50 for 50 Alumni Profile: Emily Mulvoy Kornegay '99

Headshot of Emily Mulvoy Kornegay

3 minute read

Charlotte Albright

Alumni Features Diversity and Inclusion

When Michigan native Emily Mulvoy Kornegay '99 entered the college she'd set her sights on when she was only about 10 years old, she expected to major in chemistry. But taking a course in government changed everything. For the past five years, as assistant CFO for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, she's managed HUD's $67 billion annual budget, overseeing strategic planning, customer experience, and performance management.  Kornegay has also held leadership positions at the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget. For her, public service has turned into a long-running career that transcends politics.

I've always liked math and science. But then I took a government class and realized I loved government. I got a Rockefeller Center grant to go to India for a couple months and study government and international political economy, which was life-changing. I also spent two different terms in Washington, D.C., which introduced me to all different sorts of careers. Being told to go "roam the girdled earth" opened my eyes to a world of possibilities.

After graduating from Dartmouth, I worked in New York City in marketing, but when 9/11 happened, and I lost friends, I re-thought what I was spending time on. I earned a Master of Public Affairs degree at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, which is where I met my husband. We have eleven-year-old-twin girls.

Housing has quietly been in crisis for my entire life. There's been no single inflection point, but we look around now and see huge increases in unsheltered homelessness and a lack of affordable housing across the country. Our anti-poverty programs that support rental assistance have also lost ground in a lot of ways.

The mission of trying to put the president's budget together, and to help the White House communicate with Congress and federal agencies, doesn't change, no matter who's in office. This is my fourth administration: two Democrats, two Republicans. The American populace deserves strong institutions. No matter who I vote for, we all need to stay at our desks and do our jobs. There was a funny quote from a 1960s OMB manual that said, "If Martians were to come to D.C. and try to take over our system of government, the people here at the White House Office of Management budget would stay and ensure an orderly transition of power."

Dartmouth gave me a sense of purpose and the confidence to believe that I could go out there and actually be part of a solution. Not that I'm going be the single technocrat who solves the nation's housing problems, but I can be part of a collaborative group that is helping to keep the wheels of government rolling.