Cindy Anderson, 2011 Distinguished Woman of the Year

Before she retired, Cindy worked as a speech therapist with the Grand Haven Area Public Schools. Her former co-workers described her as having an amazing way of engaging her students, combining humor, knowledge and a sincere desire to see them succeed. Cindy’s professional skills were considered “top notch,” and she made an effort to keep current with latest studies and teaching techniques in order to offer the highest quality instruction for her students.  She believed she had to be good, so her students could be better.  This commitment earned her the highest respect from colleagues, parents and students, and led to her receiving the district’s Excellence in Service award in 1987.

Several friends and colleagues who wrote in support of Cindy’s nomination cited her ability to identify a problem and tenaciously set out to fix it. Many of Cindy’s speech therapy students had communication and cognitive impairments, and she realized they would not be able to fully participate in one of the rites of the elementary years – the school play – so Cindy became playwright, producer and director.  She modified scripts so every student could participate, putting on several performances for the entire school and the students’ families.

Cindy’s supporters repeatedly used phrases such as “a generous heart” or “skills of the heart” to describe her compassion for others.  Clearly, she has forged a reputation for being an extremely giving person. Cindy was also known as a generous co-worker who was often sought out as a leader.  She was always willing to guide and support new therapists, while being a great collaborator with veteran staffers. She’s described as someone who has willingly and repeatedly stepped forward to help those less fortunate and to put forth her personal mission of hope.

Cindy is credited with being one of the key voices that helped shape C3Exchange’s inclusive vision and values, and she continues to help shape the direction of this spiritual community. She’s earned a reputation as the person you go to, to get things done. 

 We understand, however, that one thing you don’t want to do is sit down with Cindy over a glass of wine while she’s got a pot roast in the oven.  (Apparently multi-tasking – when it involves combustibles – is something she needs to work on.) It’s a good thing that Cindy is known for her sense of humor.

Cindy is also described as “powerful force for good” in our community.  One supporter said that when Cindy finds a cause she believes in, she is a force to be reckoned with! Cindy has not hesitated to jump in to help in any way she can when she has learned about individuals facing challenges or injustices.  She’s not afraid to pull a few strings to get help for someone in crisis, or to ask someone else to lend a hand.

That said, she’s no bulldozer.  Cindy wields her persuasive powers with grace, and is known to be the kind of leader who inspires while digging in to get things done.  She is known as someone who rarely says ‘no’ when asked, and someone who you can’t say ‘no’ to. With that in mind, you can see how Cindy would be the perfect person to partner with her friend, Wendy Creason, to create a local chapter of “100 or more Women who Care.”  The group has now enlisted more than 300 local women who each contribute $100, 4 times a year, and they have contributed more than $80,000 to area nonprofits since September.

Impressive.

One supporter summed up Cindy as “equal parts Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, Dalai Llama, Martha Stewart (in a good way) – with just a touch of Carol Burnett.”

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To learn more about this annual award, click on the Woman of the Year page.

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