Education Foundation names first executive director

By Ryan Cornell

The first executive director of the Shenandoah Education Foundation will have plenty of time to dedicate to her job.

Cynthia “Cyndy” Walsh, 47, who has served as secretary since joining the foundation’s board of directors in 2011, was appointed to the new position at a Feb. 10 board meeting.

“Everybody on the board is wonderful, but they’re really busy,” she said. “I’m the one stay-at-home mom.”

As executive director, Walsh will help with marketing, fundraising and administrative duties.

The Education Foundation, which helps provide grants and financial support for Shenandoah County public schools and teachers, formed in 2009.

“[T]hat’s when education funding started to go downhill,” she said. “There definitely was not enough funding for everything that needs to be done in the system.”

The foundation sponsors the Teacher of the Year award banquet each May and gives out a $2,500 grant to the winning teacher, she said. It also serves as a 501c3 nonprofit affiliate and sponsor for the county’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library chapter, which mails books to children and their families.

“A lot of grants will only go to 501c3 organizations and the school systems are not, so they need somebody who can accept the grants on their behalf,” Walsh said.

A Virginian by birth, Walsh grew up in New Jersey and moved to Maryland to attend Washington College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business management. She worked in the Maryland General Assembly as a committee clerk, served as an office manager to Maryland congressman Wayne T. Gilchrist, executive assistant to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and as an assistant to the administrator of the General Services Administration. This is her ninth year of living in Shenandoah County.

Willy Pirtle, president of the Shenandoah Education Foundation, said Walsh was chosen for her experience in administrative support and fundraising.

“We found her to be very capable, very tenacious, very willing to help in any ways she can,” he said. “I feel like she’ll be a perfect fit.”

Walsh said she also brings an enthusiasm for wanting Shenandoah County public schools to be successful.

“We have great, great teachers, but unfortunately we have a very low tax base and so funding is always pretty short,” she said. “And I want to be there to help teachers and the school system get what they need.”

She described the compensation as “more of a stipend than a salary” and said an amount hasn’t been settled yet. She said she hopes to put in 10 to 12 hours per week into the part-time job.

Walsh and her husband live in Edinburg with their three kids, two of whom attend W.W. Robinson Elementary School.

The Shenandoah Educational Foundation is funded through corporate sponsors and individual donations, which can be sent to P.O. Box 607, Woodstock, VA 22664.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or

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