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Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall's Faith-Fueled Rise, Rebirth and Joy-Filled 'Rule'

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Women In Power

Cynt Marshall rewrites the book. She has numerous times.

She was one of the first Black cheerleaders at UC Berkeley, the first African-American chair of the North Carolina State Chamber of Commerce, and her high school's first Black female senior class president back in Richmond, California.

Marshall became the first black female CEO of the NBA when she joined the Dallas Mavericks in March 2018. She says owner Mark Cuban was looking to change his team's lot. He sought to alter history, not make it.

The 62-year-old has taken on the position with excitement and pride, leading the Dallas Mavericks organization ever since.

As CEO of the Mavs, Marshall oversees daily operations. After meetings, appearances, and strategy sessions, she will typically take a seat behind the team's bench at the American Airlines Center. Marshall arrives 45 minutes before the game starts, waving and addressing everyone she knows by name.

“My energy comes from the Lord. The Lord sustains me. You know the song, ‘This joy I have, the world didn’t give it to me?’ Well, it’s the same with the strength I have. I get tired like everyone else,” Marshall says. “The Lord gave it to me. Especially after he blessed me to come through cancer. I am running and I’m not tired yet—we got work to do.”

Marshall's success is a tribute to her bravery and perseverance. She was identified as having stage 3 colon cancer in 2010, and this summer will mark 11 years since her last chemotherapy treatment.

She kept a journal as she battled cancer, but this year Marshall decided to publish an autobiography.

"I wanted to be a writer. When I informed my mother that I had cancer, she remarked, ‘This is for His glory.’" According to Marshall, God will use cancer to tell His story. “We'll see what people think. It's meant to inspire. I want people to understand all sides of cancer—the good, bad, and ugly. I eagerly anticipate people reading it.”

After 36 years with AT&T, where she promoted workplace diversity and culture, Marshall joined the Mavs. She wanted Dallas to set an example for the NBA in terms of inclusivity and diversity, with a focus on cooperation, character, respect, honesty, fairness, and physical and emotional safety. “These principles serve as the foundation for everything we do, say, and plan. I work with wonderful individuals at the finest sports organization in the world.”

The Mavs and her personal life are guided by her faith and servant leadership. "I'm motivated to help people."

Dallas Casa, a nonprofit that assists children who have been abused or neglected, is chaired by Marshall. "I want us to help kids who are in need and to place them in long-term, secure homes with loving parents. These children need to be saved.”

She wants to show young boys and girls that everything is possible.

Teenagers should understand they can do anything if they so choose, according to Marshall. “When I was little, my mother taught me the poem, ‘Be The Best.’ No matter what you want to achieve or where the Lord sends you, be the best and have faith that you can do anything.

"Once you decide, be the best," advises Marshall. "Don't impose limitations. There are none.”

She gave Poizon Ivy, the Mavs' go-to entertainment expert, some ideas. Ivy had a childhood dream of becoming the first female commissioner of the NBA; Cynt's position as the first black female CEO shows that anything is possible. She leads with an unmatched combination of swagger, humility, assurance, and accountability.

"I'm always told how fortunate we are to work under her and follow her guidance. She makes leadership seem effortless, so I aspire to be like her.”

Marshall is the NBA's first Black female CEO, but she believes there will be many more. She is diligently pursuing that.

“We work better as a team when we have a diverse set of people with different skills,” she says.

Marshall imagines a triangle with a woman's heart, hands, and head as its sides. “To do great things, women combine their hands, hearts, and minds. We are shrewd, tenacious, and capable of turning 15 cents into a dollar. We’re very thoughtful.”

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