FORT MYERS, Fla. (July 28, 2015) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Research and Evaluation Specialist Cindy Lyn Banyai, Ph.D., has received the 2015 Donald W. Littrell New Professional Award.

The award is presented to a Community Development Society (CDS) member in recognition of superior contributions to the field of community development and the CDS within the first 10 years in the field.

The Donald W. Littrell New Professional Award was presented at the 46th Annual International Conference, held in Lexington, Ky. from July 19 to 22.

Banyai, program evaluator at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, is also the principal consultant at Banyai Evaluation & Consulting, LLC. She has worked in the field of community development since 2000, including two years with Michigan State University Community Outreach and seven years as a community development consultant. Her most recent work with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation includes working with the Foundation’s grantees (coined “tribes”) on outcomes mapping and empowerment evaluation, facilitating groups for regional initiatives and conducting community research to support the work of the Community Foundation.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Cindy,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “We are grateful for her outstanding contributions in the field and to the Community Development Society as well as her daily contributions to the Community Foundation and the Southwest Florida region.”

Banyai studied international relations and psychology at Michigan State University and received her master’s degree and a doctorate in Asia Pacific studies from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, where her research focused on community development, public administration, evaluation and governance. Her works have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Rural Society and Asia Pacific World. She also edited and contributed to the books “The Public Administration Handbook of Japan” and “Global Movements of the Asia Pacific.” Banyai’s first solo book, “Community Capacity and Development – New Approaches to Governance and Evaluation,” was published in 2011.

She is an active member of the Community Development Society, serving as editor of its monthly publication Vanguard and serving on its board of directors, and the American Evaluation Association, serving as webmaster for its collaborative, participatory and empowerment evaluation group. Banyai’s other professional pursuits include being an adjunct instructor in the Department of Public Affairs at Florida Gulf Coast University, executive director of the nonprofit Around the Clock Caring, which focuses on transitional housing for homeless families, and president of the fitness company Florida Fit Mama, Inc.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit