Head of Diversity and Inclusion
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
Audria Pendergrass Lee is the daughter, granddaughter, sister, and wife of military service members. She, too, served, spending eight years in the U.S. Army Reserves as a paralegal. Now, as head of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Lee affirms the impact of her family’s military history, including her own service, on her life.
“There are so many ways the military has influenced my outlook, and my passion for the work I do in D&I,” she maintains. “The experience provided me with the framework for my disciplined approach to problem solving and exposure to people from all walks of life who, in spite of their circumstances, were given the opportunity to excel. This taught me that everyone has the potential to be extraordinary.”
Lee was brought into FINRA to start the D&I program. “I’m the luckiest girl alive. To be able to make sure people of color and women and, frankly, everyone, has an equal opportunity to succeed has been the most amazing gift and an awesome responsibility,” she declares.
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Lee has a B.A. from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, and FINRA Excellence in Management certification from the Wharton Executive Education School at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds fast to her grandmother’s teaching that “you have to wake up every day and decide to be happy,” and to the advice of author Jennifer Lee: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
“I do what I do because it sets my soul on fire,” Lee states. “Let your purpose help you to push through difficult moments so that you can achieve your goals, pursue what you’re most passionate about, and become a master of your craft.”