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Global Gala Honorees 2021

Cynthia Sears


Cynthia Sears

Cynthia Sears is a stellar example of successful community activism – a one-woman change-maker whose big heart is dwarfed only by her vision and her ability to bring others to the table with her. Her reach over years of philanthropy, political advocacy, and devotion to the arts, has resulted in abundant successes. With a smile, a handshake, and an unusual ability to listen and connect, Cynthia has given life to and helped develop projects that are humane, progressive and, in the case of the arts, inimitable.

A Southern California native, Cynthia began her lifelong avocation as an “influencer” many years before there was such a word. She was a donor and working partner for local, national, and worldwide humanitarian issues that touched her heart and her mind. With “Writers on Writing,” her own radio program on Los Angeles’s premier NPR station, Cynthia interviewed guests from a broad spectrum of authors, including Poet Laureate Billy Collins prior to his first published work. Her awareness of the plight of abused women led her to co-write and co-produce “Battered,” a lauded, 1978 television movie, starring Levar Burton, Mike Farrell, Karen Grassle, directed by Peter Werner. It concerned domestic violence in the lives of three disparate women – an issue that was at that time almost non-existent in the public conscience.

A transformative mid-life transition to beautiful Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride from Seattle, found Cynthia and her husband Frank Buxton in just the right place for their “golden” decades. Frank brought his career as an actor, director, and writer to the theatre community and the community-at-large, innovating and creating vibrant entertainment. The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, hailed as one of the U.S.’s best local museums, is a result of Cynthia’s inspiration, generous spirit, and stellar ability to put together teams of excellence in every aspect of its development.

Cynthia’s collections, the crown jewel of which is her well-regarded assemblage of Artists’ Books (works of art which take the form of a book), reflect her discerning eye, her love of beauty, and dedication to artists.

Cynthia also has an ability to find, mentor, and support fledgling projects and undiscovered artists (i.e., street artist Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani). The Port Townsend Film Festival is one of those projects which has flourished with Cynthia as a booster. Multiple films – including recent documentaries “This Changes Everything” and “The Bowmaker” (credited as “Executive Producer) – have been beneficiaries of Cynthia’s commitment and largesse.

These are mere highlights in the larger picture of Cynthia’s dedication and generosity. When Cynthia offers to help, it’s an unequivocal offer, and one she delivers with joy, unpretentiousness, and certainty.