Winthrop University: Decorated Political Science Alum Chosen for U.S.-Spain Council Young Leaders Program
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Decorated Political Science Alum Chosen for U.S.-Spain Council Young Leaders Program

July 06, 2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The program launched in 2001 as a way to bring young American leaders to Spain and familiarize them with the social, cultural, economic and political realities of contemporary Spain, and to foster stronger understanding between Spain and the United States.
  • Lyles’ current role is director of federal affairs for Duke Energy.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – The U.S.-Spain Council and the Fundación Consejo España – EEUU have announced their 2020 class of Young Leaders – and Willie Lyles III, Esq. ’06 is one of the 10 members.  

The program launched in 2001 as a way to bring young American leaders to Spain and familiarize them with the social, cultural, economic and political realities of contemporary Spain, and to foster stronger understanding between Spain and the United States. 

“As a life-long learner, these international opportunities are always helpful in providing perspective for the life we live in America,” Lyles said. “It’s a chance to compare and contrast things we get right in our country and areas for improvement. Professionally, I’m really interested in learning how Spain is working to tackle the global climate crisis.” 

Lyles’ current role is director of federal affairs for Duke Energy, and he sees the future trip as an opportunity to answer some questions he’s been pondering during this role. 

“At Duke Energy, we have set a goal of being at net-zero emissions by 2050,” he explained. “How aggressive are they moving in that direction? What technologies are they employing to meet their goals? Those are some of the questions I hope to answer during my visit to Spain.” 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has put the actual trip dates up in the air, a tentative week-long itinerary will include meetings with Spanish government and business leaders in Madrid and Valencia; in-depth cultural tours; and conversations with young Spanish professionals. 

Lyles just completed the program’s new virtual component, in which participants met their cohorts, learned about the program and learned about the current state of play in Spain. 

“We were welcomed by Congressman Joaquin Castro, chair of both the U.S.-Spain Council and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and provided a briefing on the current economic and political environment in Spain from one of their leading think-tanks,” he said. “Additionally, we had an opportunity to take a virtual tour of an art museum in Madrid.” 

Lyles earned a B.A. in political science from Winthrop in 2006. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale School of Law, where he served on the Student Bar Association, the Black Law Student Association, as president of the Law School Democrats, vice president of administrative affairs for the Graduate and Professional Student Council and convener of the Carbondale Pipeline Working Group. The latter was Lyles’ idea and created an intergenerational pipeline encouraging young people from minority communities to seek careers in the legal profession. 

“Jurist Magazine” recognized him as one of its 25 National Law Students of the Year in 2017. 

He served as a senior advisor for two members of Congress throughout a seven-year period; Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives; and former Congressman Bill Enyart of Illinois. 

“My experience at Winthrop gave me the foundation I needed to be where I am today,” Lyles said. “Without the mentorship and push to do better from my professors, I don’t think I would be prepared to work in my field today.” 

For more information, please contact Nicole Chisari, communications coordinator, at 803/323-2236 or email chisarin@winthrop.edu.  

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Last Updated: 10/4/21