Alumna '80: Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Business Leaders
Cindy Crocker, ’80, started her business career as a wide-eyed Girl Scout in her friend’s basement in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It was there that her troop leader taught her the art of selling cookies. Crocker was a quick study. That year, she sold the most Girl Scout cookies in her county.
Her recipe for success? Limitless energy, thoughtful strategy and a sincere interest in—and desire to help—others. These qualities have served Crocker well as a business executive and as a philanthropist and mentor at her alma mater, where she is determined to develop a new generation of women leaders.
Crocker came to NIU as a transfer student from Harper College and worked her way through school as a clerk in an office supply store. As an NIU graduate, she led several initial public offerings for some of the nation’s top real estate companies and retired as Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Equity Group Investments.
Today, while enjoying retirement, Crocker continues to make good investments, especially in the lives of students at NIU. Through The Crocker Scholarship in Business, she and her husband, Douglas, provide several generous scholarship awards to deserving young ladies each year.
“The Crocker Scholarship is one of our most coveted scholarships, not only because of its significant financial support, but also because it carries the Crocker name,” says Denise Schoenbachler, who currently holds the Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Professorship in Business and heads the Women’s Leadership Institute in the NIU College of Business.
Since 2009, more than 40 young women have proudly represented NIU as Crocker Scholars.
For years, Crocker has also been renowned for her mentoring at NIU, spearheading and sponsoring innovative business networking events for young women. For instance, each year, the alumna sends a bus filled with aspiring women business leaders to an upscale networking event in downtown Chicago: The Annual Crocker Program for Emerging Business Leaders. Approximately 75 high-achieving College of Business and College of Engineering students and 25 accomplished alumni and mentors participate each year.
Crocker Scholar Emma Stettner, ’19, attended the event last year and had glowing reviews. “It was marvelous,” she says, adding, “It’s incredible that Cindy and Doug Crocker support students like me and give us the courage to become great business leaders. As a young female, it is encouraging to have people like them show me that I can succeed if I continue to work hard.”
Crocker also hosts an event on campus each year called Women at the Table, a speed-networking event at which alumni host round tables on topics of interest to women such as confidence, work-life balance, and dealing with harassment.
“All the alumni who participate in Cindy’s events take such pride in propelling our students forward,” Schoenbachler says. “The experiences are uplifting and inspiring for us all.”
Crocker is an active member of the NIU Foundation Board of Directors and chairs its leadership committee. She and her husband, Douglas, live in Delray Beach, Florida.
Crocker describes her involvement as “very fulfilling and very, very fun!” She adds, “I have met so many smart, talented, focused young ladies, and they all inspire me. Many of the young ladies who receive the scholarship tell me that they plan to give back, and that’s the greatest reward of all.”