our story

about our founder
cynthia r. PLOUCH
É

about cynthia

With more than 25 years’ experience as a fixed-income portfolio manager and financial executive who possesses significant expertise in the financial and operational oversight of for-profit, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations, Cynthia R. Plouché currently serves as board member of the Northern Trust Bank’s Northern Institutional Funds and Northern Funds mutual fund complexes, where she is chair of the Funds’ governance committees. She also is a member of the governing council of the Independent Directors Council, spearheading the organization’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. In addition, as a lifelong learner who continues to pursue meaningful learning and involvement opportunities concerning educational access and the impact of belonging and inclusion on the success of students and young adults, she is board president for The Chicago High School for the Arts. Throughout her participation in all the above, she brings a solid commitment to and knowledge of the importance of non-financial factors to organizational excellence in both the corporate and education arenas. 

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Merging her in-depth understanding of finance with her ability to bring together teams and individuals to meet the challenges wrought by changes in the social, political, and financial environments, Cynthia describes her vision: “I am passionate about putting together people and ideas, and I am committed to the concept of belonging, which informs my interest in diversity and inclusion. I am committed to being a bridge between people and the ideas that can inspire and educate them and in so doing help them pursue and achieve their goals.”

Having earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and social relations at Harvard University and her master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Cynthia pursued a successful career in 

investment management, including more than ten years as co-founder and chief investment officer of a woman-owned firm, and culminating in ongoing corporate board leadership within the mutual fund industry. 

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I am passionate about putting together people and ideas, and I am committed to the concept of belonging...

She established The Alzenia Project, a not-for-profit (NFP) resource whose goal is to leverage the impact of other NFPs committed to helping young women of color to achieve personal and professional growth. In addition, she regularly volunteers as a consultant to not-for-profit and women-led initiatives.

connect with cynthia

on lINKEDIN

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the alzenia behind
the alzenia project

about alzenia

A Dallas Morning News article published in 1968 featured local resident Alzenia Favors Hunter, who had recently graduated from college at the age of 49—27 years after completing high school and then raising her family before she could finally devote the time and effort to achieving her long-held ambition of becoming a social worker. Following her cum laude graduation from college, she went on to work toward her master’s degree at the University of Texas. Described in the article as “a very versatile Negro woman…a professional by day [who] works as a maid by night,” she had concurrently directed and taught at Hope Presbyterian School while working in the house service department at Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., her employer of 23 years. 

Typical of her forthright way of expressing herself and her practical and positive viewpoints, she is quoted in the article thusly: “It’s never too late to do what one wants to do in life!”

 

Alzenia Project founder Cynthia R. Plouché is proud to name her not-for-profit organization after her maternal grandmother—this strong and determined woman who inspired her, nurtured her, encouraged her, and empowered her with love and words and by example, and whose spirit of accomplishments, hard work, and commitment to not only her family and community, but to her own self helped her become her own best person and achieve her dreams.

It is the combination of a commitment to diversity and inclusion, fostering a sense of belonging, and emphasizing empowerment and mentorship that suffuses The Alzenia Project and its mission to be a valued resource whose goal is to raise, target, and allocate funds to leverage the impact of non-profits committed to helping these young women.

 

Without a doubt, Alzenia Favors Hunter would have approved.

It’s never too late to do what one wants to do in life!

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- alzenia favors hunter

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about alzenia project

In early 2019, Alzenia Project founder Cynthia R. Plouché. decided to host a luncheon for a group of her college classmates on the occasion of their 40th reunion later that year. For some time before the announcement of the reunion, Plouché had been considering just what a unique group of women she and her closest classmates were.

 

The reunion luncheon turned out to be an opportunity to not just renew friendships and bring each other up to date on their lives post-college or whenever the last time was that they’d been in touch. Much more important and, as it turned out, most relevant to each of the women who attended was the sense that they had once all belonged to each other based on a unique set of circumstances—and felt they still did. 

Plouché wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to accomplish by having the lunch except that she wanted to ignite a sense of community among her classmates, give herself an even greater sense of belonging, and perhaps even lay the groundwork for something in the future…something or some way to bring more value to people’s lives. She partnered with Byron Hunter, a documentarian and childhood friend, who created a short video of the luncheon featuring the attendees who were happy to record heartfelt comments on their Harvard experience and the impact of those years together—and on that important sense of belonging to each other they were experiencing. He knew of her interest in “doing something” that—at the time—amorphous desire to bring together her interests in diversity, equity, and inclusion with the concept of belonging. As she puts it, that luncheon, with its small video “was like a step into the unknown.” 

 

Then, in 2021, Hunter got back in touch with Plouché; he thought the time was right to suggest they expand on her reunion video to a full-fledged podcast or documentary. And that’s the future that emerged: a podcast series they named The Sisterhood of Radcliffe ’79, which features eight classmates and their inspiring stories that extend beyond and transcend the more than 40 years following their arrival on Harvard’s campus in 1975. 

 

Full circle, the net proceeds from the podcast series are now helping fund The Alzenia Project, the not-for-profit organization Plouché established in 2021. Its mission reflects Plouché’s vision: to be a valued resource with a goal of raising, targeting, and allocating funds to leverage the impact of non-profits committed to helping young women—particularly women of color—achieve personal and professional growth and satisfaction through mentoring, and inclusive and empowering opportunities for increased educational access and career readiness.

 

It’s early days for the Project, but as Plouché says, “The future is now.”