- Woman of the Year
WOMAN OF THE YEAR CYNTHIA HUNTER LANG '79
Activist, environmentalist, and entrepreneur
When Cindy Hunter Lang ’79 joined Marlborough in the 9th Grade, she had already taken four years of French in elementary and middle school, but it wasn’t until she joined Mireille Mancinelli’s class that it all finally clicked. “Within the first week we were conjugating 70 verbs, and suddenly this light went on,” said Lang. “I realized I would be able to truly speak and understand a foreign language.”
This realization, and the knowledge that came with it, opened up a vast new world for Lang, and when she entered college at Stanford in the fall of 1979, she made herself a promise that she would take a French class every quarter, regardless of her major, to maintain her fluency. Lang ultimately majored in French and English Literatures, and credits her exposure to foreign language at Marlborough—first with Madame Mancinelli and later with Madame Jenks—as having put her on a path towards loving languages and communication.
Lang’s passion for language, along with Stanford’s encouragement, led her towards Portuguese next, a decision which Lang says “fueled my fascination and passion for Brazil,” and inspired her to experience the country for the first time when she moved there for a year following her graduation from college. When she returned from Brazil, Lang took a role in Stanford’s development office, fund-raising for major gifts for the University.
In 1988, Lang and her ex-husband Roger purchased a ranch in Montana on a conservation property, which they built into an award winning eco-tourism guest lodge, The Lodge at Sun Ranch. They spent the next decade, Lang says, “managing the ranch and learning about different communities and ways to support sustainability.” In the mid-1990s, Lang began a decade-long focus on her family and raising her children, sons Roger, now 29, and Chris, now 26.
In 2009, the family sold their ranch in Montana, and Lang went back to school to get her M.B.A. in sustainable management. Her work in this realm—dealing primarily with social entrepreneurs—helps people in developing countries get access to the resources they need for success, including funding, exposure, access to partners and connections to Silicon Valley business.
This thread of “connections” is woven through everything Lang does, both professionally and socially, and is a major reason she remains engaged with Marlborough and many of her fellow alumnae over thirty years after her graduation. “You form a special bond with your high school classmates,” Lang says. Among the many women with whom Lang remains in touch is Ashley Boren ’79, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation, which promotes practical solutions that produce tangible, lasting benefits for California in the areas of climate, air, water, and wildlife. Lang has been a member of the Board of Sustainable Conservation for nearly 15 years.
Today Lang spends three to four months of the year in Brazil, and focuses considerable time and energy on her Go To Girl Brazil business which embodies all aspects of her love of Brazil. In addition, Lang is a founding member of the Urban Innovation Exchange, an initiative she co-spearheaded and for which she hosts events and activities with “truly innovative people who are dreaming big.” This effort stemmed from Lang’s participation in Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on sustainable development in 2012, when she was part of a delegation that led people from San Francisco to Rio De Janeiro to participate in talks about social concerns and anti-poverty issues and lead innovation activities to help define pathways to a safer, more equitable and more prosperous world. She is also an early member and the Brazilian Initiatives Leader of the Silicon Valley Chapter of Ashoka, and she remains involved with Stanford as a member of their Humanities and Sciences Council.
When asked what being Marlborough’s Woman of the Year means to her, Lang smiles broadly. “I was shocked!” she says. “It’s a huge honor and I am very humbled. I have such respect for the women who came before me and want to live up to the expectations of this award!”