Above photos – Top to Bottom: Cindy was was chair of the Legislative Committee at the California State Capitol, Cindy talks with California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Cindy meets with California Governor Jerry Brown at the Capitol.
How does a conservative Christian woman get consistently chosen to help shape the educational system of one of the most liberal states in America? Ask Cindy Marks, who is serving her fifth term on the Modesto City School Board in California. First elected in 1997 she helps manage a $265 million budget and serves more than 30,000 students.
Cindy recently served as President of California School Boards Association, which oversees the education of more than 6 million students. In 2002, the state legislature appointed her to the Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education that produced a report outlining how to create a seamless system of education from preschool through postsecondary education for California.
“Cindy is passionate about encouraging all students to succeed,” says CSBA past President Jill Wynns. “She’s a lifelong advocate of public education who’s mentored at-risk youth and gang members and counseled junior and senior high school students.”
The CSBA website goes on to note that:
In 2013, President Cindy Marks was named, “Elected Woman of the Year by California Women Lead,” … Moreover, she has served on a variety of prestigious national governance-related committees including the “100 District Leader Network for Citizenship and Service Learning,” . . . and the American Association of School Administrators. She also chairs the National School Boards Association Pacific Region Board. https://www.csba.org/About/StaffDetail.aspx?ID=110720&TYPE=OFF
“Initially I thought my job was to change education,” Cindy says, “but it really is about meaningful relationships with people. I feel inadequate and ill equipped to the task but I want to be used by God in such a way that brings Him glory. I ask, ‘how can I be salt and light in this situation? Lord, give me boldness and courage to dare to be a Daniel’.”
Another source of strength and encouragement for Cindy is her Pinnacle Forum group. “I first ran into Pinnacle Forum four years ago,” Cindy recalls. “I was involved with a group of women in leadership and Pinnacle invited us to join them. This has provided a good structure and focus for us. We are able to support, encourage and pray for each other, which gives us the courage to step into places we might not otherwise go. We hold each other accountable and can say difficult things to each other because we’ve built trust.”
At one time Cindy served on 16 boards, but she’s whittled it down to just a few these days, including City Ministry Network in Modesto, which networks the efforts of non-profits, churches, government, businesses, neighborhoods and everyone who’s making a difference in the city (https://catalystmodesto.org). She’s also a board member for the Latino Emergency Council and a founding member of the Dr. Parker Steering Committee to address the achievement gap and how it relates to African American Students.
Cindy and her husband Robert have three sons, two of whom are graduates of Modesto schools. Obviously her family is very supportive of her civic involvement.
“There are many opportunities to be stretched and moved to reach beyond ourselves; to be used by God and bring Him glory,” Cindy says. ‘Ask God to show you what you can do to be that catalyst in your city or community.’