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Cynthia Wallace Makes An Impact Through Strategic Leadership

July 2020

Spelman alumna Cynthia WallaceCynthia Wallace, C’93, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party’s 9th Congressional District, recently became a member of the City of Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan Strategic Advisors which will guide how investments are utilized in Charlotte, North Carolina over the next 20 years.

The Plan will include a Capital Investment Plan, a 2030 Transit Plan, and plans for public art. As an advisor, Wallace will contribute to the development of community improvements and grow a healthy and sustainable community where people live, work, and play
 
The granddaughter of farmers, Wallace grew up in the small, rural town of Springfield, Georgia. She is the daughter of Mary T. Wallace and the late Homer Lee Wallace, the first African American county commissioner elected in the history of Effingham County in Georgia (1985-2002). He was also co-founder of his local NAACP in the turbulent 1960s, and it is from him that Wallace says she inherited her political genes.

Spelman Alumna Cynthia WallaceHelping Youth Achieve Their Educational Goals

Wallace earned a bachelor of science degree, cum laude, in mathematics from Spelman; and a master’s degree in statistics from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. Her support of young people and their pursuit of education spurred her to serve on the Atlanta Inter Alumni Council which raised funds for college education. When she re-located to Charlotte, Wallace helped to re-charter the Charlotte Chapter of NAASC and served as chapter president from 2008 - 2012 and encouraged young African American women from North Carolina to pursue higher education.

During Wallace's NAASC presidency, the chapter launched a scholarship fund and raised more than $10,000 for its inaugural Dovey “Mae” Johnson Roundtree scholarship fund in honor of the late Spelman graduate and Charlotte native who was a renowned civil rights activist, attorney, and ordained minister. She has served as chair of the 9th Congressional District of the North Carolina Democratic Party since January 2017. Due to her leadership, the 9th District executive committee implemented, with great success, an eight-county strategy. Wallace's 25-year career in the financial services industry has enhanced her expertise in risk management and regulations where she has worked for three fortune 500 financial services companies.

Read More About Spelman's New Dovey Johnson Roundtree Scholarship

A certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Wallace spent one year in Paris, France on an international risk assignment because of her laser focus on interpreting risks and developing strategies to support her company’s compliance with federal and corporate guidelines and regulations.

Always seeking to mentor and provide support to others in her sphere, Wallace co-founded the Charlotte chapter of one of her company’s diversity networks in 2007. Her education and work experience along with her rural upbringing, combined with her specialized work in the financial services industry and her familiarity with urban and suburban environments, enable her to understand and be responsive to the culture and economic needs of residents from all walks of life, particularly those who reside in Charlotte's District 09.

 

Q&A With Cynthia Wallace

What made you want to attend Spelman and what did you have to accomplish to get here? 

I attended summer programs in high school at Howard University and Clemson University. Based on those diverse programs, I decided an experience gained at a HBCU was for me. When I was a high school senior, Spelman began to reach out to me and once I researched the College and learned about the challenging academic experience coupled with the vibrant Atlanta University Center, I became very interested in the institution. When I stepped on the campus as a high school senior for the first time, I immediately realized it was the school for me -- a school that supports, empowers and challenges Black women was for me.


In order to stay at Spelman, I had to work each summer. Those work experiences -- like spending a couple of summers working in a paper factory in my hometown or doing a summer math research program at Northern Illinois University -- shaped the person I am today,

Identify the lessons you learned inside and outside of the classroom that you still use today? 

I learned that you must take time to listen to people because your conversation and support may change someone’s life. Months before graduation, a short conversation about graduate school with Dr. Sylvia Bozeman, chair of the math department at the time, shifted the course of my post-Spelman life and impacted where I am today.

I’m from a small rural town. Participating on spring break tours with the College's New Life Inspirational Gospel Choir enabled me to travel more than I ever had and see parts of the country I had never seen. Those trips helped broaden my horizons. Professors at Spelman challenged me, nurtured me and showed me they cared. Those are the experiences I had as a math major spending hours in Tapley Hall. Today, I try to challenge and nurture individuals while I mentor.

What makes you most proud about being an alumna of Spelman?

Where do I start? I’m proud I graduated from a school that has a history of amazing graduates who made a choice to change the world even before it became our tagline. It was a privilege to walk the same halls that alumna Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children's Defense Fund, walked. It’s a unique experience to have professors like Dr. Christine King Farris who have life experiences that went beyond the walls of Spelman. 

What words of advice do you have for current and future students of this institution?

This is the advice I would like to give students...

Start of QuoteMake sure your experience at Spelman is well rounded. Push yourself End of Quoteacademically, make sure you have enriching and significant experiences each summer, and make sure your extracurricular life at Spelman is as fulfilling as it was when you were in high school.

Cynthia Wallace With Spelman sisters During Election Night "Also, be flexible in your life. You will make a big decision as an 18 or 19 year old freshman or sophomore about your major which sets up a large part of your early post-Spelman life BUT have courage to go a different direction after you graduate based on your passion if your interest changes."

About 12 years ago, I started to volunteer politically which is my passion. That volunteer experience led me now to run for U.S. Congress in North Carolina 9th District in what will be a career changing moment when I win and become the first Spelman woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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