland Business Roundtable. She also serves on the board of directors for United Way of Bradley County and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. She is president of Cleveland 100 and the Cleveland Tennessee Chapter of DiaperLove and immediate past president of the Bradley/Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, continuing to serve on its board of directors. Lawson is also a long-standing member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. In January Lawson received the Fred Gregg Jr. Award from the Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame.
She has also constructed a girl’s softball field at Cleveland High School and renovated the CHS School Library. She continues to support local education through her active participation in the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation. Each year, Creating Christmas Memories Foundation, which she founded, works with local elementary school officials and volunteers to provide Christmas gifts for those in need.
Lawson is an avid supporter of the University of Tennessee and serves as a member of the UT Development Council and the Executive Committee of the University of Tennessee Alliance for Women Philanthropists. She also co-chairs the Capital Campaign for the University of Tennessee, is on the UTC Foundation board of trustees and the UTC advisory board for the College of Business. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has dedicated the Brenda Lawson Court in the new Pratt Pavilion. In 2012, The University of Tennessee awarded Lawson as philanthropist of the year.
Other awards include being named a past recipient of the Southern Conference Distinguished Service Award, Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Award, the 2001 Sertoma Service to Mankind Award, a 2004 UTC College of Business Entrepreneurial Honoree, the 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year, and 2006 Outstanding Philanthropist of the year by the Association of Professional Fund Raisers. In 2010, she was the recipient of the M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award.
Lawson resides in Cleveland with her husband Stan. She is the mother of Ashley, Zach and Toby Jr. and has one grandson.