Who she is: Fine artist, founder of the international women’s networking group Success in the City, co-author Your What’s Next Journal
What she does: Helps businesswomen mix friendship and business in her fun, social-focused group that offers CEOChick Chats, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and weekend getaways to NYC and Virginia Beach.
Why she does it: “Quite simply, I needed girlfriends,” Cynthia confides. “In addition to dealing with some management team conflicts due to the fact that I was a Southern woman serving as CEO, and living in this new town, shortly after I arrived here I was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumor. I had to find a support system — and fast.”
THE CREATION OF A RENAISSANCE WOMAN
By Hope Katz Gibbs
Nearly 200 women clad in their diva best packed the AMC Theater in Tyson’s Corner, VA on Friday, May 30, 2008, for the first public showing of Sex in the City, the best chick flick of the summer that is based on the popular HBOseries.
“Not a single seat was available,” says Cynthia de Lorenzi, “and it was only 8 a.m. on a weekday.” That’s just what Cynthia hoped for when she planned the event, the biggest yet for her 2-year-old Washington, DC-based networking group Success in the City. “It was fabulous,” Cynthia said after the show, referring not only to the romantic comedy on the screen but to the hundreds of executive women who dressed up and headed to the theater instead of the office.
“I wouldn’t have missed this,” says Darcie Davis, senior VP of Zephyr Strategy, Inc. and member of the Success in the City Board. The big event included a mid-morning spree at nearby Saks Fifth Avenue for a Saks in the City after-party where all sipped complimentary cosmopolitans, chatted with old and new girlfriends, and were treated to 15% off coupons on nearly everything in the store. “Fun in big doses with other businesswomen is what Success in the City is meant to be.”
Mixing friendship and business is the goal for Cynthia, a fashionable Texas-born dame who is proud to conduct deals in heels. And when her beloved brother Bob unexpectedly died in 2002, she did the only thing she could.
“My husband sold his business, packed up our house, and moved to Washington, DC to support my take-over as CEO of Bob’s telecommunications company, Patriot Net,” she says. “There was no other choice.”
Cynthia admits she suffered from tremendous culture shock. “Washington is not Texas. You may think we’re tough, but there is an impenetrable old boy’s network here. I found they were suspicious if you tried to talk to strangers in the elevator. And the women definitely didn’t wear pink. But they do now.”
Cynthia said hooey to the idea that she couldn’t beat ‘em. She founded Success in the City, a networking group for C-level businesswomen.
“Quite simply, I needed girlfriends,” Cynthia confides. “In addition to dealing with some management team conflicts due to the fact that I was a Southern woman serving as CEO, and living in this new town, shortly after I arrived here I was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumor. I had to find a support system — and fast.”
Fortunately, she met a few women who were connected and approachable, and within a few months, her pretty-in-pink networking idea created a buzz that led to a groundswell. The women who joined early on got their friends to participate. They liked it so much that the second tier told their friends, and they joined, too.
CEO Chick Chats, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, getaways to NYC and Virginia Beach, and more
Then came the Big Event movie extravaganza in May. This summer, she’s launching a Success in the City TV network, and by the end of the year hopes to franchise the concept in other cities, beginning with Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. And the best part, Cynthia says, I found the mother lode of friends who are smart, successful women to befriend. “Isn’t that what the good life is all about?” she beams.
For more information, visit www.successinthecity.org.