Q&A with City Councilwoman Roxy Ndebumadu

Roxy Ndebumadu

City Council | Bowie, MD

Roxy NdebumaduTell us about your background. What are the experiences, including education, that make up the person you currently are?

My childhood was not easy, but it made me who I am today. I was born with a paralyzed left arm due to Erb’s palsy. My mother had immigrated here from Nigeria and was raising me on her own. As a young child, I was subjected to traumas, such as different forms of abuse, from people who were meant to care for me while my mother worked long hours to support us. Growing up with no one to fight for me taught me to fight for myself. My teen years brought more trauma and difficulties living between Nigeria and America. I went to work at age thirteen to support myself and help my mother with the bills. Some of my family members overseas were helpful and supportive, but others told me I wouldn’t amount to anything in life. At first, this destroyed my confidence. But deep down, I knew they were wrong. Having no one to turn to taught me to rely on myself.

I didn’t have money for college, so I worked full-time in between classes to pay for my education. At Howard University before graduating, I participated in one of the largest technology implementations to date across the Health Division, to enable continuous learning for students in the university’s health schools. That’s when I learned that technology would be the greatest equalizer to and with sheer hard work to solve problems, I could enhance people’s lives. Encountering challenges taught me continuous optimism.

I’ve always been curious about the metrics of success: how companies survive and thrive while doing good on a global level. This curiosity fed my interest in innovation and led me to pursue a certificate in Strategy & Performance Management after graduation. It also led me to Microsoft. Having the opportunity to participate in company-supported programs that work with small businesses and large corporations in Latin America and Africa to provide advice on improving efficiency, enhancing consumer experiences, and cutting organizational costs is one of the reasons why I joined Microsoft. Studying success and policy taught me how to help others be successful.

Today, I am redefining how tech is used both domestically and internationally, spearheading the modernization of cloud businesses and the development of tactical and strategic workstreams. I have taught my teams the value of intentionally leading complex systems focused on human-centered design at an unheard-of scale. As a member of the different communities, I’ve given my time, talent, and funds to support volunteer organizations and contribute back to the community and the world. My story has made me who I am today.

Much of my inspiration for the philanthropic work that I do stems from being a domestic abuse survivor. Surviving abuse inspired me to help fundraise for the Women’s Center, an organization that provides abuse survivors and families with scaled counseling, education, support, and advocacy services along with leadership and career mentoring. My passion for world issues steered me to become a part of the Robert S. Brookings Society, Washington, D.C. chapter at the Brookings Institution, a think tank that engages thought leaders in conversation around policy and change-making, where I recently helped lead discussions on technology access and the urban and rural divide. Serving as a mentor for Women in Technology, a program that promotes technology careers, highlights rising stars, and emphasizes STEM education, showed me how we can use technology to open up possibilities and opportunities for the next generation.

What was your trigger moment and why this specific 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 so I ran for City Council. I chose City Council because I wanted to enact change that was the closest to a constituent.

What made you feel qualified to run for office?

My life story. Many people told me I was young to consider political office. But I’ve lived through plenty of tough experiences in my life, and they gave me the courage to survive, transcend, and grow. That’s what I bring to my hometown of Bowie, as the current elected City Councilwoman.

Do you work full-time or part-time?


Most people don’t know what their elected official does on a daily basis. What’s a typical day looking like for you?

Although my position is part-time, it ends up being full-time work. In addition to that, I maintain full-time employment with Microsoft. I honestly juggle the two. I would work on Microsoft during the day and City Council at night. Ashley Montgomery, an angel, leads all my operations voluntarily including directly managing my interns so that we can scale on impact quicker. My interns and student model are at the heart of my efficiency.

Additionally, they might not know what their elected official is responsible for. What is your role in comparison to other elected offices on your level?

The Council is the governing body of the city, elected by, and responsible to the voters for the operation of the city. The Council has oversight function and general responsibility for municipal affairs through budgeting and setting policy.

What do you think people would be surprised to know someone in your position does?

We deal with everything that affects the quality of life for a constituent. We often serve as an advocate influencing things that we have minimal control over that would be of benefit to our residents. Oftentimes, that means getting creative to serve certain challenges.

What are 3-5 skills needed to be successful in the elected office you served in/are currently serving in?

Tenacity, grit, vision, customer service, and humility.

What’s the best part about serving in elected office?

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.

What has been the accomplishment you’re most proud of while in office?

The city of Bowie is partnering with Rosetta Stone to help residents learn new skills for free. For me, it was getting this vision and bringing it to life. Seeing this problem and acting on it. Over 15% of Bowie residents lack proficiency in English, while 84% of Bowie’s population only speaks English at home. This initiative aims to address both ends of this spectrum by providing residents free tools to help enhance the language abilities of non-native English speakers, native English speakers, and any other resident who seeks to learn new skills. Considering the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative will also allow residents to enhance their professional skills by improving their language abilities to expand their options in their job search.

In terms of finances, how much money did you have to raise for your campaign?


What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who’s thinking about running for the position you serve/have served in their community?

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.