Audrey Lee was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.
Lee earned two degrees from KU’s School of Journalism: an undergraduate degree in news information followed by a Master’s of Science degree. She is also a member of the Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, KU’s first historically black sorority, and reflected on the organization’s centennial celebration held earlier this year.
As a journalist, Lee worked on international media campaigns for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II and U.S. ambassadors. She also served on the faculty of the University of Louisville, Sullivan College and Paducah Community College. After earning her law degree from the University of Kentucky, she now works as a senior criminal defense attorney in the Paducah Trial Office for the Department of Public Advocacy. In 2012, she was recognized as the Woman of the Year by the Kentucky Federation of Business and Professional Women, and she received the Mayor’s Award of Merit.
Watch our video below to learn more about Lee.
Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.
Twelve alumni are the 2015 recipients of the KU Black Alumni Network’s African-American Leaders and Innovators award. The network, sponsored by the KU Alumni Association, will honor them Saturday, Sept. 26, during its biennial reunion. Ten recipients will attend the event, and two will be honored posthumously.
The KU Black Alumni Network also will posthumously honor Michael E. Shinn, e’66, who helped found the network and the Leaders and Innovators Project in 2006. The award will be renamed for Shinn, who died in March, and his wife, Joyce, of Highland Heights, Ohio, who will attend the event.
Biographies of this year’s honorees are available here.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, KU’s first historically black sorority, held its centennial celebration earlier this month. The Delta Chapter was originally chartered Feb. 15, 1915. Audrey Lee, j’76, g’78, reflected on the festivities, which included events for current and alumnae members of the sorority as well as for the general public.
“We came to KU. Saw a Sorority. It was the AKAs. And they looked good to me.”
Those words, sung by the sorority sisters who pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha in the 1970s, brought back memories and a lot of bonding during our sorority’s reunion Feb. 13-15 in Lawrence. Not everybody knew each other when we arrived on campus for the Centennial Celebration, but it was like Six Degrees of Alpha Kappa Alpha. We were all connected through one another. It was great.
I stepped out of my car and immediately called out someone’s name who pledged four years after me. As I walked in the door, a young sorority sister asked if I knew her mother. Of course, her mother had pledged with me. It was a time of renewing friendships and making new friends. While posting on Facebook, I got a message from a sister in Kentucky who let me know that one of the women in my picture was one of her best friends. That was amazing.
Katherine Idelburg, who pledged in 1949, was the most golden of the sisters there. It was impressive to see the women in pledged in the 1950s who came back and all still have a strong bond with one another. They told us the stories of living in the sorority house. When I pledged in 1974, we no longer had a house. Each generation had their stories to tell, and each generation had their own strolls and chants to perform.
During the weekend, we reviewed the history with the representatives from University Archives. We raised funds for the Willow Domestic Violence Center and dedicated a bench on campus. We were greeted at a gala by KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. Our featured speaker was the AKA Mid-Western Regional Director Jan M. Carpenter-Baker.
It was exciting. I had a friend drive me around campus and stop so I could take pictures of Strong Hall and the Campanile. The campus has grown so much and is so beautiful—just as beautiful as my ladies of the pink and green.
Pictured above: Members of the Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Golden Sorors and Madam Regional Director making service donations to Willow Domestic Violence Center.