At 35, Holly Lane already carries the title of director of advance, and is detailed to the White House. (Yes, that one, the one in D.C., the actual one.)
Lane grew up in Pine-Strawberry, graduating from P-S Elementary in 1999 and going on to Payson High School, Yavapai College, ASU and then to the White House.
Her current job has her working in advance of senior government officials organizing travel, meetings and events..
“We make the unimaginable happen,” Lane said.
That is about all she can tell me. Working for the White House makes talking to the media tricky, so that is all for the current brag on this small-town girl gone awesome, but read on, she is worth it.
Lane got involved in student government at a very young age.
“I was a third grade representative and the historian in sixth grade.”
In eighth grade, Lane served as student body president.
“I liked getting involved and making changes. I got to play a role and help make decisions about school dances and activities.”
Lane learned a lot growing up in P-S and she is not sure she would have gotten the same experience living a bigger city.
“One of my favorite memories is riding my bike around Pine, having lived nestled way back in the mountain we never had neighbors, there were never children nearby,” Lane said. “I remember being in middle school and riding my bike around town. We would take our two dollars and get a soda and make that trek back up the hill. I remember the freedom of playing in the woods and how much fun that was. I might not have a traditional backyard, but the woods were our backyard. Such a magical way to grow up.”
She did the normal things: climbing trees, making forts, checking out the wildlife.
“You have to keep yourself entertained, there is more creativity, you have to utilize those resources,” Lane said.
“I created all of the opportunities for myself.” Lane said. “I did not have connections in D.C. or anything, it’s all been created by me.”
Attending Payson High School, Lane once again found her path to student government but admits even as a senior, serving as student body president, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life, yet.
“My senior year I was nominated by my high school guidance counselor Mrs. Gibson to attend the Congressional Student Leadership Conference by Lead America in Washington, D.C.,” said Lane.
The night before the application was due, Lane remembers begging her parents to let her apply. D.C. is a long way from Pine and $50 is a fair chunk of money to throw away on an application that may not be accepted, Lane told me.
They said yes and she was accepted. Only a $2,000 hurdle stood between her and D.C. — Pine-Strawberry stepped in.
Lane reminded me of a story I wrote at the time, “Miss Lane wants to go to Washington.”
“They raised $2,000 plus to give to a small-town kid to go to D.C. that was when things changed for me.”
More community members stepped in to assist the young ingénue with so much drive. She needed to have a meeting set up with a congressman from Arizona. One of her substitute teachers connected her with her husband, who worked for a congressman.
“When I came back from that program I was so jazzed up and I reached out to the district director,” she said. “I became a congressional intern my freshman year in college.”
Her career was launching, and she was only a college freshman. Junior year found the congressman’s campaign manager offering her a job if she could transfer to Arizona State University. She graduated with a degree in political science.
“I wanted to move to D.C., so I plastered my resumé everywhere and I got no call backs.”
Figuring on staying home that first summer, Lane got a last minute, life changing call.
“I got a call, ‘This is John from the White House we’d like to interview you.’”
Once again friends and family scraped up some extra funds and Lane was on her way to a job in the Bush administration White House as a staff assistant.
Her first job, out of college, away from home is the White House? Yes, yes it was.
She was in a different world but found her small town skills served her well.
“Having grown up in Pine has kept me grounded my entire life,” Lane said. “I feel like that you have to earn more, you have to be more creative on your own. Everything takes more steps. There is more involved in growing up in a small town. You are not fed opportunities, you have to create them.”
For the last two years of that administration, Lane said she dealt with everything that went into the Bush Presidential Library.
“It was a really fun job.”
But as a political appointed position, when the tides change so does the staff, and Lane was determined to stay in D.C. and serve.
“I was heavily influenced by my grandfather who was a Marine. I wanted to plan events for the Marine Corps.” From 2009 through 2015 she planned, organized, and successfully created Marine Corps events in the D.C. area.
Lane took some time to travel and eventually came back to Arizona to work with Senator John McCain as a northern Arizona field director.
“I stayed involved in politics from that point on that led me to (where I am now).”
“When I worked for McCain, it was my job to recruit volunteers, I would tell them my story,” she says. “I had no connections. I had no idea what I wanted to do. Those connections that you make can literally get you to the White House.”
“I would tell the students that I talk to get involved in issues that you are passionate about and you can be at the table when they make a real change.”
But none of this happens without her small town family.
“This is not possible without the community people taking a chance on me. There is a special relationship in a small town. I know what it is like to grow up in a small town it’s just a different lifestyle.”
Lane, while working at the White House, just earned her master’s degree in National Security Studies from Naval War College.
“For all the kids from Pine-Strawberry, you truly can be whatever you want to be. You are not limited by a small town it will work to your benefit that you grew up in a loving community.”