She’s expected to know anything and everything from administration policies to random pop culture references for press conferences and interviews. She’s a mediator. If the mayor draws a blank, that’s when it’s her time to shine.
Profile: While most of Philadelphia sleeps, an alarm buzzes at 3 a.m. After prayer and a morning workout, Louisa Mfum-Mensah ’12 gets to work. As the special aide to Mayor Jim Kenney, she compiles event details and talking points for the day.
It’s funny how things work out, because this isn’t her first rodeo serving a community leader. While at Messiah, she worked in the office of President Kim Phipps, honing an already detail-oriented skill set.
After graduating with a degree in politics, she served with organizations such as Global Citizen and worked in Kenney’s Office of Education as a development assistant before moving into her current role.
Mfum-Mensah is meticulous. “So much of my job requires me to pick up little details that others don’t notice,” she said. She’s expected to know anything and everything from administration policies to random pop culture references for press conferences and interviews. She’s a mediator. If the mayor draws a blank, that’s when it’s her time to shine.
This same attention to detail helps her separate work life and personal life. “I’ve really had to practice radical self-care. I know self-care is a trendy topic these days, but to me, it’s more than face masks and pedicures,” she said.
That self-care involves some personal boundaries in the form of getting a good night’s sleep.
“Everyone in my office knows to prioritize communicating with me before 10 p.m.,” she explained.
After 10, she mutes all notifications for text messages, emails and calls until she wakes up the next day.
She reserves one day each day to do something she loves, such as lunch with friends, reading a book or going for a long walk.
When her alarm goes off at 3 a.m., she’s up and ready to do it all again.
“In my office, we put aside the notion of ‘self’ and put others at the forefront of our decision-making,” she said. “The mayor is a servant-leader at his core. He strives every day to meet the needs of those suffering in our communities.”
Born in Ghana and raised in Canada, she says Philadelphia holds a special place in her heart. “Philly definitely now feels like home to me,” she said.
Of all the issues, concerns and affairs in the City of Brotherly Love, the current opioid epidemic stands out to Mfum-Mensah. “My hope for our city is that we find a way to get everyone access to the help they deserve. The mayor always says, ‘There are no throwaway people,’ and I really resonate with that.”
— Jake Miaczynski ’20