Official Bio

Cynthia Gibson has more than 25 years of experience in the social sector as a consultant, senior staff person, and advisor for hundreds of U.S. and international nonprofits and philanthropic institutions. As principal of Cynthesis Consulting,™, she provides a wide range of services—including strategic planning and positioning, program development, evaluation, marketing/communications, and public policy research and analysis—for nonprofits and foundations across the country. (See Clients and Selected Assignments)

For foundations — international, national, corporate, and family — she has researched, designed, and launched multi-million dollar grant making and field-building strategies that have led to measurable results. For nonprofits, Gibson has raised millions of dollars as a development and communications director. For both, she has produced scores of publications and marketing materials that have influenced national discourse on important issues, designed new programs and evaluated existing ones, and developed strategic plans that have deepened the influence and reach of major organizations.

As a program officer at Carnegie Corporation of New York in the area of Strengthening U.S. Democracy, Gibson developed and implemented two programs—Strengthening the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector and Youth Civic Engagement/Civic Education—that received national acclaim. In addition to being recognized for as one of the Nonprofit Times’ “Power and Influence Top 50” for her leadership on social sector infrastructure development, Gibson authored publications that became standards for the youth civic engagement field and co-led national initiatives that advocated for school-based civic education.

As a consultant, Gibson has worked with scores of foundations and nonprofits focused on these and other issues for the Gates, Mott, Ford, Hewlett, Bloomberg, Robert Woods Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Barr Foundations, and New York Foundations; the JM Kaplan and Haas, Jr., Funds; The Foundation Center; National Council of Nonprofits; Philanthropy New York; and numerous others.

A nationally recognized expert on philanthropy, nonprofits, and civic engagement, Gibson is viewed as a thought leader whose many articles, blog posts and other writings have become “top reads” and fueled national conversations about these issues. She has taught at the New School University’s Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, was a senior fellow at Tufts University and served as a member of numerous committees, selection panels and boards, including,, Nonprofit Quarterly, Public Allies, Public Conversations Project, and 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; and a Ph.D. in social policy from Rutgers University. Her dissertation focused on nonprofit advocacy, membership, and representation (“In Whose Interest: Do National Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations Represent the Under-Represented?”).

Earlier in her career, Gibson served in senior staff positions at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, the Ms. Foundation for Women and the Partnership for Democracy (formerly The Youth Project). As an associate at People for the American Way, Gibson produced several videos with television producer Norman Lear and created the nation’s first videotape library on ultrafundamentalism that raised millions of dollars for the organization.