Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Colorado


  • J.D., Yale Law School, 1984
  • B.A., Wellesley College, 1978
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Cynthia (Cindy) M. Lewin


Cindy Lewin is chair of Venable's Nonprofit Organizations Practice. Cindy is known for using risk assessment and analysis, negotiation skills, and practical problem-solving to move mission-driven nonprofit organizations toward their goals. She formerly served as AARP's executive vice president and general counsel, where she led the organization's legal, ethics and compliance, and risk management teams for over seven years. During her tenure with AARP, she represented the organization in connection with a number of congressional investigations, streamlined governance functions, introduced a new code of conduct, provided creative legal solutions for new initiatives, and managed a variety of litigation matters, including class actions. Prior to this position, Cindy served as senior vice president and general counsel of the National Wildlife Federation, where she led the legal, information technology, human resources, and office services teams and served as secretary. Prior to that, she served as the executive vice president and general counsel of Volunteers of America, one of the country's top 20 largest charities. At all three organizations, Cindy handled acquisitions and other corporate restructurings. She also handled corporate sponsorships, cause-related marketing, licensing, fundraising issues, joint ventures, and a variety of innovative revenue-generating ideas.

Prior to her in-house work, Cindy was in private practice for more than 10 years. She was a partner at a boutique nonprofit law firm in Washington, DC, where she represented numerous nonprofit organizations, including charities, advocacy organizations, labor unions, and trade associations, in matters involving tax, contract negotiation and review, and fundraising, among other issues. Before this, she was an associate at a national law firm in Washington, DC, where she focused on tax-exempt organizations.

Cindy served on the Ethics and Accountability Advisory Group for Independent Sector, which revised the Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice for charities nationwide (the new version was released in 2015). She serves on the board of directors of the nonprofit National Human Services Assembly, where she chaired the CEO Search Committee and the Governance Committee, serves on the board and executive committee of Friends of the National Zoo, and served as chair of the National Adjudicatory Council for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). She also chaired the Exempt Organizations Committee of the DC Bar's Taxation Section and the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the national bar association for in-house counsel. Cindy has received numerous awards, including being named one of "Washington's Most Influential In-House Counsels" by Legal Times and one of "DC's Top Corporate Counsel" by the Association of Corporate Counsel—National Capital Region and Legal Bisnow, and received a First Chair Award as a Top General Counsel in 2017. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on nonprofit legal and governance issues.