Q&A with Advisory Board Vice Chair Lane McDonald
March 28, 2022 | Kristen Chavez
Lane Morris McDonald ’00 is the Vice Chair of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities’ Advisory Board. She works as a Managing Director for OMERS Private Equity. Prior to joining OMERS, Lane co-founded ESG Portfolio Partners and was an operating partner for Partners Group. She also has held various operations and strategy roles at Ropes & Gray, JetBlue Airways, American Express, Delta Air Lines and Bain & Company.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts in journalism in 2000, McDonald served on UNC’s Young Alumni Leadership Council before an eight-year rotation on the IAH Advisory Board. Now in her second rotation, she currently chairs the IAH Advisory Board nominating committee in addition to serving on the Chancellor’s Philanthropic Council.
Q: What inspired you to serve the University as an alumna?
A: I LOVED my short time at UNC and my experience was influenced by so many wonderful people who helped me get here and thrive here. I feel an enormous obligation to do anything I can to support this place to ensure it can play the same role in the lives of others.
Q: Who was a faculty member that was impactful to you as an undergraduate student at UNC?
A: So many! I specifically remember taking James Kimball King’s English class as he also taught my father the same class 35 years before. I also remember Professor James White’s 20th century Asian political science class. Both professors were masters of their craft and excellent storytellers.
Q: How have the arts and humanities shaped your life or career?
A: My career has always been in the business world, and I cannot tell you what a strategic advantage my humanities and journalism training has been – the ability to see connections, quickly get to the root of an issue, and tell stories in a clear and factual way is foundational. Anyone can read a spreadsheet, but can you make someone understand the story in the data and help those around you work together to accomplish something? That’s the magic. My husband is also a history professor so political, societal, and economic history are all big dinner table topics in my house.
Q: What is a good book you’ve read recently?
A: I tend toward ‘trash’ fiction… murder mysteries, spy novels, historical novels. Christopher Moore’s Fool, Shakespeare for Squirrels and Biff all made me laugh out loud (somewhat embarrassing while on the subway, so be warned). You can’t go wrong with anything by Kate Quinn or Tana French – they both consistently weave a good yarn. I also listened to a Great Courses lecture series this summer taught by a former Carolina professor named Garrett Fagan about the history of Ancient Rome, which highlighted frightening parallels to the United States’ current situation.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to support the Institute for the Arts and Humanities?
A: Basically, there is no UNC without its wonderful professors. The IAH serves as a place where professors are supported and celebrated as great teachers and scholars and can hone their craft. I am grateful to be able to play a tiny part in supporting and continuing the great work of this foundational institute.