About Us: Our Team

President and CEO
Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

    Languages Spoken: English, Spanish, Portuguese

Cynthia leads EMpower’s global team with enormous passion and purpose. She believes that everyone has a superpower, and that young people in particular “have so much potential when opportunities are open to them.” Though a longtime Brooklyn resident, Cynthia can often be found on a plane, on her way to one of EMpower’s 15 focus countries to have a thought-provoking conversation with a grantee partner, listen to young people’s ideas, or engage with staff from Delhi to Hong Kong, or Directors from Los Angeles to London.

Cynthia embarked on a nonprofit career with a focus on global women’s health, a logical path as, since school days, she loved foreign languages and chances to travel, was a passionate feminist, and pursued advanced studies in international affairs and development. Early on, she was with EngenderHealth, ultimately leading innovation and scaling programs as Vice President, Program Initiatives, and later as Vice President of Resource Development. Subsequently, as Vice President of Programs at the International Women’s Health Coalition, she oversaw grantmaking and international policy programs, implemented its first institutional monitoring and evaluation system, and led initiatives for organizational development.

Excited by the opportunity to help shape a young organization, Cynthia joined EMpower in 2005, bringing her expertise and insights to the issues that women and girls face around the globe, and initiating and leading its strategic focus on youth living at the margins in emerging market countries. Her inclusive, thoughtful leadership style of bringing people together and collaborating with partners helped give wings to the organization’s powerful mission.

Cynthia attended the Senior Executive Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and holds a Masters in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts from Denison University. She has spoken and published extensively, the latest being several articles in Alliance magazine including “Finding the Right Path: One funder network’s journey towards racial justice” (coauthored with Denise Shannon, August 2017), and “Communities of Practice: The Multiplier Effect” (coauthored with Victoria Dunning, June 2015). Cynthia chairs the Board of Directors for Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a groundbreaking organization centering leadership and advocacy of girls and gender nonconforming youth of color to address school push-out, discrimination and sexual violence. GGE has played a key role in the #MeToo movement, and leads Me Too’s young women’s advisory council in NYC and its 10-city expansion strategy.

Cynthia is known for her love of quotes. Here is one of her favorites:

“Ring the bells that still can ring,

Forget your perfect offering,

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

- Leonard Cohen from the song “Anthem”

More about Cynthia Steele
A Word with Pontso Mafethe
Posted 14 July 2021
A Word with Jonathan Bayliss
Posted 04 June 2021
A Word With Ben Hall
Posted 17 May 2021
A Word with Swatee Deepak
Posted 13 April 2021
A Word with Maddy Foo
Posted 17 March 2021
A Word with Guillaume Fonkenell
Posted 16 February 2021
An Interview with Jim Valone, Wellington
Posted 20 January 2021
EMpower and Grantee Partners Featured in Forbes Series on Gender, Funding and COVID-19
Posted 14 May 2020
EMpower spotlights impact of COVID-19 on adolescent girls in India
Posted 11 May 2020
EMpower Update on COVID’s Impact: A Message from Cynthia Steele
Posted 20 March 2020
First ever EMpower Learning Exchange in Russia
Posted 19 October 2018
EMpower Joins Principal to Ring the NASDAQ Opening Bell!
Posted 09 January 2018
EMpower staff featured in Alliance Magazine!
Posted 08 September 2017
Annual Human Rights Funders Network Conference 2017
Posted 13 July 2017
EMpower Learning Journey on Adolescent Girls Programming in India
Posted 24 February 2017
Productive trip to Mexico!
Posted 13 January 2017
Citi e for Education rings closing bell at New York Stock Exchange!
Posted 08 November 2016
With and For Girls Awards in London!
Posted 07 November 2016
EMpower Learning Exchange on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Posted 02 November 2016
EMpower Visits Ghana!
Posted 04 October 2016
Minga Peru speaks at leading Human Rights Funders Conference
Posted 13 July 2016
EMpower’s Executive Vice President Attends the United State of Women Summit
Posted 11 July 2016

More Team

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

President and CEO

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Program Officer, India

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

UK Development Manager, Corporate Partnerships

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Director of Adolescent Girls and Gender Initiatives

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Vice President, Global Operations and Finance

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Hong Kong Development and Engagement Manager

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Program Officer, Africa & Russia

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Accountant

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

UK Development Manager

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Programme Officer, South Africa

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Country Director, India

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Global Operations Manager

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Development and Engagement Manager, India

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Global Communications Specialist

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Corporate Development Manager

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Vice President, Global Development

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Hong Kong Development and Operations Assistant

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Development Manager, Initiatives and Events

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Program Officer, India

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Girl Fellow, India

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Specialist, India and Global Communications

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Manager, Programs & Learning

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Program Officer, Latin America

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Consultant, Latin America

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Program Officer, Adolescent Girls

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Strategic Communications and Marketing Lead

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Senior Program Officer for East and Southeast Asia

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Assistant Program Officer

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Director of Finance

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Vice President, Programs

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.37 PM

Program Assistant, East and Southeast Asia

More About Us

Board & Underwriters

Find Out More

Our Staff

Find Out More

Reports & Financials

Find Out More

Latest News
View All News
Upcoming Events & Webinars

No upcoming public events listed currently.
Check back soon!

Recent Events & Webinars

View All Recent Events & Webinars

Connect with EMpower

Stay up-to-date on the latest EMpower news, highlights from our grantee partners, upcoming events, and more.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Make a Difference with EMpower

Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering marginalised young people.

Make a Donation

See more ways to make a difference

×