Raised in the Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield, Ohio, William L. McIlwain, IV became involved in local politics and government at a young age. In his hometown of Fairfield he represented the student body as the youth participant of the city council and school board. His interest in government and foreign languages led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs with minors in French and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cincinnati.
He spent the majority of his undergraduate career studying abroad. He studied and conducted research in Morocco, Tunisia, Haiti, the United Arab Emirates, and France. As an undergraduate, William became a recipient of the university’s highest honor, the Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence. He also is an alumnus of various nationally competitive scholarships and awards such as the Gilman Scholarship and the Clinton Foundation Scholarship to study in the UAE.
In 2013, William was selected as a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellow. The award prompted him to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration at Florida International University and was a pathway into diplomacy. As a Rangel Fellow, William worked in the Office of Congressman Charles B. Rangel and Embassy Santo Domingo.
He has stated that his internship experiences in both the Office of Congressman Rangel and U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo were very intense in a very good way. On the Hill, William has his first exposure to interacting with the press. The internship gave him exposure to something he would have never considered. During his internship in Santo Domingo, William worked with the management section. At the time, the Embassy was going through one of the most challenging managerial tasks: moving into a new embassy. He stated that gaining that type of exposure and experience is priceless, especially for someone who would become a management-coned officer.
He officially entered the Foreign Service with the U.S. Department of State in the summer of 2015. His diplomatic commission is signed by President Barack Obama. He served as a diplomat in Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, and Washington, DC. He speaks French and Arabic.
Asked how he hopes to make a difference as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, William stated, “I hope to show a different perspective on what it is to be American and a diplomat to the world. In places where there isn’t as much American tourism or exposure, the reputation of who and what is an American is skewed by limited media and often harsh stereotypes. Showcasing our diversity on a local level is important because it impacts diplomacy on a human level. Different backgrounds mean different perspectives.”
Will is pursuing a career and lifestyle that he finds enriching and challenging and is giving back to the nation and world community through his work.