David Omwoyo, 39


Media Council of Kenya

He was a station manager at 22 and the donor relations manager at Egerton University at 31.

When David, the CEO of Media Council of Kenya (MCK), threw his hat into the ring in 2017 to steer the national media regulator, he was confident he was the man for the job.

“I didn’t have a predecessor. I had to compete with and to learn everything by myself,’’ he says.

At the time, MCK had only 16 staff and an annual budget of about Sh55 million. Now with more than 100 employees and regional offices, the institution has grown in leaps and bounds during his first term, with a budget of Sh1 billion. The number of journalists in Kenya has also grown to over 6,000.

"When you act with good intentions and mistakes occur along the way, you can always correct them."

Advocating for a free media space in Kenya and providing financial support to hundreds of journalists, though, is David’s proudest milestone. ‘‘During the pandemic, our Press Freedom and Media Training department has facilitated journalists with stipends, airtime, rent, food, and regular travel grants to allow them to do their work.’’

A staunch catholic, David previously served as the director of communications at the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and later as the (first non-priest) managing director of Catholic Church-owned Waumini Communications.

He was young, unconventional, and ambitious. “I had been thrown into management as a young journalist, managing people relations, budgets and fundraising. People trusted me, but I also trusted myself,’’ says David, who holds a Master’s degree in mass communication from Leicester University, UK.

When he joined MCK, David says he often suffered the impostor syndrome ‘‘because I was suddenly expected to make decisions on behalf of the council. Over time, however, you realise your decision is final and that you must do your best.’’

Belief in people, fear of failure, and a strong Catholic foundation have anchored his career, he says. ‘‘When you act with good intentions and mistakes occur along the way, you can always correct them,’’ he adds.

Raised in a family of peasants in Nakuru, David’s earlier days in poverty have also provided him with the added thrust “to toil so that I don’t go back there.”

James Kahongeh