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February 2, 2018

Meet Cynde Horne

As Director of Planned Giving, Development, Cynde Horne and her colleague Larissa Fernandez work with WNET Legacy Society donors who have included the station in their will or estate planning. In addition to actively finding new Legacy Society members, they work closely with donors, their advisors, and with lawyers and executors involved with bequests for the station. “My job is so rewarding because almost every day I talk to someone who tells me how much the station means to him/her or to a loved one. If you ever doubt that WNET is doing really special work and that your job matters, come sit in my seat for a day and talk to donors or family members who want to tell me how important we are in their lives,” Cynde says. Read on to learn about the popular Legacy Society luncheons, Cynde’s favorite places on the Upper East Side, and more.

Cynde Horne

What is your background, and how did you land at WNET?

The answer could be called The Long and Winding Road. For 10 years, I taught high school English (11th and 12th grades) in Plano, Texas. (Go Wildcats!)  I left teaching to go to law school at LSU. (Geaux Tigers!) After law school, I returned to Dallas and practiced law for many years. Part of my practice was in estate planning. I had always wanted to live in New York, so in 2008, I closed my law practice and moved here to take a major gifts officer position with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 2008! About the time the bottom fell out! But, I persevered and eventually landed a position at Lambda Legal as the director of their planned giving department. Luckily for me, that led me to WNET and John Matthews, the former director of Planned Giving at WNET. I’m really passionate about planned gifts and about helping people create a legacy that will last long after they are gone. Every day I’m thankful to be a part of this team. Our Legacy Society members are among our most loyal donors; they are a joy to steward.

The Planned Giving team hosts many events throughout the year. Are there any events you have worked on that were particularly memorable, and is there an upcoming event you’re particularly excited about?

Each year, we host an annual lunch. Our Legacy Society members love it! The minute the invitations go out, the RSVPs start arriving – for some of our members, it’s the highlight of their year and it’s a great opportunity for me to interact with so many people who support us. Each year is a new experience because our Legacy Society members are all unique in their own ways. Next month the Legacy Society is co-hosting a small event with the AARP around the Great Performances broadcast of the Movies for Grownups Awards show hosted by AARP, which airs February 23 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN. At this year’s ceremony, Helen Mirren will be honored and Alan Cumming hosts. Our event will be a small intimate cocktail party and preview of the program at our Tisch Studio.

For our Media with Impact campaign, we’ve been asking viewers to share stories describing how THIRTEEN has influenced their life. How has THIRTEEN (or the PBS station of your childhood) inspired you?

As a child, I lived in Africa and the Middle East, so I didn’t watch television, but when my own children came along, they were part of the early Sesame Street kids. As an adult, I watched PBS – mainly the Dallas station KERA – for the arts programs and for local programs like Austin City Limits.

Which three shows airing on our stations this month are you most likely to watch, stream, or record?

In March, I’m looking forward to Neary’s, about local restaurateur Jimmy Neary. I’m particularly fond of American Masters – the best biography series around, as well as Secrets of the Dead. I also love Treasures of New York because I learn so much about our, well…treasures!

Where do you live, and what are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?

I live on the Upper East Side in a pre-war landmark building. I love my quiet family neighborhood. I’ve run into some of my Legacy Society donors within a few blocks of my apartment. There are two restaurants just across the street from me – Olá Bar and Eastfield’s; I enjoy both. Further uptown is the reiteration of the classic New York eatery Elaine’s, which is now The Writing Room. And, my very favorite spot for many years – even long before I moved to New York – is a tiny piano bar on East 84th called Brandy’s. If you’re a fan of Broadway stars trying to earn a living singing for their tips, drop by Brandy’s sometime.

What book are you currently reading?

When I see what others write in response to this question, I’m always in awe and feel like I’m not reading anything worthwhile. However, after teaching English for years and working as a lawyer, I feel I’ve read my share of the “good stuff” and now read pop fiction purely for enjoyment. I’m a great fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch or The Lincoln Lawyer. Love a good John Grisham novel. I have many biographies on my shelves, including an autographed copy of Bill Clinton’s book, but I find I don’t get around to finishing them. And, I recently read Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table.

Do you have a special interest or hobby outside of work? If so, tell us about it!

Honestly, I love to cook and entertain. This year, for the second time, I hosted my department holiday party. I also hosted a holiday open house for friends, as well as a dinner party for six. One has to be creative in a small New York City apartment. I’d love to host a cooking show – or, if I could sing, my dream would be to be a cabaret torch singer. Alas, that dream is for my next life.


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