Contact: Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
email@example.com, (202) 862-9893
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, AJCU’s Vice President for Federal Relations, Cynthia A. Littlefield, died at her home after a long series of illnesses. She was 67 years old.
Cyndy (as she was commonly known) was born in Illinois and raised in Texas. She attended Loyola University New Orleans, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Among her many accomplishments as a student there were editing the student newspaper and serving as the first female vice president of Loyola’s student government.
After graduating from Loyola, Cyndy moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for several years on Capitol Hill as an intern for former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Jim Wright (D-TX), and as a staffer for Representative Lindy Boggs (D-LA). During this time, she attended George Washington University and earned a Master of Arts in Special Studies, with a specialization in Women in Politics.
In the 1980s, Cyndy transitioned into lobbying and advocacy, serving as the Executive Director of the Washington Workshops Foundation, Presidential Classroom and the National Limousine Association. She also founded Littlefield and Associates, a consulting firm that represented numerous clients and focused on issues including appropriations, taxes, education and health care.
Cyndy transitioned into government service in the early 1990s, when she worked in the Office of Congressional Affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 1996, she moved back into lobbying when she was hired by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) to serve as director of federal relations.
Over the course of Cyndy’s 22+ years of service to AJCU, she established the AJCU Federal Relations Network; lobbied extensively on behalf of Federal student aid programs; served as president of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF); and served as a professional negotiator before the U.S. Department of Education in the official rulemaking process, representing the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities. One of her proudest accomplishments was advocating successfully for Federal aid to support institutions of higher education that were impacted by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Cyndy will be remembered for her tenacious spirit, fierce loyalty and unwavering commitment to securing financial aid for students at Jesuit colleges and universities. AJCU's president, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., said, "Cyndy cared about all students, not just those of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. Her commitment to students made her the obvious choice to represent all institutions of higher education during negotiated rulemaking, and through her role as president of CEF. Her dedication and consistency through the years made her one of the most trusted lobbyists in Washington."
U.S. House Majority Leader, Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), said in a statement: “I was so saddened to learn of Cyndy’s passing. She was an extraordinary individual who cared deeply about learning and expanding access to higher education for all, regardless of need. Cyndy made it her mission to support the work of Jesuit colleges and universities, including my law school alma mater, Georgetown, and I had the pleasure of working closely with her over the years. She will be dearly missed on Capitol Hill and by all those who were privileged to call Cyndy a friend.”
Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs for the American Council on Education (ACE), wrote, “Cyndy was an amazingly unique individual. Nobody surpassed the commitment, passion and energy she brought to higher education policy. She was obviously first and foremost devoted to Jesuit colleges and universities but she was dedicated to the entire higher education community in all its rich diversity and to all the students we serve. She never met a federal student aid program that she didn’t like and she was willing to lobby for them all. And then there was her wonderful and delightful sense of humor that often added enormous joy to our various gatherings. Best of all, Cyndy was a dear, kind and caring friend and colleague. American higher education has lost a forceful and successful advocate and all of us have lost a friend.”
Outside of her work at AJCU, Cyndy adored her annual summer pilgrimages to Nantucket, where she would spend time with friends and enjoy excellent lobster dinners. A big book and film buff, Cyndy enjoyed dabbling in screenwriting over the years and loved to share her ideas for movies she would like to see made. Most of all, Cyndy thrived on conversation and loved engaging in passionate political debates and discussing the latest news from Capitol Hill.
Cyndy is survived by two brothers, Kevin and Kenny; a niece, Kim; a nephew, Kyle; grand-niece Carly Rose and grand-nephews Tommy and Jack. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends in Texas, Nantucket and Washington, D.C. We invite you to share your memories in the comments section beneath the photo gallery below; Politico and Inside Higher Ed are among the publications that have offered tributes to Cyndy.
We will celebrate Cyndy’s life during a memorial service at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 6 at 10:30 AM.