In Cynthia Cunningham’s long career in public service, the concept of social justice has consistently played a central role. “I started as a neighborhood planner for the City of Indianapolis in 1989,” she says, “and pretty much everything I’ve done since then has been oriented around social change and social change initiatives.” In diverse roles working for the City of Indianapolis, The Polis Center, and the Indiana State Department of Health, has worked to measure the impact of services to populations which historically have been under-served.
Key to her efforts has been Cynthia’s understanding of the roles information systems and effective evaluation can play in shaping authentic social change. As an evaluator, she says, “I help organizations gain insight into the impacts their programs are having, and assist them in making adjustments that allow them to be more effective in what they do.”
Cynthia has extensive experience in formative and summative evaluation models and techniques, and in using the resulting data to develop effective service interventions. When she joined CSI in 2015, Cynthia knew she’d found a place where her talents and her values could work in concert. “Whether it’s the work CSI is doing to help programs trying to get health services to disparate populations, or assisting offender re-entry programs—pretty much everything CSI takes on has a social justice aspect to it,” Cynthia says, “and that’s what’s always motivated me most in my work.” That work has led to her relationships with a vast and varied list of local and national organizations, including: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Urban Institute, United Way of Central Indiana, Central Indiana Community Foundation, the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center, and the Indianapolis-based Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), among others.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make connections locally and nationally,” Cynthia says, “and these connections help me provide the best service possible to my clients at CSI by creating collaborations and relationships that support social change and social justice over the long haul.” Cynthia Cunningham graduated from Indiana University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She is a member of the American Evaluation Association and has been an Adult Volunteer for Girl Scouts of Hoosier Capitol. Cynthia is a published author of several scholarly articles and is a well-regarded speaker on the use of information systems to improve outcomes for families, neighborhoods, and communities. She has previously served as a Board member of the Ball State College of Architecture and Planning: Indianapolis Center, a member of the Executive Committee of the Urban Institute National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, and a member of the American Planning Association and American Planning Association Speakers Bureau.