Alumna Uses Leadership Skills in Local Office and Beyond

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Cheverly, Maryland, was founded in 1918 and has just under 7,000 residents. Of those residents, over half of them are African American. Though Cheverly never had a person of color in office until Kayce Munyeneh (EML’14) became mayor.

“I didn’t want to be in politics,” said Munyeneh. At first I ran for council member, and I didn’t want to do that. At the time I was a new mother and I was the president of our civics association. I didn’t want to do that either. I wasn’t being modest or humble, I just didn’t want to do it. But there was a woman in my community who approached me and said ‘I think you’ll do a really good job.’ I ran uncontested.”

Munyeneh served three terms on the town council before becoming mayor. Due to her elected position as the vice mayor, she stepped in when the previous one stepped down. 

Before her time as a politician, Munyeneh already had a background in government. After graduating from college, she started a temporary position as a victim advocate for the D.C. superior court. After two years, Munyeneh moved on to work with the Metropolitan Police Department.

During her tenure in the D.C. government, Munyeneh attended a workforce development class and was stunned by the lack of leadership.

“I asked people in that class if they had ever had a great mentor or supervisor,” said Munyeneh. “I was stunned, there was not one person who said they had worked for someone phenomenal or great. I thought if all of these government employees are this disenchanted with their leadership, there must be some place where they teach you how to do this.”

Keeping this in mind, Munyeneh looked for ways to change this and came upon the Executive Master’s in Leadership (EML) program at Georgetown McDonough.

“I found the EML program, and I thought some of the concepts seemed like common sense,” said Munyeneh. “I sat in a leadership and an MBA class and we came across the same issues that I was seeing at work. I thought ‘wow everybody needs to be in this program right here.’”

Munyeneh applied and was accepted to the EML program in 2013. 

“Looking back, I had no idea that EML would have that sort of impact on me. The program did exactly what it was supposed to do — boost you from middle management to upper-level management, while also providing thoughtful mentorship.”

Munyeneh took the skills she learned at the Hilltop and started her own personal coaching company. 

“My capstone for EML was creating a company that would be a resource for people who are already in leadership positions,” said Munyeneh. “My final thesis had to do with your early personal history and whether you plateau in leadership and management.” 

From that capstone, Optimize LLC came to fruition. In addition to being mayor, Munyeneh runs that company, does contract work, and has time to show real estate listings. She credits Georgetown McDonough with her ability to effectively lead in these varying positions.

“I truly cherished my time in the EML14 cohort.” said Munyeneh. “I was able to hone a skill I didn’t know I had—which is scenario planning. Because of my strength in this area, our town was able to be a leading municipality at the start of the pandemic. We became the model for our neighbors and I still use the 7S model when reviewing our strategic plan as a town.”