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On Island Profile: Kim Lyons


Jan. 30, 2006 – After St. John resident Kim Lyons saw a need, she convinced Police Commissioner Elton Lewis to hire her as his special assistant for St. John.
"It's very much a troubleshooting job," she said.
Although she said she couldn't convince Lewis to hire her as a contractor when racial tensions began to escalate in the wake of the alleged rape of a black woman, Lyons then came on board in November as a staff member.
"I saw where he could use some help," she said.
She was on hand at Starfish Market the day before Thanksgiving when protestors launched their pay-with-pennies shop-in in hopes of forcing law enforcement officials to release information on the case. The case is still pending.
Lyons said that one of her goals is to improve communication between the Police Department and the community.
"In a small community, it's important for the Police Department to have a good relationship with the community," she said.
Lyons, who's worked at various public relations and associated endeavors, said she never thought she'd find police work so interesting.
She called it a multifaceted job that gives her lots of different ways to make a difference in the community where she grew up.
Lyons, 40, was born in New York but moved to St. John as an infant. She grew up in the care of her St. John grandmother, the late Alma Wesselhoft.
"She was very much a mother to me," she said.
She commuted to Antilles School on St. Thomas before heading off to Hunter College in New York to study English, creative writing and art.
While still at Hunter, she started working as a summer intern at Greengage Associates, then the territory's advertising agency. The internship led to a full-time job, where she said she was exposed to every aspect of the advertising business.
She moved back to St. John after seven years at Greengage's New York office to open their St. Thomas office.
Lyons then went on to serve as assistant commissioner of tourism during Gov. Roy L. Schneider's administration. She also opened the Purple Door restaurant, located where La Tapa restaurant now operates and worked at ATT as the head of their business and public affairs office.
"In all of that I had a daughter," she said, speaking about Savannah, now 11, currently in sixth-grade at Guy Benjamin School.
After working for years, she took time off to raise her daughter. She and Savannah traveled around Europe before settling in New York for a couple of years. They then went off to Nigeria, where Lyons studied batik and textile design.
"I just absorbed African culture," she said.
Lyons wanted to return to New York, but Savannah convinced her otherwise. Lyons said she told her that if they couldn't stay in Nigeria, she wanted to go back to St. John.
"I have to say my daughter pulled me back home," she said.
They returned in August 2001, a decision that in retrospect was a good one, Lyons said, given the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City. She said that additionally, she returned to the support system provided by family and friends.
"It's way different being a mom in New York and not having a support system," she said.
However, she said she has no regrets about moving off island for a while, noting that it's good for everybody to gain the exposure and experience that comes from living away.
She went on to hold a job as development director with the Friends of the V.I. National Park, a job that gave her the fund-raising experience she wanted.
After that, she opened her own public relations company, K. Lyons and Co., to work with private clients.
Although she's busy with the Police Department job and being Savannah's mom, she still finds time for artistic endeavors. She's now selling her handcrafted beaded jewelry and crocheted bags and hats. In fact, she's headed off to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a trunk show, which is fashion parlance for when a visiting artiste shows her wares.
"I'm excited about it," she said, perhaps speaking about all that's going on in her life.
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