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Cynthia Williams to Receive Shouldice Alumni Achievement Award

A key element of LSSU’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan entitled Superior Education, Superior Experience, Superior You is that of social mobility.  One of the many hallmarks of the Laker experience is how the University embraces students from small communities who would not be comfortable in a mega-campus setting.  This transformational educational and social experience prepares alumni for successful, enriching careers and in life.

That is certainly the case for Cynthia Williams, this year’s recipient of the LSSU Alumni Association’s Kenneth J. Shouldice Alumni Achievement Award.  This award recognizes personal and professional successes that serve as outstanding examples to LSSU graduates. The award highlights significant achievements of alumni who serve as leaders in our region, state and nations.

Williams is a magna cum laude graduate with a B.A. in English from LSSU who also earned a Juris Doctorate from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She is the former executive director of the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA), a nonprofit that provides health benefits for state public education employees at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels. She retired in 2016 after 16 years with the organization, which was founded in 1960 and is the largest provider network in Michigan.

During her time at MESSA she joined the LSSU Foundation Board of Directors in 2011 completing her term that including service on the Prospect Development Committee in 2019.

“We were honored to have Cindy serve on our Board,” stated Tom Coates, Executive Director ~ LSSU Foundation.  “She was always so willing and cooperative in connecting us with contacts that she made throughout her successful career.  She was especially helpful in securing support for the R.W. Considine Hall capital campaign.”

Earlier in her career, she was legal counsel for the Michigan Education Association and an attorney with White, Beekman, Przybylowicz, Schneider & Baird, at which Williams developed expertise in labor and employment law, civil rights, and education law. Williams clerked for Mich. Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh after graduating law school.

She also is a member of the Planning Commission of the City of East Lansing, where she lives, and was a member of the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012 and its chair for two years.

Her excellence began at Lake State with her academic achievements as a student, followed by her generosity and volunteerism as an alumni and foundation board member.  However, her service to her alma mater is not complete.  Earlier this year, Williams was appointed to LSSU’s Board of Trustees to a term that runs from July 10, 2020, to Jan.  27, 2028.

“I am honored by Gov. Whitmer’s appointment to serve on the Lake Superior State University Board of Trustees,” said Williams, echoing her sentiments from a state press release. “As a native of the Upper Peninsula and a graduate of LSSU, I look forward to the opportunity to serve this fine institution, which had a meaningful and lasting impact on my professional life.”

Cindy will be formally honored as the 2020 Shouldice Alumni Achievement Award recipient during next year’s Great Lake State Weekend in 2021.


Compass for Planned Giving

IRA Charitable Rollover

You may be looking for a way to make a big difference to help further our mission. If you are 701/2 or older you may also be interested in a way to lower the income and taxes from your IRA withdrawals. An IRA charitable rollover is a way you can help continue our work and benefit this year.

Benefits of an IRA Charitable rollover

  • Avoid taxes on transfers of up to $100,000 from your IRA to the Lake Superior State University Foundation
  • Satisfy your required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year
  • Reduce your taxable income, even if you do not itemize deductions
  • Make a gift that is not subject to the deduction limits on charitable gifts
  • Help further the work and mission of Lake Superior State University

How an IRA charitable rollover gift works

  1. Contact your IRA plan administrator to make a gift from your IRA to us.
  2. Your IRA funds will be directly transferred to Lake Superior State University to help continue our important work.
  3. Please note that IRA charitable rollover gifts do not qualify for a charitable deduction.
  4. Please contact us at or 906-635-2665, if you wish for your gift to be used for a specific purpose.
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