NORTH EAST — Kathleen Kunda has lived her life under the axiom of paying it forward to make the community a better place. Not just for those within a circle of friends and family, but the community as a whole. She dedicated her professional career to ensuring Cecil County’s youth had every opportunity to own their future.
It is this commitment, devotion, and passion that made her the ideal recipient of the Mary A. Maloney Distinguished Service Award. This award is presented annually by the Cecil College Foundation to individuals who are graciously dedicated to public service.
“When I was told I would be receiving the Mary A. Maloney Distinguished Service Award, I was totally surprised. It is humbling to think others view me in the light of deserving such a distinguished honor,” said Kunda. “It makes me want to do more so I can truly feel I deserve this award.”
In 1970, Mary Maloney became the first female county commissioner in the State of Maryland. During which time, she established the Cecil County Department of Public Works, was responsible for proper implementation of the planning department, and actively participated in the Maryland Association of Counties. Along with serving on the Cecil College Board of Trustees for 24 years, she also served on numerous other committees, councils, and boards within the county.
Kunda’s accomplishments are just as admirable, having served as an Americorp service learning coordinator assigned to CCPS, Women in Defense STEM Scholarship committee, the Boys and Girls Clubs board, a Northeastern Maryland Technology Council (NMTC) volunteer, and the Susquehanna Workforce Network Youth Council. In the business community, she has served on the Elkton Chamber and Alliance board, the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce membership committee, Union Hospital Patient Advocacy committee, and elected to the Cecil County Republican Central Committee.
“I am honored to be in the position to bring a different perspective to help those in need, but it is the individuals around me that have enabled me to accomplish so much,” said Kunda, who served on the board of directors for the Cecil College Foundation.
Kunda’s dedication to public service began early in life, carrying over to her professional career. After earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Wilmington University, Kunda took a position in the Cecil County Public Schools. She retired from CCPS in 2012 following 14 years in the role of Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council coordinator and Base Realignment Closure liaison.
Known as an influential networker and with extensive experience in the field of education, Kunda was tapped to align STEM programs in CCPS and Harford County Public Schools with that of Cecil College and Harford Community College. Under her guidance, the program provided all students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades to investigate the opportunities in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In addition, students had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“Initially, the STEM project started as a three-year commitment with leadership from APG (Aberdeen Proving Ground), Cecil and Harford College presidents, public school superintendents and members of NMTC (Northeastern Maryland Technology Council). The STEM project was expanded over five-years and reached over 8,000 students.”
Kunda recalled one of the last STEM nights hosted at Cecil College. “Along with APG personnel, technology businesses from both counties, the faculty and students at Cecil College embraced the opportunity to create hands-on STEM activities for the students and parents. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the young participants, our students or the parents.”
Her guidance on educational matters was tapped once more in January 2017 when she was asked to become a member of Cecil College’s Board of Trustees by Gov. Larry Hogan’s office. During her time on the board, Cecil College has completed the expansion of the Physical Education Complex along with the building of the Engineering and Math Building.
Now, as Cecil College prepares for the fall semester during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kunda is among the board members providing sage wisdom to the leadership team that is guiding the institution through unprecedented events.
Under the leadership of Cecil College President Dr. Mary Way Bolt, the institution completed the spring semester through remote learning and stood on a solid financial foundation.
“I am so impressed with the leadership at the College in the midst of the pandemic. The staff, faculty, and administration have done extraordinary work getting the students online for their coursework. To do the work, the leadership has reached out to every department at the College,” said Kunda.
“(Cecil College) was ahead of the curve for online learning and getting our students and faculty connected. Dr. Bolt stayed in constant contact with Board of Trustees’ Chairman Dr. Mark Mortenson. Cecil College website provided up-to-date information for the entire community. All this work while completing Middles State Accreditation site visit virtually and receiving a favorable evaluation.”
Outside of her community service, Kunda is the vice president and financial officer of Bench Bus Company, Inc. since 2015 after the passing of her husband, James. Other honors she has received include the NMTC Visionary Award, Junior Achievement of Delaware Legacy Award along with being named Cecil County Chamber member of the year. She was also presented with the Athena Award honoring women who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in both professional and community leadership.