Elizabeth  Buch '20, '21 MSL Headshot

Elizabeth Buch '20, '21 MSL

DEI Manager | City of Cedar Rapids

Master of Strategic Leadership

Passion Becomes Career

Elizabeth Buch ’20, ’21 MSL has been advocating for marginalized communities long before it became her career.

The importance of diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) became clear early on in Elizabeth’s life.

“I grew up in a single parent household. My mother immigrated here from Mexico, and Spanish was my first language,” shared Elizabeth.

Her and her family members’ experiences reinforced for Elizabeth the importance of providing support for marginalized people. When Elizabeth saw an opportunity to expand her interest in advocacy into her career at Collins Aerospace, she took it.

Education gave Elizabeth the opportunity to further her skills for her career. She began taking classes at Kirkwood Community College in 2013. Her passion for learning was reignited, and she decided to finish her bachelor’s degree at Mount Mercy University.

“I knew Kirkwood and Mount Mercy worked really well together to transfer credits, and I knew people who went to Mount Mercy that spoke very highly of it, so going to Mount Mercy was kind of a no-brainer for me,” shared Elizabeth.

I knew Kirkwood and Mount Mercy worked really well together to transfer credits, and I knew people who went to Mount Mercy that spoke very highly of it, so going to Mount Mercy was kind of a no-brainer for me.

Elizabeth Buch '20, '21 MSL
DEI Manager | City of Cedar Rapids

The adult accelerated program allowed Elizabeth to pursue her degree while maintaining her full-time job. This meant Elizabeth was able to practice her new skills in real-time.

“What really stuck out to me was that the classes aligned with the positions I was in as I was going to school—I thought that was perfect, to be able to take that skill and bring it to my every day work,” said Elizabeth.

It was in her Corporate Social Responsibility class that Elizabeth first heard about Mount Mercy’s Master of Strategic Leadership (MSL) program.

“The way they talked about, it sounded really interesting,” shared Elizabeth. “So, I kept that piece of paper for over a year, and when I graduated, I grabbed that paper to see what it was all about.”

For Elizabeth, getting her MSL presented an opportunity to gain meaningful skills that related directly to her career in advocacy.

In 2021, Elizabeth was named the first DEI Manager for the City of Cedar Rapids. The creation of the role reflected the city’s growing focus on DEI.

“This first year has really been focused on building awareness on what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean,” said Elizabeth. “Then understanding what processes and programs we already do in the city, so we can find ways to embed within that before just starting a bunch of new things.”

The tools Elizabeth gained during her master’s program were helpful in this new role. Listening, communicating, and negotiating were all essential as she got to know the organization and began to suggest new ideas. 

“Strategic leadership came so much into play with this position because you really do have to think about it in a very strategic way,” shared Elizabeth.

"Strategic leadership came so much into play with this position because you really do have to think about it in a very strategic way." – Elizabeth Buch '20, '21 MSL

Listening has been a huge part of Elizabeth’s role. She shared some of the best advice she received as she entered her new role, and encouraged current students to also put it into practice.

“When you are in a new space, take the time to listen to those who are in the room and understand what is going on around you,” said Elizabeth. “We have such a powerful ability to raise our consciousness if we just pause and listen.”

When you are in a new space, take the time to listen to those who are in the room and understand what is going on around you. We have such a powerful ability to raise our consciousness if we just pause and listen.

Elizabeth Buch '20, '21 MSL
DEI Manager | City of Cedar Rapids

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