Cynthia Sewell (Kawa)
Cynthia Sewell is
Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons, a leading Southern California nonprofit
organization providing a wide range of residential, employment, and social
opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. She oversees a staff
of over 300 professionals and administers an annual budget of approximately $13
million. She has become a leading
spokesperson for society’s responsibility to provide opportunities for those
with developmental disabilities to achieve their dreams, contribute to the
community, and thrive as part of the general population.
leadership, New Horizons has become one of the oldest, largest, and most
comprehensive programs in Los Angeles for adults with such special needs such
as intellectual challenges, autism, cerebral palsy, and seizure disorders. The organization is also the largest provider
of supported employment services in Los Angeles County, a program where people
with developmental disabilities work in the community at jobs in a variety of
retail and business environments.
Prior to being
named CEO in 2009, Cynthia served as New Horizons’ Executive Director since
1992, and had been the organization’s Residential Director since 1988. During her extensive tenure at New Horizons,
the agency has more than quadrupled the number of developmentally disabled
clients served to more than 800 adults.
Her entire career in the field spans more than thirty five years.
advocates on behalf of those with special needs. She serves on the Board of Directors of the
Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) and on its Government Affairs
Committee. She also co-founded the 17-member
Coalition of Service Providers, composed of nonprofit organizations serving the
special needs population, which advocates on behalf of that population.
Cynthia has been
recognized numerous times for her leadership and professional abilities. Recent examples include being honored in 2010
by the San Fernando Valley Business
Journal, as part of its annual Women in Business program; Cynthia was named
Woman of the Year in the Non Profit Business category. That same year, she also received the North
Los Angeles County Regional Center Legislator’s Award for Service to People
with Developmental Disabilities. In 2011 Business
Life Magazine, honored her with its 2011 Women Achievers award.
In 2012, she was
honored by her alma mater, California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA),
which conferred its Distinguished Alumna Award from the College of Arts and Letters. In 2013, the Annenberg Foundation declared
her as one of 25 visionary leaders among more than 3,000 of their grant
Cynthia is a
native of Los Angeles and holds dual bachelor’s degrees in French and
psychology, and a master’s degree in psychology, all from CSULA.
She also is a
licensed marriage and family therapist.
An avowed cat
fancier, Cynthia is a newlywed having just married in the September 2012 to her
childhood sweetheart, Jeffery Sewell.