Dr. Dorothy Nyambi on Breaking Barriers: 2023 Burton and Ralene Walls Distinguished Speaker Series Lecturer

On May 10, Seattle Pacific University students, faculty, and staff gathered in Upper Gwinn to share a meal and listen to a talk from Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, President and CEO of the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).

The event began with a welcome from School of Business, Government, and EconomicsDean, Dr. Ross Stewart, who introduced the event’s history. Following Dean Stewart’s welcome was an introduction from Mr. Burton Walls, the namesake of the event. He shared that the purpose of the event is to give back, and his belief that each student has the potential to become a distinguished speaker. This year’s Distinguished Speaker, Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, was then welcomed to the stage to a round of applause. She began her lecture on theme of breaking barriers.

Dr. Nyambi outlined her journey of growing up in Cameroon to becoming the President and CEO of MEDA. She shared her initial path to becoming a medical doctor, and how, after working in the field for some time, she realized that she could better serve people through pursuing systemic change in a public health career. She also shared the challenges she faced navigating her career a woman of color.

Throughout her lecture, Dr. Nyambi discussed invaluable lessons from her leadership experience, such as the importance of solving problems through listening to others and, in particular, listening to diverse voices. She also insisted that sticking to your values and being who you are is extremely important to leadership.

As a college student, I am left with two major takeaways from Dr. Nyambi’s lecture. One key point that both Dr. Nyambi and Mr. Walls shared was that being told “no” is a step in the journey. Second, that the calling you have now may grow and evolve over time. Dr. Nyambi explained that her career journey was not straight; that it included many twists and turns and overcoming obstacles along the way.

Dr. Nyambi also addressed how her faith inspired her work, sharing that “there’s a Greater God up there, but that doesn’t prevent you from doing hard work.” God is not a substitute for doing hard work, but should be the inspiration for our hard work.

The event concluded with an insightful Q&A session, led by Center for Faithful Business Executive Director Dr. JoAnn Flett.

The School of Business, Government, and Economics and the Center for Faithful Business at Seattle Pacific University are grateful to Dr. Nyambi for speaking at this year’s Distinguished Speaker Series event, and to Mr. Burton and Mrs. Ralene Walls for sponsoring this event.

Reflection written by SBGE third-year student Jenna Gillam.

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director



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