About Cynthia Russell

CrossSector Partners

Cynthia Russell is a nonprofit management specialist with more than 30 years experience operating nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Her clients include nonprofit organizations working on affordable housing, immigration, social services, arts, and community development issues.

Executive Positions: Cynthia is a nonprofit practitioner and has held several leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. Prior to launching CrossSector Partners, she served as President and CEO of Connecticut Housing Investment Fund (CHIF), a statewide Community Development Financial Institution providing affordable housing financing and services throughout Connecticut. During her 9 years as CEO, Cynthia raised more than $25 million in financing for CHIF’s operations and loan programs. She also doubled the income of its profitable social enterprise, a loan servicing business that provided more than 60% of the organization’s operating income.

Nonprofit Sector Knowledge:

  • Cynthia currently serves as the part time Executive Director of The Goodnow Fund, a foundation providing support to organizations that help vulnerable families and children. She is responsible for managing the philanthropic activities of The Fund and serves as The Fund’s ambassador to the community.
  • Cynthia served as the Interim Executive Director of the International Institute of Connecticut. She guided the organization after the sudden death of the former director and helped the board of directors conduct a search for a new director.
  • As a member of a working board, Cynthia opened an office, raised operating funds to launch the organization’s start up activities, and managed the administrative functions for the New Hampshire Disaster Animal Response Team, a statewide nonprofit devoted to disaster planning and technical assistance for residents with companion animals.
  • Cynthia served as Deputy Commissioner of Housing and Community Development in Westchester County, New York where she managed the county’s $10 million housing and community development program and worked with nonprofit organizations and municipal governments. She also held positions as Vice President for Planning and Development for a nonprofit Medicaid managed care health insurance company, and as a program analyst with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Cynthia was the fundraising and public relations director for the Bay Area nonprofit Sempervirens Fund and was an intern with the Palo Alto Housing Corporation. She also served as the first administrator of the Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research and managed the Institute (formerly named the Center Research on Women) from 1974 to 1976.

Teaching Positions: Together with the Norwalk Community College (NCC) Extended Studies and Workforce Development Program, Cynthia developed the new Certificate in Nonprofit Management Program at NCC. The program provides an opportunity for individuals working or volunteering in the sector to learn more about the issues facing nonprofits. She taught three courses in the program for five years. She has also conducted workshops on nonprofit operations and fund development planning for the Norwalk SCORE Chapter.

Board Positions: Cynthia volunteers with a number of nonprofit organizations, and is on the Advisory Board of the Stanford University Clayman Institute and the Fairfield  County Advisory Council of All Our Kin. She was a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Community Development Advisory Board, served as Secretary of the Connecticut CDFI Alliance, Vice Chairman of the Connecticut Housing Coalition Board of Directors, and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Disaster Animal Response Team.

Education and Certifications: Cynthia has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Stanford University. She is certified as a BoardSource Nonprofit Board Educator and by AFP in Fundraising Fundamentals, and completed The Support Center’s Interim Executive Director training program. She also completed the Community Wealth Ventures Social Enterprise Business Planning training.

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