She’s been named one of Charlotte’s most influential women, and it’s no surprise why. Shannon Vandiver balances the high demands of being a lawyer in the fast-paced world of NASCAR, while still finding the time to volunteer and fulfill her responsibilities as the president of the Junior League of Charlotte. We are thrilled to introduce today’s FACE of Charlotte, Shannon Vandiver.
How did you get involved in the Junior League of Charlotte (JLC)?
I joined the Junior League when I was working at a big law firm out of town and really wanted to meet people and get more connected to and invested in the Charlotte community. My sister joined the year before me and from some of the girls that met in her first-year class, we formed a Bunco group that, 14 years later, still gets together once a month (occasionally we also still play Bunco)!
What’s your favorite part about being JLC President?
The insane amount of amazingly smart, passionate, caring and dedicated women I am truly lucky enough to servant lead with at the JLC. They not only make our community a better place to live for those we call neighbors, but they also invest in and develop their fellow League members for personal, professional and civic success. It is a privilege to serve with and be served by the over 1,900 women who are a part of the Junior League of Charlotte and to stand in the long shadow of 90 years of women who have built a better community, one school book party, kids’ grief camp counselor, weekend back pack of food, mobile food pantry, free health assessment, nature museum, health clinic, children’s hospital resource center, children’s advocacy organization, community center and guardian ad litem program at a time. It is an awesome experience. There are a lot of organizations the JLC was instrumental in founding that are coming up on major milestone anniversaries, and I love seeing the ripple effect of the JLC’s legacy of leadership and service in organizations celebrating 25-, 40- or 50-year anniversaries because of the ground work and commitment of the JLC.
How do you balance charity work with such a highly demanding job as an attorney?
It’s all about choices — where to invest your time, talent and energy, and you can tell someone’s priorities by looking at their calendar and their checkbook. For me, the challenge of running a solo practice is also the opportunity that allows me the flexibility to invest in my family and the philanthropic endeavors that are important to me. The charity work I do through the JLC and volunteer work with the North Carolina Bar Association’s Sports and Entertainment Law Section, is actually what provides balance to my day-to-day legal work. Ultimately my philanthropy work and my legal work are both rooted in service to others, and Ghandi’s quote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” is definitely true for me. The true secret to balancing it, though, is multiple calendar reminders — I’d be toast without them.
What’s a typical day look like for you?
There’s almost no such thing as a typical day for me. It can be anything from hearings at the courthouse to meetings with Junior League members, committees or community partners, or client meetings to a day of solitude drafting contracts, pleadings or correspondence. Starting the day off with morning snuggles with my silver lab, Nolen, as long as he’ll tolerate me is essential, then a devotional, a morning paddleboarding session on the lake (spring to early fall) and from there, the day is off to emailing, document preparation, contract negotiations or hearings, the occasional lunch meeting and the frequent evening meetings, meetings and more meetings. There is a lot of good work being done at the Junior League, and with over 90% of our active members working outside the home, most of our meetings happen in the evenings at our beautiful headquarters next to Freedom Park.
How did you decide to go into motorsports law?
From a racing family, I grew up with a love for racing. My dad was a 1960s- and ’70s-era NASCAR driver, one uncle was his crew chief, another one a driver, and my aunt was the first female to race in any division at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Racing has always been a part of the fabric of who I am, so when I got the opportunity to combine my legal career with service to motorsports clients, it was a natural fit.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Learn how to be flattered by an invitation for involvement, leadership or a new or challenging opportunity, but still able to say no thank you, graciously and sincerely.
Best piece of advice?
More wisdom than advice, but, “Your mission field is wherever in the world your two feet are.” I heard that at an event from NASCAR driver Michael McDowell, and it has resonated with me ever since. Mission work does not have to be in a hut somewhere in a foreign country. My mission work is wherever I am — whether I am favored for a mission with friends, family or loved ones; at a community service event; or through volunteer work. So much of loving and serving others is showing up, and realizing that I have the opportunity to show up for someone in a loving and serving way every single day, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, that’s the best reminder I’ve ever gotten.
Are you a night owl or early bird? What do you do during that quiet time?
Night owl, for sure. Quiet time? Really no such thing. In my night owl phase, I am usually multi-tasking with email, watching a game while also catching up with friends and family.
What would be your dream vacation?
Total dream trip (maybe not so much a “vacation” like lying on an island in the South Pacific) would be a mission tourism trip that combines mission work with an African safari tour.
Favorite Charlotte restaurant?
Oh, that is so hard! I like to engage in “progressive dining” – a tradition started with my sweet friend in Charleston – because there are just so many good places it would be entirely unfair to limit yourself to just one for the night. Atmosphere and experience are always my top priority, and for progressive dining in the Charlotte area, I would probably start Uptown with a drink at Fahrenheit, then do apps at some of the newer spots dripping with character, like Evoke and The Cellar at Duckworth’s, have dinner in downtown Davidson at a mix of Kindred and Upper Crust, then finish the night on the water with something sweet and a craft cocktail, likely at North Harbor Club.
If you have guests in town, what’s the one thing you make sure they do while in Charlotte?
Go to a NASCAR race, of course! I love introducing new people to the sport, and there is absolutely nothing like being there live. If it’s not NASCAR race time, I would still recommend something outdoors – a day on Lake Norman, or a day exploring at the USNWC kayaking, paddleboarding, rafting and ziplining, or taking in a Panthers or Knights game.
Excluding faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Time on the water with my lab Nolen, HIGH heels and lipstick (there are usually seven or so varieties in the lipstick pouch in my purse).
Thank you to Shannon Vandiver for taking the time to chat with us. And thanks to Piper Warlick of Piper Warlick Photography for the incredible photos of Shannon.
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