The NEA Foundation Names Crystal Brown Board Chair

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Communications pro brings commitment to student success and deep knowledge of education.

Crystal Brown, Board Chair

Providing a quality public education for all students is the best investment we can make in our future. Nothing is more critical. And the single most important factor in the success of a student is his or her educator.

The NEA Foundation announced that Crystal Brown, chief communications officer at the University of Maryland, will chair its board of directors. The NEA Foundation is a public charity that supports student success by helping public school educators work with key partners to build strong systems of shared responsibility.

“Crystal is passionately committed to ensuring that all students have what they need to thrive and succeed in a rapidly changing global economy. She has a deep expertise in the education field and in strategic communications, having represented education clients from the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Her guidance and leadership are especially important, now, as we undertake bold efforts to re-conceptualize the focus and role of educators to improve learning conditions for all students.”

“Providing a quality public education for all students is the best investment we can make in our future. Nothing is more critical. And the single most important factor in the success of a student is his or her educator,” said Crystal Brown. “The NEA Foundation funds programs that support educator-driven solutions. Advancing the profession and helping educators increase student achievement is at the very core of what we do. I am delighted to accept this leadership role during a pivotal time in our history.”

Brown, a seasoned communications leader, currently serves as the chief communications officer for the University of Maryland (UMD). She has more than 15 years of experience leading award-winning communications campaigns for some of the nation’s leading education-focused corporations, non-profit organizations, and foundations. As chief communications officer for UMD, Brown is responsible for the development of communications strategies that enhance the university’s reputation locally, nationally, and internationally. She serves as the university’s spokesperson and oversees the central communications office, including reputation management, media relations, social media, public affairs, and strategic communications initiatives.

Previously, Brown held the position of senior vice president for the PK-12 education practice at Widmeyer Communications agency, overseeing the firm’s largest education clients, including W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Brown also served as senior vice president of E-Luminate Group, a marketing and strategic communications firm specializing in education technology and education policy. During her 10 year tenure, she successfully raised the national profile of many companies and advocacy organizations, including the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Dell, LeapFrog, Blackboard, NEA Member Benefits, the Institute for Museums & Library Services, 3M, and the National Council on the Aging. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Communications Skills.

“Crystal is a savvy and strategic leader and expert in her field. She offers the NEA Foundation a unique perspective on public education drawn from her experience and relationships within the academic, public, non-profit, and private sectors,” Sanford said. “The Foundation will greatly benefit from her experience and commitment to education reform, as she moves into a new leadership role on our Board.”

The NEA Foundation

The NEA Foundation is an independent, public charity supported by contributions from educators, corporate sponsors, and others. The NEA Foundation partners with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning.

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Carrie McCloud
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