Bunmi Akinnusotu '03: Public servant with the Environmental Protection Agency
Bunmi Akinnusotu describes herself as “globalist, public servant, and future ambassador.” She merged the computer information systems and marketing skills learned at Bryant with graduate studies in sociology and urban policy. The result: a trajectory that positioned her on the frontlines of environmental policy.
“I learned how to use data and evidence to drive decision-making and tell powerful stories.”
As a special assistant in the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Land and Emergency Management, Akinnusotu supported international climate change initiatives related to resource efficiency and wasted food. She also developed a systematic way to track and report the implementation of a presidential executive order issued to protect communities from chemical accidents. She credits Bryant for helping her develop the data base and communications skills that were central to her success. “I learned how to use data and evidence to drive decision-making and tell powerful stories,” she explains.
For Akinnusotu, learning – and re-learning – what you think you know are critical. Sometimes, she explains, that means you’ll be in an uncomfortable position or an unfamiliar place. She earned a spot on Bryant’s women’s volleyball team – and went on to become a star player – by working relentlessly, challenging herself to learn from her high-performing teammates, and embracing new ways to play the sport.
“You'll never know it all,” she explains. “But when you learn new things, you not only remain relevant, it keeps you energized. Learning new skills and information makes you vulnerable but also builds confidence.”
Akinnusotu firmly believes in the value of experience. “There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ paths when you're first starting out,” she counsels new graduates. “If you didn't get the job you wanted or end up at the company you wanted, it's O.K. Know that every experience is just that – experience. It will teach you something about yourself and the world. Be thoughtful about your steps but don't burden yourself with trying to make the right move.”
Akinnusotu is proud to have worked in the Obama administration. "Working for government and under his administration completely transformed how I view our social problems and gave me a greater appreciation for the Office of the President. Public policy is not easy work, especially at the federal level where one has to consider the needs of the entire nation – a nation with vastly different cultural, political, economic, religious, and social perspectives. It has been a life-changing experience, not only to serve the President, but to be a public servant.”
That close-up view has fueled another goal: Akinnusotu aspires to be appointed the nation’s first Nigerian-American ambassador and, in the meantime, to use her experience to create more opportunities “for people of color to become globally-minded thinkers and doers.”