Cindy Lowry ’96
Cindy Lowry is the Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance, a statewide network of groups working to protect and restore all of Alabama’s water resources through building partnerships, empowering citizens, and advocating for sound water policy and its enforcement.
A native of Alabama, Cindy was born and raised in Oneonta, Alabama. She received her BS degree in Wildlife Science from Auburn University in1996 and her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2004. The focus of her masters’ thesis was citizen participation in public policy. Cindy has over 15 years of work experience in the conservation nonprofit sector. Cindy worked in various volunteer and paid positions for the Alabama Wildlife Center before joining the staff of the Alabama Rivers Alliance in 2005. She became the Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance in 2007. Cindy has been awarded a “Wonderful Outstanding Woman” award from the Metro Birmingham Branch of the NAACP (2012), named one of the “Women Shaping the State” by Al.com (2016) and awarded an Auburn University Alumni Spirit of Sustainability Award (2017). Cindy also currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for Alabama Arise and is a long-time member of the Board of Friends of the Locust Fork River.
About Cindy’s present career:
I am the Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance, a statewide network of community and watershed based organizations working to protect and preserve Alabama’s rivers and streams. We protect Alabama’s rivers and streams by working with citizens and organizations across Alabama to raise awareness about the importance of clean water for people and for wildlife, to understand the threats to our water resources, and to advocate for sound water policy and its enforcement at the state and federal level.
Alumna Spotlight with Cindy
What do you contribute to your success as a woman in a natural resources-based field?
I attribute my success to many wonderful people that helped raise me, teach me, and encourage me to believe that I could be whatever I wanted to be. Those people, of course, include my parents, but there were many others. I was fortunate to have a variety of strong women in all stages of my life to help give me the courage and understanding of how to succeed as a woman in whatever field I chose. I am also fortunate that my career path led me to the nonprofit side of natural resources, where women are much more common.
What area of your field/industry do you see the most growth potential for women?
I think there is still a great deal of room for growth for women in positions of leadership, such as managers, directors, and CEO’s. Even in the nonprofit sector where there tends to be more women employed, there are still fewer leadership positions held by women, especially in larger nonprofits. In my experience, it is harder to be assertive and confident as a woman and not be labeled in negative ways. That makes it harder for women to work their way up to management and executive level positions. I believe things are changing rapidly, though, and we are better preparing young women to be comfortable in leadership positions.
In what ways/means do you feel the school could best support its female graduates and students?
I think that the school can make sure women are given opportunities to get out of their comfort zone and take on roles and responsibilities that they might not naturally think they are capable of or even want to do. I honestly Auburn did a good job of this when I was in school. When I was in the Wildlife Science program, many of my male classmates were hunters, so they already had some level of knowledge of what we were being taught and why management of game species was important. My dad and brother hunted, but for most the part, I was pretty uninformed about any of that. However, I always knew that I was expected to perform the requirements of the class, just as everyone else did.
What advice would you give a new female graduate?
I would say never doubt yourself and don’t be afraid to sell yourself when you are trying to get a job or a promotion. If you have accomplished important things while in school, let people know about it. One of the hardest things for me to do is take credit for my own accomplishments. I don’t mean overly boasting about yourself, but rather to accept credit when it is deserved, and to be proud of what you have done. How many men do you know that are self-deprecating?