Cynthia Liston


Cynthia supports postsecondary transitions, student success, and workforce alignment by conducting thoughtful policy research and by leading systemic and collaborative efforts to improve education and workforce outcomes, especially for traditionally underserved students.

Previously Cynthia was a program officer at the John M. Belk Endowment where she managed $30 million in grant partnerships. Prior to that, she served as Associate Vice President for Policy Research & Special Projects at the North Carolina Community College System Office, where she led comprehensive developmental education redesign and math pathways across 58 community colleges and served as a state policy lead for early guided pathways work supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Cynthia also had an extensive career in policy research and evaluation for Regional Technology Strategies, a national economic and workforce development policy non-profit, and spent her first professional years as a legislative staffer on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Cynthia holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science and French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Why this work?

I am motivated to do this work because of the almost unique impact that meaningful credential and degree attainment can have in changing the trajectory of someone’s life. And, at a more macro level, I believe that talent is everywhere, and we are all better off when systems unlock the aspirations and success of everyone in our communities.

Why ESG?

ESG focuses on the ‘connective tissue’ between K12, postsecondary systems, and employers — which is where I think we have the potential to see real gains and payoffs for students and the economy. ESG allows me to use my skills and background to help create well-aligned and responsive educational systems that bring employers into the picture as valuable partners and contributors.

Connect with Cynthia

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