Cynthia M. Gibson, Ph.D., is founder and principal of Cynthesis Consulting, which specializes in evaluation, public policy research and analysis, program development, strategic planning, survey design, marketing and communications (including digital/social media). With more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, she’s held leadership roles for several national foundations and nonprofits and become a highly regarded strategist, thought leader, writer, and practitioner on issues ranging from civic engagement and nonprofit management to health care and education.
Working with a diverse group of thought leaders and practitioners striving to bring a more open source approach to nonprofit management and strategic philanthropy, Cynthia believes that effective consulting today must harness a wide spectrum of collective knowledge—offline and online—that helps individuals, nonprofits, and foundations identify, test, implement and evaluate solutions with the potential for real impact. Her skill in spotting trends, identifying themes and distilling complex issues in ways that can be communicated and understood more broadly has helped to leverage philanthropic, advocacy and field-building opportunities gleaned from that synthesis process.
Cynthia’s monograph for the Case Foundation, for example–Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement–served as the frame for a new “open source” approach to grantmaking she helped to develop and that was highlighted in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. As a program officer at Carnegie Corporation of New York in the area of Strengthening U.S. Democracy, she developed and oversaw two national grantmaking programs in strengthening the nonprofit/philanthropic sector and youth civic engagement that received national acclaim for their strategic focus and measurable outcomes. As program officer, Cynthia was named to The Nonprofit Times’ “Power and Influence Top 50” and authored publications that became civic education field standards and catalysts for a national advocacy campaign. At People for the American Way, Cynthia produced public education videos with television producer Norman Lear that raised millions of dollars for the organization, the content for which was culled from a videotape library on ultrafundamentalism that she created
Cynthia is also a widely published author and active blogger on issues affecting the nonprofit/philanthropic sector—including education, strategy, volunteering/civic engagement, philanthropy, and social policy. She has a national reputation as being a connector, networker and information curator whose email blasts reach hundreds of influential from a range of different fields across the country.
Cynthia has taught at the New School University’s Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy and been a senior fellow at Tufts University. She also has served as a member of numerous advisory committees, selection panels and boards, including VolunteerMatch.org, Mobilize.org, Nonprofit Quarterly, Public Allies, Public Conversations Project, and Idealist.org. Gibson has a B.A. in psychology from Pennsylvania State University (Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude); an M.S.W. from Catholic University of America; and a Ph.D. in social welfare policy/administration from Rutgers University.