Article creator image

BY Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss of the Week: Cynthia Bast

Cynthia Bast

Photo credit: Cynthia Bast

TAGS:Career advice, Career development, Fairygodboss of the Week

Meet Cynthia Bast who is a true trailblazer. She has built her own law practice in the area of affordable housing, helping many -- while still making time to teach her family to "be excellent to each other."

Fairygodboss of the Week: Cynthia Bast
Partner, Head of Affordable Housing and Community Development Section
Locke Lord LLP
Austin, TX

FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
CB: I began my career as a corporate securities lawyer. Just a few months in, I was assigned to work on a private placement transaction for the creation of an investment fund that would acquire interests in affordable housing properties. This particular method of financing affordable housing was relatively new, and I recognized an opportunity to meet a need and fill a niche, while serving a greater good. Over the course of a few years, I shifted my practice to that of a full-time affordable housing lawyer. I was fortunate to have the support of my firm in building this specialized area. Today, we have multiple attorneys, across various states, who work on affordable housing finance and regulatory matters.  

FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
CB: Every time I get to visit one of the developments that our team has worked on; every time I meet a resident being helped by the availability of affordable housing, I am both proud and humbled that we are helping to make a difference.  

FGB: What is a challenge that you’ve faced and overcome?
CB: Every day presents some sort of challenge, big or little. I think the biggest challenge in my professional career has been building a practice from scratch. Most young lawyers in large law firms such as mine come in to be part of an existing practice. They learn both the substance of serving the clients and the business of running a practice from the senior lawyers who mentor them. When I decided to pursue an affordable housing practice, I did not have all the benefits of watching those who had walked the path before. So I got as much help as I could from senior attorneys in other practice areas and forged ahead.

Lightning Round:

FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
CB: My most important jobs are wife, mother, and daughter. So I am often attending performances and athletic contests for my two teen-aged daughters. As a family, we enjoy watching almost anything with a score, particularly baseball. We also enjoy the arts.

FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
CB: I would likely choose a musician who would be a delightful dinner companion and then play/sing for us after dinner. Maybe Stevie Wonder.  Or Yo-Yo Ma.  Eva Cassidy.  The playlist goes on . . . .

FGB: What is your karaoke song?
CB: I have sung in choir but have never done karaoke. Not even late at night at our Firm partner retreats!  

FGB: What is your favorite movie?
CB: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: The Bast family tries to live by the mantra "be excellent to each other." Also, A League of Their Own: Can't beat Jimmy Dugan's line:  "The hard is what makes it great."

FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
CB: Perhaps an old-fashioned set of encyclopedias or an Oxford English Dictionary, so that there could always be something new to learn.

FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
CB: I do love Kate Spade purses when they are on sale. If we won the lottery, I would buy some land and build my husband a championship croquet court.

FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
CB: My very first boss, Nancy Sies, was the executive director of the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra. This was in the mid-80s. She was tough and smart and professional and was able to relate to such a wide variety of constituents, from musicians to high-wealth donors. During my years at TPO, I worked with secretarial duties, accounts payable, and ticket management.  Nancy was willing to give a teen-aged girl an opportunity to learn and try different things, which I greatly appreciated.

When I arrived at Locke Lord, Harriet Miers was part of our executive team and served as our managing partner.  Harriet was a trailblazer for women in law, serving as the "first woman" in many different roles. As a young lawyer, Harriet treated me with the same kindness as she did the senior partners, making me feel welcome and valued. She supported me in my desire to build the affordable housing practice. Harriet is a wonderful role model for a servant leader with lasting influence.

FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share?
CB: One of my favorite women of all time once said this about her job as the head of a private school:  "I don't work here. I serve here. Because I serve here, I do everything differently." By approaching my career with a servant's heart, I feel I give the best I can possibly offer to my law firm, my co-workers, and my clients.  

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? 
Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.

 

You May Also Like

Related Community Discussions

  • I'm a recruiter for the largest staffing and recruiting firm in the country. I'm seeing a lot of people on this thread who are extremely stressed out about finding work, and I think you guys need to start seriously considering working with recruiters to find jobs. NOT ALL RECRUITERS ARE EQUAL! I work for Aerotek, where we value your goals, skills, and interests and we find you a "perfect fit": the job that actually utilizes your experience and abilities. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you are looking for work in the Portland, OR metro area. I can be reached via this thread, and, if you're seriously interested, please let me know and I will share my email.

  • I'm at a relatively senior level in my career, and I'm getting married. I'd like to change my name...but I'm concerned about how it could affect my "brand." First of all, people inside my company and out already know me by my maiden name...But also, will it affect my career prospects and make it seem like I am too focused on marriage?

  • Hi. I have been an Executive Assistant, or some other assistant/operations person for over 30 years. After losing my job of many years due to restructuring, I am looking for a permanent position. I feel as though assistant positions are on the way out, given anecdotal evidence by other assistants as well as executives I've spoken to. Please note that I am in pursuit of my bachelor's, but it is not yet completed. Apparently 30 years of experience doesn't mean anything if I don't have a degree. I've been told that it is recognized that I am intelligent and eager to learn pretty much anything (as well as easy to work with) so do not pigeon-hole myself into going after assistant roles, but I don't know what else I should look into or other keywords to use when searching for positions. Does anyone have any guidance on what kinds of jobs are out there?

  • I am seeking a part time Interior Design position but almost impossible to find unless it is full time. I am even willing to become a receptionist at a furniture store just to get my foot in the door.
    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Any advice regarding age bias? There is a lot of information about diversity and inclusion but not about age discrimination. I'm actually looking for new opportunity and I have the theory that the reason I have been rejected is age. PS I have doctorate degree and over 20 years of experience.

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously