When Devyn Keith applied to the Master in Public Administration (MPA) program at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, he expressly wanted to learn about managing and leading in the public sector, with plans to pursue public office “up to the governor’s office (and beyond) one day.”
After graduation this June, Devyn Keith decided to run for city council in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. As a newcomer, he knew it would be a great challenge to unseat a seven-term incumbent. But his unusual platform resonated with 69% of the voters and, at age 27, he won all 14 voting precincts in his first-ever political race.
In an interview with AL.com, Keith said he planned to live in four different economically disenfranchised neighborhoods during his four-year term. “I’m not going to city hall, I’m bringing city hall to everybody’s front door. That’s a concept I don’t think we’ve quite grasped in local politics.”
Calling himself a “sponge,” Keith wants to understand the issues of his constituents so he can bring a resurgence to the neighborhoods where he grew up. According to the councilor’s website, he “has a robust, actionable plan to help Huntsville's District 1 become one of Alabama's premiere communities” including plans for infrastructure redevelopment, sustainable growth, and progressive policies addressing quality of life issues, crime, and other topics.
Graduate Program Director Amy E. Smith praised Keith’s vision as a public servant. “Devyn Keith represents the public values that are the core of our MPA program–social justice, fairness, professionalism, and a commitment to making life better in all communities. Huntsville, Alabama will no doubt advance in innovative directions with Councilman Keith. We are very proud of Devyn and his accomplishments.”
“Our country needs more public servants like Devyn,” said David W. Cash, dean of the McCormack Graduate School. “His pragmatic ideas are exactly what we need to build more equitable and sustainable societies. I applaud his spirit, courage, and energy to make a difference, and I wish him nothing but success.”