For those who knew Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, there were two sides of her.
One was the serious, driven, intelligent and charismatic television executive who dedicated herself to multicultural marketing and creating diversity initiatives for decades.
The other, family members said, was a woman who was generous, loving and who always made time for her family and youth empowerment.
“She had a certain glow about her, and once I saw that, I tried to connect with her,” said her husband, Jeffery Roberts, 60, of Westbury, as he recalled meeting his future wife more than 30 years ago in Queens through their respective churches. “But even back then, she wasn’t trying to get married, nor was I. She was more concerned with going to school and being her own person.”
Yet despite this, Jeffery said, he began courting Perkins-Roberts. Eventually, the two fell in love, and they married in April 1987 in Brooklyn.
Perkins-Roberts died Jan. 1 in her sleep at her home in Westbury, due to complications from colon cancer. She was 54.
One of three children of the late Mary Perkins, a stay-at-home mom, and Charles G. Perkins, who owned a furniture company, Cynthia Perkins was born March 11, 1964, in Jamaica Estates, Queens. She was predeceased by one of her two brothers, George.
Jessica Roberts, Perkins-Roberts’ older daughter, said her grandparents taught her mother the value of love and hard work.
“She was always a great mom, and she put us first. She loved us endlessly,” Jessica said. “She would always go above and beyond for her girls, so she was always an incredible mom. She wanted us to be the best version of ourselves. And as she got older, we always tried to show her the same love and respect that she showed us.”
Perkins-Roberts held a bachelor’s degree in political and speech communication from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After working sales positions with Discovery Communications and Capital Cities/ABC, Perkins-Roberts landed at the Video Advertising Bureau, a Manhattan-based advocacy group that represents and advocates for nationwide broadcast and ad-supported cable and regional cable networks, and major cinema advertising companies, among others.
Perkins-Roberts worked for 25 years at the agency, eventually becoming vice president of multicultural marketing and sales development.
In a statement, Sean Cunningham, the agency’s president and CEO, credited Perkins-Roberts with initiating several multicultural marketing connections among networks, agencies, advertisers and research companies, which led to the publishing of “a wealth of diversity media resources and invaluable information for industry professionals.”
Among Perkins-Roberts’ professional accolades: She was named one of Cable World magazine’s “Most Influential Minorities in Cable,” appointed to the Nielsen African-American Television Advisory Council, and served as co-chair of the Advertising Women of New York’s Multicultural Alliance.
Perkins-Roberts also founded the Youth Empowerment Series at Cedarmore Corp., developing Girlz Talk and BoysN2Men in 2013. The series was renamed in her honor after her death.
"Cynthia founded her Girlz Talk in her love for her own girls, Jessica and Lexi," said Jeffery Roberts. "It was her passion to give back to the communities from which she herself was born. She saw it as a community that was underserved and in need of a fresh perspective and a greater hope beyond themselves; if given an opportunity, they could and would succeed."
However, no matter how busy she would get with emails and meetings and projects, Perkins-Roberts would find time to travel with family, go to Broadway plays with her husband, and to find presents for her children, even if it meant tracking down gifts as far away as world-famous department store Harrods in London.
“No matter how busy she got, she would always come through,” Jeffery Roberts said. “She would never let her work stop her from being the greatest wife on earth.”
Services were held Jan. 11 at Zion Cathedral Church of God in Christ in Freeport, followed by burial at Pinelawn Memorial Park, Pinelawn. In addition to her husband, and daughter Jessica, 21, of Westbury, she is survived by daughter Alexis Roberts, 19, also of Westbury; her father, Charles G. Perkins, 78, of Queens Village; her brother, Charles I. Perkins, 51, of Glen Oaks; her niece Kiara Perkins and nephew Carleton Perkins, both of Glen Oaks; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.