Ms. Cynthia Greenleaf

Senior Associate, Education and Nonprofit Practice
New York, New York
United States

Focus Areas

Higher Education
K-12 Education
Youth Development
Youth Development


Cynthia joined Heidrick & Struggles in the summer of 2008. She works on education and nonprofit searches to which she brings long experience in those worlds where she has both worked and served as a board member. Before joining Heidrick & Struggles, Ms. Greenleaf was the Director of Partnerships for the Chicago Public Schools, where she oversaw the City’s Principal for a Day program and supported over 400 partnerships between individual organizations and specific schools. She developed a website (www:, including every CPS school since its founding in 1837, aimed at engaging the three million living CPS alumni as well as showcasing the history of the schools and their students. Before CPS, she spent 25 years in the academic administration of research universities. She was Assistant Provost at The University of Chicago and held similar positions at Rockefeller University for five years and Cornell Medical College for seven years. Her work in universities included faculty recruitment, appointment review, staffing tenure and promotion committees and serving as the universities’ representative on a wide range of standing and ad hoc committees At The University of Chicago, she staffed a presidential search and at Cornell she managed the searches for clinical and basic science department chairs. Also at Cornell, she staffed the Medical College’s Tenure and Promotions Committee and was a member of the team that implemented the faculty side of the merger between the New York Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital In New York from 1986 until 1999, where her husband, Jonathan Fanton, was President of the New School, their home in Greenwich Village was a busy gathering place for trustees, faculty, and visiting local, national, and international speakers. They play a similar role in Chicago where her husband is President of the MacArthur Foundation. In her civic roles, she chaired searches for heads of her boarding school and Learning Leaders, a large volunteer organization in New York. She currently serves on the board of the Chicago History Museum, the Spencer Foundation, After School Matters, Learning Leaders and several committees for Smith College. Cynthia was born in Chicago and grew up in Elkhart, Indiana. She has a BA from Smith College, an MA from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a JD from Georgetown University.