Advisory Board Spotlight: Cynthia Watson

The Community Fund for Women & Girls

Cynthia Watson. Credit: Judy Sirota Rosenthal.

When Cynthia Watson was first asked to consider becoming part of the Community Fund for Women & Girl’s Advisory Board, she decided to attend a Fund-sponsored event. She had worked for the City of New Haven and for a nonprofit and was familiar with the work of advisory boards. But this board, she says, was something else altogether. She was immediately drawn in.

“There were front line folks, executive directors, people from foundations, people who were retired and people in the corporate world – a very well-rounded group of women from New Haven and Greater New Haven who all had a very profound interest in supporting women and girls,” Watson says. “I’m often telling my daughters and nieces and women in the community about the board – how the board looks like me.”

She went to that first meeting and stayed. She likes how the board is both collaborative and decisive. The board takes great pride in their work, “like the Grants Committee, they take time to research. Their due diligence is awesome, bringing information – qualitative and quantitative data – but they don’t take forever. Then we talk and make a decision,” she says. “The women on the board have a drive to want to get something done and we work together to get it done. Everyone has a strength they bring. And there’s a synergy like I’ve never seen anywhere.”

“There’s a learning that happens too,” adds Watson, who has long volunteered in the New Haven community. “If it’s a topic I’m not familiar with I listen to people who are experts in their field. You’re encouraged to be part of those conversations, to be inquisitive because we know these are the same questions that may be raised by the community...”

She’s proud of the way The Fund and The Community Foundation pivoted as the pandemic hit.

“It was scary for all of us. At first, we checked in to see how everyone was doing. Then we went right to `how can we help in the communities?’ Some of the needs may or may not be specific to our goals before the pandemic, but we shifted and focused on asking `what can we do to help our community now?’”

This article was part of the Winter 2021 edition of The Community Fund for Women & Girls' newsletter.