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Wandaliz Turner Named to Texas Lyceum Board of Directors

The Texas Lyceum Board of Directors is composed of 96 leaders who aim to create a better Texas. Now, Texas Woman’s University’s own Wandaliz Turner has become one of its newest members, making her the second representative from Denton to serve since 1980.

Turner, the assistant director of TWU’s Center for Women in Government at the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, stated that as a first-generation Puerto Rican-American, she values her appointment to the board, as well as her newfound ability to, “bring the perspective of TWU, higher education, Denton County and the North Texas region at a state level.” 

“I’ve worked in public service since 17,” Turner said. “I was in the military, law enforcement; I worked for the county government here in North Texas and nonprofits, so public service has pretty much been my whole career, just in different aspects. And so with the Lyceum, that really is what it’s about — it’s public service. But beyond that, it’s providing a space for civil discourse.”

Founded in 1980 as a nonprofit organization, The Texas Lyceum generates discussion between Texan leaders over national and state issues. According to its website, the Lyceum’s goals include identifying and developing the next generation of Texan top leadership, educating its directors on the interrelationships of major Texan issues and bringing an improved understanding of these issues to key decision makers in the state. Alumni from the group include President George W. Bush, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott.

Turner stated that as a new director, she and her fellow members of the Lyceum’s class of 2024 propose discussion subjects for the next coming years, offering themselves as the point of contact to plan these meetings. The topics they identify should be of significance and notable enough for a public forum. To reinforce this, part of the directors’ job calls for them to assemble experts and stakeholders from across the state in order to gather resources on such subjects. Sometimes, Turner noted, the directors themselves may need to step in as experts in their respective fields and professions. Other major considerations for the Lyceum board of directors include finances and finding regions of Texas to act as venues for these discussions.

“Being a director is a lot of work with this organization and it’s good, necessary work, so I’m really, really fortunate that I have the support of TWU and specifically the institute to provide me the time, to provide me the financial backing for me to be a member,” Turner said.

In 2008, Turner entered the university as a veteran student in her thirties. After about 14 years of trying to earn a bachelor’s degree, Turner finally received her bachelor’s in government, now recognized as political science, from TWU. In 2018, she returned to the school as a staff member and worked in various spaces. However, when Turner found out about the creation of the Jane Nelson Institute, she set a goal to one day work there because of the potential it stood for and how it represented women from different walks of life.

“I had set that goal, and [it was] a little ignorant in the sense that I didn’t know what I would do here, but if it was women’s leadership, and they were dedicated to all women in Texas, I wanted to be a part of this somehow,” Turner said.

Turner stated that while TWU gave her the academic foundation to succeed, the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership allowed her to “be where [she’s] supposed to be” serving women entrepreneurs, student leaders and women in government. As a result, she takes advantage of any opportunity to showcase TWU to various organizations across Texas, particularly at the state level.

“I also have alums that will approach me at all these different Lyceum meetings [saying], ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see, to hear Texas Woman’s being talked about here,’ so I try as much as possible to give back to the university and the institute as they have given to me,” Turner said.

Jocelyn Truong can be reached via email at

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