Published: June 1, 2010 By

annie lyons

Annie Lyons (Comm’03)

My life’s over, worried Annie Lyons (Comm’03) after learning she’d received a staff assistant position with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in July 2006. She wanted the job but realized the hours would be unimaginable.

What began as a summer internship with the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs before her senior year at CU has turned into a varied career.

“I take risks and see where I land,” she acknowledges, reflecting on her moves from the Bureau of Public Affairs job to the Secretary of State’s office and then chief of staff to Rice at the Hoover Institution, a think tank at Stanford University dedicated to research in domestic policy and international affairs. Annie is responsible for Rice’s foreign and domestic travel and oversees the office.

During a March 2006 trip with then Secretary of State Rice, she assisted with the traveling press pool on a two-day trip to Berlin, Paris and Liverpool. It was a precursor for her job as staff assistant to Rice. Riding in a speeding motorcade around Paris in the rain, Annie wondered, “How did I end up here?”

She recalls becoming adept at changing clothes in airplane bathrooms.

“I remember one trip waking up in Jerusalem, driving out to the West Bank around lunch, flying to Aqaba, Jordan, for dinner at the King’s summer house and then ending up back in Jerusalem later that night,” she says.

Her foreign travel experience started when Annie volunteered to go to Iraq to help the press office cover the referendum vote in October 2005. She flew with journalists to Hillah and then returned to Baghdad on a “kind of scary” night flight aboard a Black Hawk helicopter. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. State Department sent her to New Orleans to help with media for Prince Charles’ visit in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ve met and worked with so many amazing people of high caliber,” Annie says. “I’m fortunate. There are so many wonderful mentors,” noting associate professor Cindy White of communication was one of her great role models at CU.

“How many Longmont, Colo., kids does it take to handle a Secretary of State’s phone call?” she asks, remembering her time in Washington, D.C., working together with her brother, foreign service officer Richard “Trey” Lyons III (PolSci’00). From the State Department’s Operations Center, Trey worked as a senior watch officer to patch incoming calls from foreign ministers to Annie for connection to Rice.

Working in locations where Ivy Leaguers predominate, Annie enjoys representing CU.

“The Buffs dominated the Secretary of State’s office when Dan B. Smith (Hist’77), Trey and I worked together,” Annie states proudly.