August 14, 2020

Alumni Profile: Cynthia Todd

Your name:  Cynthia Kay Todd

Your home:  Hoover, Alabama

Your hometown: Calera, Alabama


  • Bachelor of Business Administration Degree, majoring in business management at UM in 1988
  • Master of Arts Degree in Public and Private Management Degree at Birmingham-Southern College in 2007


Educational achievements at UM: 

I served in leadership roles during college — most notably president of Alpha Kappa Psi; a professional business fraternity – first black female to serve in that role. I was also an active member of the Inspirational Voices of Christ, the African American Society, Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society along with several honors including Senior Elite, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Golson Scholars Seminar, The Wall Street Journal Annual Achievement Award, the John A. House Award and The United States Achievement Academy National Collegiate Award.


Tell us about your family: 

I grew up in a large family – six children total – three boys and three girls. Both of my parents are deceased along with my oldest brother and my youngest brother. My parents taught me to share, love everyone, see the good in people, treat others the way you want to be treated, be respectful and to be your best self. Two of my sisters also attended the University of Montevallo. In fact, all three of us (Gwen, Penny and me) were at UM at the same time when I entered as a freshman in 1984. I am the youngest of my sisters but I always bossed them around!


What is your profession?

Operations manager for the Claims Division at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama


What made you choose this profession? 

Since I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to be a manager in corporate America. I had positive role models growing up and identified with being a servant leader. I also considered being a lawyer or a college professor – two arenas which still spark my interest.


How did Montevallo affect your career path?
After taking my first management course under Dr. Harry Hamilton, it confirmed my desire and skillset to be in management. Clearly, the Bachelor of Business Administration degree I earned from the University of Montevallo prepared me for a successful career in management. Because of the exceptional education I received at Montevallo, I am a proven business management professional with more than 30 years of experience and a track record of consistent promotions and increasing responsibilities.


How did you know you belonged at Montevallo?

When I had an opportunity to attend my first College Night event as a senior in high school, I knew then I belonged at Montevallo. I was so impressed by the talent of the student body and the team spirit that I wanted to be a part of that amazing experience as a student. After receiving a four-year Valedictorian Scholarship to UM, it was obvious that Montevallo wanted me as well.


What would you tell a prospective student who was considering UM?

If you want the best liberal arts education for an affordable price in an amazing environment where everybody knows your name, then you belong at Montevallo!  Montevallo is a quaint college community with exceptional professors who you get to know you 1:1 and truly prepare you for the “real” world.


What is your secret for success?

To live by the Golden Rule — to treat others the way you want to be treated – with dignity and respect. While I was on loan to the United Way of Central Alabama in 2004 from Protective Life, my husband passed away. I was devasted. I was only 38 years old. This life tragedy taught me that life is short. Life it too short to be unhappy. I learned if you are unhappy or stressed, remove the thing/situation if it is in your control. Consequently, I believe in living life every day to the fullest, giving thanks and praise to God in all things.


What is your favorite Montevallo memory as an alumna?

Organizing the first Minority Alumni Club event for Homecoming in the 21st century. There was a minority alumni group formed in the 1970s but it was not an official affinity group of UM. One of my best friends, Glenda Lee Bland ’89, and I planned the inaugural event to get other minority alumni to return to Montevallo and to give back of our time, talent and treasures. I recall Dr. Lonnie J. Edwards ’71 inspiring and encouraging all in attendance to be PROUD of being a graduate of the University of Montevallo. He provided an analogy of Alabama and Auburn fans: Why don’t we all yell and cheer for Montevallo with the same passion as alumni of large colleges in Alabama? We should be proud Montevallo alumni and let everyone know where we received our OUTSTANDING education!


What are your thoughts as you become president of the UMNAA Board?

I am excited to serve as president of the UMNAA board! It is such an honor and privilege to serve our great alma mater. As we enter this new decade, I would like to continue with the 2020 Homecoming luncheon theme based on 20/20 Vision. Our vision will be to continue the quest to engage alumni and support students. Current plans are to focus on the following three areas: Educate, Motivate and Elevate.

Educate – We plan to provide more networking opportunities, partner with UM colleges to support needs of students and continue the traditions of honoring alumni and providing scholarships to students.

Motivate – Our second goal will be to motivate and encourage alumni to get involved. There are many ways alumni can support Montevallo — through your time, talents and treasure. We will look to increase participation in all three of the aforementioned categories.

Elevate – Montevallo is the best and it is the goal of the UMNAA Board to take Montevallo even higher! We plan to increase our social media presence and evaluate events to ensure we are sponsoring meaningful events and opportunities for alumni.


What is the best advice you have received?

Don’t sweat the small things!  As you get older and wiser, you learn to pick your battles.  When I am passionate about something, I will speak up and take action!  Things that are trivial are not worth the effort.


Do you have favorite motto? If so, what is it?

Yes – “Work smarter; not harder!” and #teamwork


What are your hobbies? 

I love to travel, shop, go to the beach, get massages and go to the movies. I collect refrigerator magnets from each state\country I visit.


What is your favorite Montevallo memory as a student?

I was a commuter student. My favorite memories are from hanging out in the “SUB” with my friends. It was all about the fellowship. We would schedule our classes around our favorite daytime soap operas and meet upstairs to watch together – “All My Children,” “General Hospital,” “Days of our Lives,” etc. It felt like family!


What would you like alumni to know about the National Alumni Association and the UMNAA Board?

The mission of the National Alumni Association is to:

  • Enhance alumni ties to and support of the University
  • Promote active and effective participation of alumni in the Association and the University
  • Advocate, promote, and support the University of Montevallo and its unique mission to be a vital part of Alabama’s future

Funding of alumni events, alumni legacy scholarships and other activities are largely possible because of funding the UMNAA receives from the University of Montevallo Foundation and generous donations from alumni to the unrestricted account.

The UMNAA plans the annual Homecoming Luncheon and class reunions. Additionally, the UMNAA bestows coveted alumni awards to distinguished alums. If you have innovative ideas on how we can continuously improve Homecoming and other alumni activities, we would love to hear from you! Perhaps you would be a great addition to the UMNAA Board.  If you have time, talent and treasure to share, consider volunteering to serve on the board. It is our goal to be of service to all alumni!


What awards/honors have you received?

  • The Aubrey Performance Management Practitioner Award
  • Aubrey Daniels International Diploma – Applications of Performance Management Technology
  • Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of the Year Award – United Way of Central Alabama Inc.
    • I received this award among 70+ other loaned executives to the United Way. I was able to exceed the $1 million fundraising goal in 2004 when I was on loan from Protective Life to the United Way. While I was on loan, my husband passed away within the final two weeks of my assignment. I was devasted. I was only 38 years old. This life tragedy taught me that life is short. To receive this award from my peers and UWCA staff was truly an honor.
  • Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI) Designation
  • NASD Investment Company/Variable Contracts Registered Representative – Series 6 and 63
  • Project Corporate Leadership


What would you like to add?

I believe in giving back to the community. I currently serve in other organizations such as the following, to name a few:

  • Vice President of Upsilon Eta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated
  • Board of Directors for the Valley Pearls Service Foundation
  • Board of Directors for The Literacy Council of Central Alabama
  • Past President of the University of Montevallo Minority Alumni Club
  • Board of Directors for New Mt. Moriah Baptist Church 2016-2020