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Cynthia Colbert Riley, MLA ’95, Is Named 2022 Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB, Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus of the Year

Cynthia Colbert Riley, MLA '95, 2022 Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB, Distinguished Alumnus of the YearCynthia Colbert Riley, MLA ’95, has received the highest honor the University of St. Thomas-Houston can bestow upon a former student—the 2022 Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB, Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award.

Each year, this award goes to one outstanding nominee who has remained actively engaged with the University. The honored individual is one who works tirelessly to make a difference both personally and professionally. Moreover, the selected former student is a superb demonstrator of the Basilian core values—goodness, discipline, knowledge and community.

The award took Riley by surprise. She said, “I was surprised and honored when I learned I had been selected for the Guinan Award, joining the ranks of the many alumni who proudly give so much to UST, helping to make it the University it is today.” 

Riley’s Good Works Abound

Riley is a veteran fundraiser with more than 30 years of experience. This dedicated, skilled professional has helped raise nearly $500M for worthy organizations within the Houston community, including Houston Methodist Hospital and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She currently serves as a senior director of development at Rice University George R. Brown School of Engineering. Her non-profit work always seeks to “achieve transformational results in philanthropy.” In 2012, she was recognized as Greater Houston’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional.

Following that impressive accolade, Riley returned to UST as vice president for Institutional Advancement from 2012 to 2017. There, she led the record-breaking “Faith in Our Future” campaign alongside then President Dr. Robert Ivany and David Harvey, which raised $146M.  

UST Director of Alumni Relations Amy Youngblood said, “At UST, we pride ourselves on building leaders of faith and character. Cynthia Colbert Riley is an alumna who demonstrates those values and leadership qualities in everything she does. The University is ever grateful to Cynthia for including action in her affection for her alma mater.”

Meaning and Purpose in Life

Riley said UST inspired her with an ongoing drive for meaning and purpose.

“It’s what we live for,” she said. “Meaning and purpose allow us to live life to its fullest. The University has been a guiding force for me throughout the years, helping me journey that path.”

The philanthropically minded alumna believes all people are called to action and love.

“God has given each of us unique gifts, and it is our responsibility to discover those gifts and use them in our community to bring Christ’s light into our world.”

An Alumna Smitten with Goodness

During the past few years, while her husband has battled severe health issues, Riley has continued to contribute to a personal blog she founded called “Smitten With Goodness” (www.smittenwithgoodness.com). Riley, who is presently working to earn her Spiritual Director certification, shines a light on God’s truth and goodness by sharing her story in her online posts.

UST is blessed to have the love and support of outstanding alumna Cynthia Colbert Riley. St. Thomas gratefully recognizes her with our 2022 Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB, Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award.