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Cynthia Upson, CEA PR Exec For Two Decades, Dies At 49

Cynthia Saraniti Upson, longtime employee, consultant and friend to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), passed away Saturday, Feb. 17, following a battle with lung cancer. She was 49.

Upson joined CEA’s communications department in 1985 and was promoted to VP in 1991. She served in that role, which included marketing for International CES, until 1998 whereupon she moved to Richmond when her husband Don became the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Technology. She continued as a consultant to CEA, the trade group reported.

Upson helped launch some of CEA’s most successful public relations campaigns and was widely recognized throughout the consumer electronics industry for her intelligence, creativity, warmth and passion for the industry.

“The CEA family has lost one of its brightest stars,” said CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro. “Cynthia’s enthusiasm and passion for our industry, indeed for life itself, was contagious and inspirational. Her list of contributions to our industry are many — she helped turn the concept of home theater into household words, she played a key role in making digital television a marketplace success and she helped make the International CES a ‘must cover’ event for news media around the world. More, Cynthia was a true friend to me, to our staff and to many throughout the industry. There are no words to express how much all of us will miss her trademark laugh, her friendship and her counsel. Our hearts are with her family, especially her husband Don and daughter Sarah.”

Upson’s involvement in the consumer electronics industry spanned more than 20 years. She began her tenure with CEA in 1985 serving on the association’s communications staff. She was named communications and strategic relationships VP in 1991 where she led the development of award-winning public relations campaigns in support of industry initiatives on the V-chip, portable audio, home theater, mobile electronics and more.

Upson helped launch several CEA publications, including Vision magazine and the HDTV Guide. Upson also was a founding member of the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers. In January 1999 Upson received TWICE’s Distinguished Achievement Award and in 2006, she received the DTV Academy Award for Outstanding Service.

In memory of Cynthia Upson, contributions can be made to the Lung Cancer Alliance at

Visit for a full obituary on Upson in News, and “We All Loved ‘Cyn’ ” in Viewpoint.