Lyndsay Lyle and family pose at a mountain overlook.
Photo Credit
Courtesy of Lyndsay Lyle

Mountaintop experience

Lyndsay Lyle ’03 has always looked for opportunities to help in ways that matter.

Lyndsay Lyle thinks a lot about how to continuously improve the most important things in her life. What companies would be a good fit for her investment business? What’s the optimal place to raise her children? How can she use philanthropy and volunteering to best help Duke?


From a seat on the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Board of Visitors, to mentoring technology students and alums, to investing in computer science education at Duke, Lyle has applied her time and resources to assist the university in its efforts to get better every day.


This way of thinking has roots in her time as an undergraduate. Lyle got off to a great start her first year in a FOCUS program on international comparative studies, learning how disciplinary research across the globe is woven together. She had another great experience in student government, where she enjoyed collaborating with administrators on issues that affected everyone at Duke.


“Everybody I worked with there was very receptive to student feedback,” Lyle says. “In the decades hence, one of the things that’s impressed me most about Duke is its commitment to self-improvement. It’s not one of the places that has rested on its laurels. It really combines and intertwines that serious pursuit of knowledge with incredible school spirit that I saw when I was there.”


Lyle graduated with a B.S. in biological sciences. Her education led her to brief stints in finance and consulting before she settled in tech, working for Google for a decade in the San Francisco Bay area. Toward the end of that run, Lyle and her husband, Christopher, were ready to leverage their hard work into a big dream: They pulled their three children out of school, took a six-month sabbatical, and traveled the world.


“That gave me time for reflection on what I wanted my next chapter to look like,” Lyle says. “And that really began a review of where I wanted to raise my kids and of what values I wanted to focus on in my own life. As much as I loved my job and my team, I wanted to change something, change directions, change what my life looked like for the next phase of life.”


Not long after, Lyle left Google and the family left California for Sun Valley, Idaho. Lyle liked its small-town values of independence, resilience, and community. A new career in investing complemented the mountain lifestyle, giving her the flexibility to work when she wanted and to help others when she wanted.


One of the first calls she made after moving was to Amy Arnold, who runs Duke Technology Scholars (DTech), a program that empowers diverse students to persist and innovate in technology fields. DTech was founded as a summer internship program that provided the networking and experience needed for tech careers. It has grown into a year-round support organization that includes a robust alumnae component.


Lyle had already been involved mentoring students and consulting with Arnold. The two talked about the need to formalize the growing alumnae group, so Lyle worked on that. Now DTech has an alumnae board representing 600 members, and recently held its first national retreat.


“She’s been instrumental in the alumnae program, setting up a structure that could grow,” Arnold says. “We’re a relatively small team, so there’s no way that the staff can support all of the students and all of the alums. Our special sauce is the broader community.”


Lyndsay Lyle on campus with Duke Chapel in the background.

“It’s been so rewarding for me,” Lyle says. “I’m getting to work with all these Duke grads as they navigate the first few years of their careers. Seeing where the Duke curriculum is or isn’t relevant, hearing from them the kinds of struggles and experiences they’re having in these early post-COVID years with return-to-work changes. The whole experience has been incredibly interesting and fulfilling.”


Lyle has supported the technology ecosystem at Duke in significant financial ways, too. She was inspired by Duke Science and Technology—the university’s signature effort to elevate the sciences—to endow a professor of the practice in computer science. The faculty position will be filled by an industry practitioner who can convey their experience to students who aspire to that field.


“My focus was, ‘How can we continue to foster this spirit and culture of innovation, relevance, ongoing journey of improvement that Duke has always had?’” Lyle says. “One of the best ways is to marry industry and academia together. It ties together in a way that is incredibly empowering.”