Cynthia Nagendra, JD

Executive Director, Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative

Cynthia Nagendra is the Executive Director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. She has worked in the field of homelessness for over 15 years in direct services, national policy, advocacy, and capacity building and technical assistance. In her career, she has worked with over 40 communities around the country to support their work and provide guidance in improving homeless programs and systems. She began her career providing direct services to people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco as a Program Manager at St. Anthony Foundation, went to law school in New York City where she worked on immigration, criminal justice re-entry, and women’s rights issues, and after graduating, she transitioned to federal homeless policy and capacity building.

Most recently, she served as the Director for the Center for Capacity Building at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a leading national voice on the issue of homelessness. Cynthia’s role at the Alliance involved working in directing the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building. The Alliance uses research and data to discover what works to end homelessness and develop easily accessible knowledge about these solutions; educates opinion leaders and policy makers; and helps communities implement these evidence-informed solutions.

Cynthia’s experience includes working with over 40 communities across the country in order to improve homeless systems and programs, learn what works to prevent and end homelessness in those communities from system leaders, practitioners, people with lived experience, and provide guidance, training, and technical assistance to reduce homelessness. She has worked closely with federal and local policy makers and elected officials, helped in building system capacity to provide effective rapid re-housing, emergency shelter, and supportive housing; led system-level strategic planning and design, and planning and implementing coordinated entry systems; and improving data systems to measure system performance. Before working at the Alliance, Ms. Nagendra worked in other homelessness-focused agencies including as a staff attorney for HomeBase to advance solutions to homelessness and St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco to provide direct services to people experiencing homelessness.