By Jess Washington
As I went through the list in my head of prominent Black women in the DFW to feature for our Women’s History Month issue, I immediately thought of Cynt Marshall.
For those who know of Cynt Marshall, they may think of her because she is the first Black & female CEO of the National Basketball Association, working for Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. Some may know that she was the first Black cheerleader at Cal Berkeley or the first Black woman in her sorority, Delta Gamma. Before her current position, she had recently retired with a distinguished 36 year tenure at AT&T. Cynt was ready to fully launch her consulting firm when she got the call from Cuban. And as they (now) say, the rest is herstory. Cynt became famous overnight not just because of her historical move with the NBA, but the crisis management and corporate restructuring she was asked to oversee. Now, in her fourth year as the CEO of the Mavs, I wanted to hear directly from Cynt Marshall what life is like balancing work, family and philanthropy. More so, how she appears to do it so happily and successfully.
Before DW, I spent most of my career in corporate accounting, so from an executive standpoint, I was already a huge fan of Cynt’s portfolio. But as I was doing my research for this interview, I discovered so much more about the California native that made me understand what contributes to her success. One thing you need to know, she’s a survivor. Cynt has survived growing up poor with domestic abuse. Cynt has survived cancer. It’s no question that as a Black woman in the executive tech industry, she’s had to survive racial bias. At every turn, she has fought and won. Like any great warrior general, she calculates and leads her army with her entirety. And like any amazing mother, she’s cognizant of her position, nurtures the ambitious and leads by example.
While I waited for her to jump on the call, I was somewhat nervous. At DW, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to connect with high-profile people across the nation. And yet, I foolishly imagined a behavior like what you see in The Devil Wears Prada, where the success might come with a stern or unrelenting attitude. Cynt couldn’t have been any further from that depiction. Her charm is one of her best known attributes, and I can certainly see why. When Cynt got on the call, we immediately started chatting about real-life stuff like hair and seasonal allergies. Even though our interview was in the midst of back to back meetings, her signature smile was bright and brought a sense of calm. It was immediately clear to me that Cynt Marshall is genuine and very intentional. She’s a master of assessment and emphasizes herself that she loves to learn from people. This CEO will give you an erudite discussion but doesn’t mind throwing in a joke or two. Most importantly, Cynt wants to see us all win. From the players and staff of her team to the people supported through her charitable work. Cynt Marshall understands the assignment.
It was awe-inspiring to have a few minutes with her and learn from her experiences both personally and professionally. Any woman, of any age, can learn from Cynt’s perseverance as a Black woman, her leadership skills as an executive, and her connection to her community as an icon.
*Watch the entire interview here or read the full interview on March 31st.*