Meet 35 Under 35 Speaker and Mentor, Faith Ngunjiri

Written by: Brady Drake

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

Faith Ngunjiri is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Leadership with the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College. She also serves as a speaker and mentor for United Way’s 35 Under 35 Leadership Development Program.

How do you try to impact the lives of young adults in secondary education?
I love to mentor, coach, sponsor, inspire and inform my students. Some of the feedback I receive from former students is that my vulnerability in relating to them is part of my charm! Seriously, hearing a student tell me in private how something I said in public, such as sharing with them that I am a divorced single parent as part of explaining that sometimes I may have to cancel class if schools are closed due to weather — they feel that they can relate with me. Even the fact that they call me Dr. Faith rather than Dr. Ngunjiri indicates to them that I am approachable and available to them. For some of my students, that relationship moves beyond the classroom to inviting them to my home and into my life where I can coach and mentor them long past their time in my course. 

You are passionate about empowering female leaders – what is one thing we all can do to advance leadership in any organization?
We all have to be intentional about expanding our definition of leadership, recognizing that while positions are useful, what matters most is the influence that a leader can have, with or without formal positions. As women, we often do have to lead, to influence, without the benefit of the titles and privileges that often accrue to leaders. Yet, we can accomplish much by being creative and resourceful in our problem-solving. Obviously this isn’t to say that organizations shouldn’t be investing in developing women and promoting them into positions of authority. Organizations that fail to do so are doing themselves a disservice, missing out on all the skills, talents and knowledge that women bring to the table.

What drives you?
I am driven by a love for my two little girls, they inspire me to desire to be better as a model for them. I am driven by my deep spirituality, which serves as the source of courage, conviction and the compulsion to act in pursuit of social justice goals. I am also driven by the memory of my mother — she worked so hard to ensure that my sibling and I received the education we needed to rise above the realities of our childhood – the poverty we found ourselves in due to our dad’s irresponsibility. So in gratitude to her, I am driven to do more, be more, serve more, because I am standing on her shoulders.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.