Bill Wiley ’89, who represents District 29 in the Virginia House of Delegates, came to Episcopal in January at the invitation of the Young Republicans Club to meet with students during an informal “Brown Bag” session coordinated through the McCain-Ravenel Center.
Discussing his role as a delegate, Wiley touched on the importance he places on serving his community and the sense of purpose it gives him to help others. As someone who values lifelong learning, he also talked through the process of connecting with his constituents and learning about the topics that are most important to them so he could serve as an effective advocate. A citizen legislator who works in the construction industry, Wiley most recently served on Virginia’s Education Committee and Communications, Technology and Innovation Committee. Sharing a bit about his experience with successful bipartisan work, Wiley also addressed some of the challenges legislators face as they work to serve their respective communities.
Harkening back to his time at Episcopal, Wiley said, “Episcopal gave me great foundations. The Honor Code system is truly something that continues the rest of your life in terms of how you treat people and how you live your life with integrity. Similarly, the character development here is probably the most important thing that I cherish and remember about Episcopal High School. My advice is to learn to appreciate the foundations the School has given you. They are invaluable.”
Jane Montgomery ’22, who was instrumental in orchestrating his visit said, “Throughout his presentation, Mr. Wiley emphasized the importance of serving your community, working across the aisle to get things done, and the importance of respecting your president no matter what you think of their politics.”
Among the students present was Anne Griffin ’22, who was struck by Wiley’s focus on the impact one can make at the local level. “In his presentation, Mr. Wiley spoke not from the perspective of a bureaucratic government official, but of a caring and informed citizen. I commonly think about politics exclusively on a national level, but from Mr. Wiley’s presentation, I was able to gain insight into the role and importance of government on a state level.”
Senior Isabella Custard had a similar takeaway, “I believe we talk of federal politics too often. Although they are critical, the significance of local level government should not be disregarded. Mr. Wiley is the embodiment of this ideal as he spoke of specific issues in his community he was able to resolve by reaching across the aisle. When asked how to navigate today's sometimes tense political climate, Wiley spoke of making these compromises and even linked his achievements towards Episcopal’s life lasting honor code.”
In reflecting on his strongest takeaway, Ward Lilly ’22 said, “Towards the end of the presentation he was asked about what advice he would give to a student at Episcopal. Mr. Wiley’s response was simple, ‘Find a way to serve your community.’ Mr. Wiley’s message and example of service was my biggest takeaway and I hope that it made an impression on others as well.”
YRC president Boots Giblin ’22, who served as moderator for the session, said, “I really appreciate how his political beliefs come from his strong belief in serving your country, and how he uses that serving experience to interact with his political colleagues and people of his district. It was also awesome to hear him attribute his values to EHS, and how he has used what he learned here to carry him through a tense political climate.”
Encouraging the students to get involved with their communities, Wiley challenged them to find something they are passionate about and act on it. “It may be the SPCA, going out and helping the needy or the hungry, getting involved with youth programs, teaching a kid how to play basketball…those are the things in life that you can take to heart. It does not have to be in politics…just go out, share what you have learned here, contribute, and have a good time!”