Cynthia Dames has more than 20 years of experience in maintaining a state and city government affairs practice directed at non-profit advocacy, with a focus on health, social services, legal services and civil rights. She partners with Kasirer in NYC lobbying. Cynthia has secured and maintained millions of dollars of state and city funding, and she has been influential in major public policy legislation, including the initial passage of marriage equality in the State Assembly.
Prior to starting her firm, Cynthia was executive director of the Coalition of Voluntary Mental Health Agencies (now Coalition of Behavioral Healthcare), where she led the 120-member organization in its campaign to develop and pass the historic Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act during the tenure of Governor Mario Cuomo. The act was the first in the U.S. to move funding—in this case a quarter of a billion dollars—from
underused state hospitals to community care for the homeless mentally ill. It has
been used as a national model for the reinvestment of public dollars in deinstitutionalization.
Cynthia was previously a director of planning for the NYC Department of Mental Health, where she led special projects for the commissioner and the mayor’s office.
Before moving to New York, Cynthia started the first women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was the first president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, creating an advocacy network in more than 25 states.
Directly out of college, Cynthia went to work for the governor of Illinois, traveling weekly between Chicago and Springfield. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from the University of Illinois, and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago.