Meet Cyndi MillerCynthia (Cyndi) Miller is the Executive Director at Circle of Concern, which provides food assistance, rent and utility support and other services to about 1,200 families each year in the footprint of the Parkway, Rockwood, and Valley Park school districts.
Circle of Concern began more than 50 years ago when a group of churches pooled resources to serve a then much more rural West County. While many don’t think of hunger as a suburban issue, Cyndi says there is need in the area; and that many would be surprised by the number of residents eligible for and accessing the free and reduced federal school lunch program – this often used as an indicator of need in a community. Single parent families, seniors and those living with disability are the households most often served by Circle. The pandemic brought many new families to Circle’s doors, though federal aid dollars helped to mitigate the impact, says Cyndi.
Now, she and other agency leaders brace for the impact of an end to federal unemployment dollars and the moratorium on evictions. “Our client numbers could spike again, however there are programs to help – it’s just a matter of connecting these households to those services.”
Recently Cyndi was asked to lead the Rank and Review Committee for the St. Louis County Continuum of Care, a group of agencies serving the unhoused and others at risk of losing their housing.
During COVID, Cyndi discovered her passion for gardening. “There is something satisfying about harvesting our own vegetables. We’re growing tomatoes, peppers, okra, snow peas, and bok choy.”
Outside of work, Cyndi has enjoyed being the “first customer” of her oldest daughter, a personal trainer, as well as visiting her youngest at MIZZOU. Her husband has a motorcycle and they do breakfast rides to small towns.
Cyndi believes that great women leaders have vision and can prioritize and move things forward. She adds the need for empathy and humility, as well as life-long learning.
She joined Forum in 2020, so has been entirely online so far. But she loves it and is looking forward to making new and lasting friendships with “really awesome women”.
Cyndi recommends the The Warmth of Other Suns which she read with the Forum book club. “It is revealing, heartbreaking, and inspiring.”