Economic Equity Advocate and Public Policy Visionary
2006 Women's History Month Honoree
Cindy Marano was born in Philadelphia. Her family moved often because of her father’s work, and she attended nine different schools before graduating from high school. Her outgoing personality and enthusiastic energy were huge assets as she made new friends in each new locale. As an adult, she used this friend-making skill to develop state, national and international networks that promoted economic justice. She had the ability to help outsiders feel connected and included in whatever the situation entailed.
Her need to contribute to the world was inspired by her 8th grade English teacher and solidified by her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador in the 1960s. In the villages of Ecuador she witnessed the ravages of poverty in the swollen bellies of starving children and in the sense of hopelessness of their mothers. Working with these women, she established a distribution network for their hand-woven goods. This first success of helping women achieve satisfaction in their self sufficiency laid the ground work for the extraordinary accomplishments of her life.
Marano credited the extraordinary mentorship of Tish Summer and Laurie Shields, the founders of the Older Women’s League, with the necessary training for her work. She was knowledgeable and articulate, and she created and implemented effective strategies that improved the lives of low-income people, particularly women. Her commitment to achieving economic equity for women and low-income workers marked a career spanning 36 years, from her tenure as Director of Public Affairs at the National Federation of Business and Professional Women to her most recent role as Director of the National Network of Sector Partners.
She served as Executive Director of Wider Opportunity for Women from 1985 to 1997, during which time she developed federal policies that improved the outcomes for women in job training, welfare-to-work, and vocational education — four of her policies were adopted into federal law. She also played a leadership role in launching the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency (FESS) Project, now in 36 states.
She used her skill, talent, and enthusiasm to build a vision of economic equity for women and low-income workers. As a brilliant strategic thinker, she focused on public policy issues. She built legislative and government support and engaged a network of national, state, and local organizations to help women and low-income workers fulfill their dreams of economic success. She also built a community of colleagues across the United States to help implement her vision. Courageous and enthusiastic in all aspects of her life, she worked with the Reconciling Program of her Lake Merritt Unified Methodist Church, in Oakland, California, a program that seeks full participation for lesbians and gays. Marano served on the conference committee and authored a reader’s theatre piece highlighting the debate within the Methodist Church about marriage equality.
The organizations she worked with and founded as well as the legislation she drafted and helped implement along with her amazing spirit, kindness, grace, and joy are all part of her legacy. Her warm charisma was matched by her deep passion for social justice, and she used both to develop long range strategies that promoted women’s sense of economic independence and the dream of self sufficiency.