Nancy Shanley Lyons was recently selected as the 2020 recipient of the Harwinton Outstanding Citizen Award, which will be presented for the 46th time at a banquet in her honor on Friday April 17, at Fairview Farm Golf Course.

Nancy was born and raised in Harwinton, one of four children born to Lloyd and Helen Shanley. Her Shanley and Lloyd ancestors have resided in Harwinton since the mid-1800’s. Nancy attended Region #10 schools, graduating from Lewis S. Mills High School. She has two daughters, Amy and Heather, and seven grandchildren. She is married to Dr. V. Everett Lyons, also an educator. Nancy’s dad, Lloyd, served the town for twenty-two years as First Selectman, as a Board of Finance member and as Town Historian until his death in 2005. Nancy’s mom served in the House of Representatives under Governor Ella Grasso. Her father received the Arthur Poole Award (Currently the Outstanding Citizen Award) in 1986. Nancy Lyons graduated with undergraduate and graduate degrees in both Elementary Education and in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University. She received her 6th year in Special Education Administration from the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She has worked with special education students and adults in school systems throughout Northwest Connecticut, retiring in 2014. During the last fifteen years of her career, she worked in both Watertown and in Thomaston as Pupil Services Director. Since 2014, Nancy has assisted school systems in need of administrative coverage. She has worked in this field for over forty-five years. “My first memories of volunteering were at around the age of eight, helping my mother to stuff mailers for the local March of Dimes campaign, which she chaired. As a youth I volunteered as an assistant Sunday School teacher. We were raised to volunteer and to help others. I don’t remember a time when that didn’t happen. Grandfather Lloyd Shanley Sr. took in people who had been displaced as a result of World War II. The local churches looked for farms where they could work. Grandpa gave them room, board and a small stipend to work on the farm. Since the two farms were contiguous, as a child I often visited and I learned to see that as human beings we really are very similar no matter where we are born or what language we may speak. Those frequent visits gave me a caring attitude about helping those less fortunate or in need. Experiences such as these helped to shape who I continue to be today.”

Nancy’s civic contributions are extensive. She served on the Board of Selectmen for four years, was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for over 25 years and served as an Alternate for the Zoning Commission. She also was a member of the Board of Directors for the Harwinton Housing Authority, the Harwinton House Task Force, and the Bronc Callahan Community Fund. Nancy continues to volunteer as a member of the Housing Authority, as Secretary of the Harwinton Democratic Town Committee and as an organizing member of the Harwinton Cemetery Walk Committee.

Members of the community recognize Nancy’s dedication and passion for volunteering as “truly outstanding”. Nancy has been a member of the Harwinton Lions Club for over seven years. She was recently awarded the Melvin Jones Fellowship by the Lions Clubs International Foundation and was awarded the Ambassador of Sight Award in 2017 by the Lions Low Vision Centers of CT. Nancy worked two missions as a VOSH CT (Volunteer Optometrists Serving Humanity) in Nicaragua providing eyecare, vision screenings and glasses to those in need. Her volunteer work includes vision screenings for the state-wide Special Olympic athletes, Lions District 23B Quest Chair (introducing anti-drug, social-emotional curriculum), Scholarship committee, KidSight Eye Screening for local school districts, Red Cross Blood drive, and the Lions Pancake Breakfast.

Currently, Nancy serves as the Vice-President of the Harwinton Historical Society, actively participating in the Scholarship Committee as well as various social events that include the town-wide Ice Cream Social, Harwinton Elementary students one-room schoolhouse/barn tour, Harwinton Fair Country Store volunteer, and Take-A Chance, recognizing and highlighting Harwinton Businesses.

Nancy is a devoted member of the Harwinton Congregational Church. Currently she is the Church Council President. She also served as a Deacon for twelve years and Co leader for the Youth Group for ten years. In the past, Nancy served as the church Historian, Stewardship Board Member and worked with teams of youth and adults from Harwinton and from around the USA, helping to build and repair houses ruined by flooding in Appalachia.

In 2011, Nancy was the recipient of the Ella Grasso Women’s Leadership Award. Her lifetime of volunteer service is impressive.

She is a member and past President of Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa (International Educators Sorority doing Altruistic work). Nancy volunteers for the Warner Theatre, The Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and Team In Training (completing a Century Bike Ride at Lake Tahoe, raising over $7,000 for Leukemia Research and assistance to local families).

When asked about being chosen as this year’s honoree, Mrs. Lyons commented, “What an honor!"

For pictures taken at the awards Banquet when available.