Meet Dr. Cindy Banyai
WHERE I COME FROM
Cindy with her mom and dad ca. 1981
I was born in Michigan to teen parents and grew up watching them work hard to make a better life through love and education. I loved politics and current events from a young age, running for my first public office, precinct delegate, at age 18. I went on to college to study international relations and psychology, firmly believing it necessary to understand the big and the small. From there I set off to explore the world, living, working, and studying in Asia, winding up with a doctorate. Home and love called from there and I moved to Southwest Florida and started my family. We now have three kids, a house, two cats, and whole lot of wonderful friends here where we live and work.
A THRIVING CAREER
Dr. Cindy Banyai is the founder and Principal Consultant of Banyai Evaluation and Consulting, LLC. She also teaches in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Florida Gulf Coast University. Dr. Banyai received her Master’s and Ph.D. from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan where her research focused on community development, public administration, evaluation, and governance. Her works have been published in peer-reviewed journals and she has published, edited, and contributed to several books on public administration and community development.
Becoming Dr. Banyai, doctoral graduation from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, 2010 with baby Ani
Dr. Banyai has worked in the field of community development since 2000, exercising skills such as facilitation, research and reporting, and participatory engagement practices. In 2012, she joined a start-up nonprofit as its first Executive Director to develop the organization’s infrastructure and practice to provide housing and services to homeless families. She gained valuable insights about poverty, housing, and homelessness, while conducting research and evaluation for the organization and participating in local resource networks and advocacy groups.
She received the Donald W. Littrell New Professional Award in 2015 from the Community Development Society for her work on regional initiatives at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and for her commitment to community-based advocacy organizations such as BikeWalkLee. Dr. Banyai continues to serve the field of community development as the President of the Community Development Society and representative to the United Nations for International Association for Community Development, an NGO with UN consultative status.
Dr. Banyai attending UN General Assembly 2019
Through her consulting work, Dr. Banyai has worked with civil society leaders and government officials from more than 25 countries. Recently she focused on crafting an evaluation culture in Southwest Florida working with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. Her initial work there focused on outcomes then expanded to include nonprofit capacity building, community research to inform grant processes, grant scoring, assessment of regional nonprofit capacity, collective impact process design, and impact evaluation of regional initiatives. She has also engaged in strategic planning and organization development with numerous local nonprofit organizations, as well as with global partners and companies through the global online training company the Institute for Organization Development.
Evidence of Dr. Banyai’s advocacy of evaluation and its use is found in the increased evaluation capacity of nonprofits she has coached and the progress that has been made in data-based decision-making in collaborative initiatives. She also worked to institutionalize evaluation in governments and nonprofits around the world through technical assistance for the Japan International Cooperation Agency. There she helped national and local government actors in Nepal, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Greater Africa, Tunisia, and Chile. In recognition of her evaluation work, she received the 2018 Evaluation Advocacy and Use Practice Award from the American Evaluation Association.