Cynthia Mathews Award

Cynthia Mathews

Cynthia Mathews, one of the women to help start the local Planned Parenthood, continues to campaign on behalf of women and their access to reproductive health care.

This award honors Cynthia Mathews at the time of her retirement from Planned Parenthood after 40 years of outstanding service. Her numerous friends and family raised money to create the Cynthia Mathews Fund. The fund has established the Cynthia Mathews Award which will support students who have shown a demonstrated commitment to reproductive choice or health care access.

Cynthia helped start the local Planned Parenthood office from her kitchentable in 1971 and served as its first executive director until 1973. Remaining active as a volunteer with Planned Parenthood and many other community activities while her children were young, Cynthia rejoined the Planned Parenthood staff as public affairs director in 1979. The “never boring” job required constant campaigning on behalf of women and their access to reproductive health care.

Cynthia Mathews

Cynthia Mathews as Santa Cruz city mayor.

Through the years, Cynthia has helped the agency endorse candidates, provide information for voters, and lobby elected state and federal leaders to gain funding and policy support and create greater health access for women and girls. She was a leader in the creation of the Reproductive Rights Network, a broad community coalition that has advocated for health care issues for women for over 20 years. In addition to her leadership with Planned Parenthood, Cynthia has also lent her skills to historic preservation and local history, neighborhood development, public schools, and environmental resources. She has served three terms on the Santa Cruz City Council, serving twice as mayor.

The Cynthia Mathews Award is a merit based award administered by the Department of Community Studies in cooperation with the Office of Financial Aid. Preference is given to an undergraduate student in any department who has demonstrated a commitment to reproductive choice or health care access.

For more information about this award, please contact the Community Studies Department website or by phone at (831) 459-2371.

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