Millennials are often left out of important policy decisions. American politicians tend to be older than 50 and caucasian. Roxy Ndebumadu is changing that narrative. Roxy is the youngest black councilwoman to be elected in Maryland – she represents Bowie county. She balances her political career with a full time job at Microsoft where she manages technical advisors. In addition to that, she is the co-chair of the Robert S. Brookings Society, an affiliate of the Brookings Institution. She is also a mentor for Women in Technology, a program that promotes and supports women in technology. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Howard University.
Roxy is a superwoman and we are amazed by her strength and passion for people! She shared her inspiring career journey with us!
Your story is one that exemplifies the grace and grit! How do you stay motivated with your busy schedule? My motivation comes from people. I believe that in life there has to be a greater motivation than just notoriety or compensation. That motivation has to be driven by love or something that is bigger than yourself. For me that is people. I love so deeply which is what drives my empathy for people and desire to help people that can’t see a path forward. My motivation comes from knowing how amazing I am at connecting with others. Knowing that they trust me and if I stop today or decide not to show up tomorrow then something will stop. Those people who I help show up, will not show up. I understand my strength and influence so that drives me to show up for my mentees who are expecting that of me.
You are one of the youngest balck councilwoman to be elected in Maryland. How did you/do you overcome the challenges of being a young black political leader? I overcame challenges by being a human. At the end of the day we are all humans who have faced one challenge or another. We have to get to the part of life where we are just humans who can relate to each other on a deeper level beyond gender, race, or age. I don’t pay attention to the notions that people place on me because that is none of my business. What I focus on is my community and that consists of women, men, black, white, young, and old. Representing people means understanding their struggles and fears to bring about solutions that will help us overcome them. That doesn’t mean that black people don’t face struggles or that some level of inequality doesn’t exist. It means that we have to overcome how we see each other to get to equality. So that’s what I do, focus on being a human and I find that people relate.
What Inspired you to run for office? What advice do you have for young women who want to run for office? The unheard. I was tired of politicians who hear but don’t listen. People tell you exactly what their struggles are and it’s up to our elected leaders to take themselves out of the equation and think about the bigger picture to influence change. We need people who will do the work. People who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo because that’s the only way that we arrive at evolution. My advice to any young woman who wants to run for office is to go and do it now. What are you waiting for? You are equipped with all that you need to succeed today, right now. Don’t wait for people to believe in you. You start from where you are and believe in yourself. Decide on what you want to change and take the steps now towards changing.
Being a councilwoman and tech leader is akin to having two full time jobs. How do you marry your passions for tech and politics? I love this question because so many people don’t understand. I am driven and motivated by service to others which includes building platforms that raise others up and create opportunities for people to thrive. I believe that technology is the great equalizer of what’s to come. Technology will change the way that we serve our constituents or customers. Technology will take some many little boys and girls out of poverty and help them see their true potential. Technology will force us to have accountability in being inclusive, fair, and transparent. Technology will force us to change the way that we connect so that people do not become isolated. You see, there is no separation between the two because the two are both a part of me. Technology made it possible for me to stay connected to my family in different countries and it will take another girl to their dreams like it did me. I don’t want to think of myself as a politician because I’m not. I’m an advocate who is crazy about people and helping them in whatever capacity that may be.
Most millennial women find it difficult to break into a new industry – yet alone two new industries! How did you break into tech and politics? I broke into technology and public services by being my authentic self. I put myself out there and made my intentions known. When you are confident in your abilities, why question them? Why look for people to validate you and give you permission to what you can achieve? You don’t need it. All you need are your receipts and skills because a fresh perspective is valuable. We are the ones who devalue it by saying we are not good enough. I showed people me and shared my ideas. Funny enough, they believed it and took a chance on me. 717 people took a chance on me. Just like My first manager, Rhonda Cook and General Manager, Wes Anderson took a chance on me. If you share your dreams with people, present your ideas, work hard, and be you one day your light will shine so bright and somebody will see it.