Strategic Progress, Cyndy Ortiz Gustafson, MA, CEO

Strategic Progress, Cyndy Ortiz Gustafson, MA, CEO

Cyndy Ortiz Gustafson is the Founder and CEO of Strategic Progress, and a native Nevadan who has worked in public service, research an public policy since her graduation from Washington State University with a Master in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Law in 1998.

As a graduate student, Ms. Ortiz Gustafson was awarded a full Graduate Fellowship with the Women's Research and Education Institute to spend a year in Washington, D.C. working in the United States Senate, and writing her Masters Thesis on Gender and Diversity in Politics and Public Institutions.  During the Fellowship year, she worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein from California, drafting legislation, engaging stakeholders to find common ground, resolving issues, building coalitions, writing speeches and researching and advocating for policy positions on a variety of topics, including environmental, privacy, and health issues.

Strategic Progress, LLC, founded by Ms. Ortiz Gustafson in January of 2002, provides strategic organizational and fund development consulting, as well as public policy, public affairs and regional planning consulting to a variety of non-profit and governmental agencies and programs. Current projects include designing and implementing large scale policy and programmatic change in the child welfare and children’s mental health systems across Nevada, as well as research and analysis in public health, veterans and higher education.

Ms. Ortiz Gustafson's current work and past roles have been focused on coordinating and advancing regional public policy.  In 2007 she researched and wrote Southern Nevada's Plan to End Homelessness which lays outs the philosophical, logistical and tactical parameters of a regional, best practice, coordinated plan to address the complex problem of homelessness in our community. In the 3 years since the plan was published Southern Nevada has realized a 20% reduction in the number of homeless on the streets.
In May of 2009, she led a region wide effort to safely reduce the number of children in foster care, by advocating for increased front-end support of children and families. This project was funded by Casey Family Programs, the nation's largest foundation working to improve foster care, and the Business Case written for the initiative is being used by Casey as an innovative model across the country. Ms. Gustafson has been invited to speak to the Council of Southwest Foundations about this model of business case, community action plan and funding alignment.

She has also acted as the Coordinator for Ready for Life Southern Nevada under the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition for two years from 2008 to 2010. She has written and published the Ready for Life case for support, based on national best practices and the mobilization of local assets. She coordinated the regional movement and all research and planning projects under the movement. She is currently working on a statewide planning initiative with the Nevada Community Foundation, the State of Nevada Veterans Services Department and the Pentagon to build capacity for veterans and veterans services across the state of Nevada.

Over the last 21 years, Ms. Ortiz Gustafson has raised over $180 million in grant and program funding for her clients. Ms. Ortiz Gustafson has worked with a variety of local and national organizations, include the State of Nevada, Nevada System of Higher Education, the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition, Nevada Public Radio, Rose Dominican Hospitals, Easter Seals Nevada, YMCA, St. Jude's Ranch for Children, HELP of Southern Nevada, the Nevada Blind Children's Foundation, Communities in Schools, Casey Family Programs, Connections and Robert F. Kennedy's Jr.'s Waterkeeper Alliance.

She has presented her research to large and small groups, and has testified many times in front of the Nevada State Legislature, as well as presented policy positions to members of the United States Senate.  Ms. Ortiz Gustafson provides government affairs and public affairs consulting to her clients, and works with them to track legislation, develop policy positions, develop legislation, connect and collaborate with elected officials, prepare issue briefs and statements, prepare for testimony and negotiate legislative issues.

Her particular areas of interest are in social innovation, developing public private partnerships and alliances, systems change projects, and making Nevada more competitive for federal funds. She is Director of the Applied Research and Policy Institute ( and its sister organization the Veterans Policy Leadership Institute ( which both work to advance data driven investments in policy, program and practice change in Nevada and across the country.

Ms. Ortiz Gustafson lives in Reno, Nevada with her family. She is involved with a number of community agencies and issues, and is a Director on the board of Amplify Life, Family Ties, Opportunity Alliance and a Member of the Washoe County School District Special Education Advisory Panel.