Audrey KS Lane
Founding Partner and Executive Director, E3 Foundation
Audrey Lane is, in her own words, “a soulful warrior.” That spirit has made good things happen in her life.
In high school, the Columbia, S.C. native planned to attend Spelman College. Instead, she said “yes” when the president of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) personally called to offer a full scholarship.
Lane sang in FAMU’s famous gospel choir, made lifelong friends, and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She moved into the corporate world, putting in 12 years with heavyweights – Xerox, International Paper, and BP. Along the way, she earned an MBA from DePaul University.
Still, Lane felt something missing. She kept remembering her ninth-grade algebra teacher, Barbara Roach.
“Ms. Roach saw something in me,” said Lane. “She sponsored the Engineering Club and got me into a minority engineering consortium that visited college campuses to engage in projects. She urged me to take algebra II in summer school, giving me five years of math in four high school years.”
“She pushed me to the next level. Ms. Roach is the reason behind many of the good things that have happened for me,” she added.
At the height of a stellar corporate career, Lane decided her true calling lay elsewhere. She wanted to give students of color the same opportunities to succeed that Ms. Roach had gifted her.
At an executive leadership event with the renowned Kellogg School of Management, Lane spent evenings in her hotel room filling out an application for The Broad Residency in Urban Education. Now housed at the Yale School of Management, the two-year residency program places exceptional young leaders in key leadership positions within America’s urban school districts.
Lane was selected as a Broad resident.
In 2008, she started work in Charleston, coordinating special projects in the Charleston County School District through the Office of the Superintendent. With a solid record of helping schools improve student achievement, Lane became chief of access and equity for the South Carolina Public Charter School District.
She was, in fact, one of the first influencers to urge bringing Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) to Charleston, and she stands out as a supporter of TFASC’s approach.
“Putting competent, culturally relevant teachers in front of students matters now more than ever,” said Lane. “The pandemic has proven that we must have non-traditional ways of tackling educational issues. Pathways to the classroom have to be varied.”
To hasten change, in 2016, Lane co-founded the Educate, Empower, and Elevate (E3) Foundation, a nonprofit and consulting organization focused on a critical issue.
“Equitable education for Black and Brown students isn’t only about what happens in the classrooms,” said Lane. “It’s also about eliminating the disparities in other systems that families encounter daily – housing, transportation, healthcare, and employment. And it’s about recognizing the brilliance and beauty of Black and Brown children.”
She added, “To change our education system, we must have more representation in classrooms, in administrative positions, and among influencers and decision-makers from the communities that are most impacted by the disparities. That’s what E3 wants to accomplish.”
“Our children deserve better,” concluded Lane. “I, like many others, understand that things have to change.”