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Tag: Crystal D. Crawford

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YLS partners with alum’s law firm in new social justice foundation

“The foundation’s advisory board — made up of prominent legal professionals such as former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno ’70 and Executive Director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty Crystal Crawford — will help select the cases that the fellows will take on.

“We look forward to partnering with the Foundation on impactful work to advance economic dignity, housing, health, and basic needs for low-income Californians,” Crawford said in Hueston Hennigan’s press release.”

YLS partners with alum’s law firm in new social justice foundation

PRESS RELEASE: Western Center on Law & Poverty to Honor Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley with Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award


Virtual Garden Party event will honor Shockley’s lifetime of work for equal justice, and feature a conversation with Los Angeles Times Reporter Steve Lopez & Western Center’s new Executive Director, Crystal D. Crawford

Los Angeles, CA — On Thursday, October 8th, Western Center on Law & Poverty will present Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley with its Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award at the organization’s 36th annual Garden Party. The award is named for retired California appellate court justice Earl Johnson, and honors leaders who have dedicated their career to providing Californians with equal justice under the law.

Garden Party is an event highlighting Western Center’s efforts in California courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol on behalf of people experiencing poverty. Every year, Western Center honors three to five people or institutions who have made an extraordinary contribution, either through their partnership with Western Center or through their lifelong commitment to social justice.

Shockley exemplifies Western Center principles in many ways. She was named Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity for the City of Los Angeles in July of 2016, and appointed Chief Equity Officer in June, 2020. As a leader in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, Shockley focuses on the prevention of homelessness and poverty through education, training, and employment that provides a living wage. Shockley’s work also addresses racial equity, workforce development, housing, and community development.

Shockley was President of Community Build for over 24 years before her appointments from Mayor Garcetti. Community Build was incorporated in 1992 in response to civil unrest, in an effort to revitalize South Los Angeles through human investment and commercial and economic development. Shockley oversaw the development of 16,000 square feet of commercial space in Leimert Park, which serves as a center for the African American community. Her work to revitalize South L.A. has led to more than $100 million of investment in education, employment and training programs. Western Center is proud to honor Deputy Mayor Shockley with the Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award for her persistent efforts to make Los Angeles a city that supports and uplifts its residents.

“Brenda is a jewel of South Los Angeles who has served the people of Los Angeles faithfully for decades,” said Crystal D. Crawford, Western Center’s new Executive Director. “She is a true freedom fighter and warrior for justice who has helped transform Los Angeles.”

Each year, Garden Party is attended by hundreds of attorneys, philanthropists, business people, legal services providers, community based partners, and many more. Though this year’s event is virtual due to the pandemic, Garden Party will again highlight contributions from individuals and organizations working on behalf of people experiencing poverty across the state.

In addition to Shockley, Garden Party honorees who will be recognized on Thursday, October 8th include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, receiving the Max Gillam Pro Bono Award; Hope Nakamura of Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, receiving the Mary Burdick Advocates Award; Delilah L. Clay of Manatt Phelps, for her work on the Crown Act, which prevents workplace discrimination based on hair; and Anthony Robles of Youth Justice Coalition, a lead advocate in the successful movement to end juvenile justice fees in California.

The event will also feature a conversation between award-winning author and Los Angeles Times reporter, Steve Lopez, and Western Center’s new Executive Director, Crystal D. Crawford.

More information on Garden Party — how to attend and get involved — can be found here.


Suzanne Convery, Director of Development — sconvery[at]

Courtney McKinney, Director of Communications — cmckinney[at]



New Executive Director of Western Center On Law & Poverty named

“After a nationwide search, the Board of Directors of Western Center on Law & Poverty has chosen Crystal D. Crawford to be its next Executive Director. Crawford is currently a program director at The California Wellness Foundation, a position she has held since 2012. Crawford will be the first Black woman or woman of color to serve as the organization’s Executive Director.”

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Western Center names Crystal D. Crawford its new Executive Director

Crawford Brings Decades of Experience in Strategic Philanthropy, Policy Advocacy and Social Justice

LOS ANGELES – After a nationwide search, the Board of Directors of Western Center on Law & Poverty has chosen Crystal D. Crawford to be its next Executive Director. Crawford is currently a program director at The California Wellness Foundation, a position she has held since 2012. Crawford will be the first Black woman or woman of color to serve as the organization’s Executive Director.

A seasoned leader with more than 20 years of senior management experience in the legal, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, Crawford has played a pivotal role in advancing the health and economic security of low-income Californians, women of color and communities of color.

At Cal Wellness, she developed and led the organization’s groundbreaking Women’s Initiatives, a multi-million dollar program that amplifies the voices of women of color and provides philanthropy and policymakers with a vision for how to advance the health and economic security of women of color. She also helmed Cal Wellness’ legacy portfolio, Increasing Diversity in the Health Professions, which has supported community-based organizations, academic institutions and countless people of color pursuing and sustaining health professions careers.

“It’s an honor to lead Western Center in this season of renewed community commitment to fighting systemic racial and economic injustice,” said Crystal. “I am proud to stand on the shoulders of prior Western Center Executive Directors, including social justice heroes Professor Derrick Bell and Judge Terry Hatter. Right now, we find ourselves in the battle of a lifetime, so I’m energized to join forces with this smart, passionate team in fighting for justice. In the words of Ella Baker and Sweet Honey in the Rock, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’”

Founded over 50 years ago in the wake of the Watts rebellion, Western Center remains committed to building upon its roots in the fight for racial justice. The last several years have been a whirlwind of assaults on past civil rights wins, and Western Center has been on the forefront of advocacy and legal battles at the local, state and federal levels.  With Crystal’s leadership, Western Center will continue to mobilize its considerable resources, networks, and power to change the systems and institutions that perpetuate systemic inequality.

“Crystal is a visionary who brings stellar operational and strategic leadership expertise — along with a deep commitment to valuing community voices — to this position,” said David Elson, Co-Chair of Western Center’s Board of Directors. “We’re confident that she’s the perfect person to lead us as we continue our fight to upend the systems that keep people in poverty.”

Prior to her work with Cal Wellness, Crawford was CEO of the California Black Women’s Health Project, the only statewide organization devoted to improving the health of California’s Black women and girls through policy, advocacy, education and outreach. Prior to joining CABWHP, she served as Legal Director for the Alliance for Children’s Rights. Before working in the nonprofit, public interest sector, Crawford was a litigation associate at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and a summer associate with major corporate law firms in Los Angeles, Boston and New York. She began her post-collegiate career as a public school teacher in Harlem.

Crawford is active in the leadership of numerous civic and community organizations. She sits on the five-member Los Angeles County Public Health Commission and is a member of the Women’s Health Policy Council for the Los Angeles County Office of Women’s Health. She also sits on the Dartmouth Alumni Council and serves on the boards of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Foundation and Funders Concerned About AIDS. She previously served on the boards of Dartmouth College’s Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College, Health Access California, SisterSong, and on the advisory council for the California Breast Cancer Research Program.

Crawford is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 Advocates’ Award from Western Center, the 2012 PowerPAC Award from the Los Angeles African American Women’s Political Action Committee, and the 2015 Outstanding Women of the City Club Award.

Originally from Harlem, New York and Teaneck, New Jersey, Crawford earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College and law degree from the New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.  She is admitted to the bar in California, New York and New Jersey.

Crawford will transition from her current position at Cal Wellness and start with Western Center in early August. She will be based at Western Center’s headquarters in Los Angeles.