Our People

Crystal Hayling

Board Member

Growing up a Black girl in the South, Crystal’s survival depended upon her navigating social hierarchy, where she had to fight to be seen, heard, and taken seriously. Despite the fact that both of her parents were professionals, Crystal’s family experienced racial terrorism that endangered their existence and stripped away generational wealth. Early on in her life, Crystal committed herself to naming and correcting that injustice for all communities experiencing anti-Blackness, exploitation, and oppression.

“The frontline communities Libra supports are my teachers. At the foundation, our goal is to listen. We honor interdependence, disrupt philanthropic patterns that prioritize productivity over humanity, and support a new culture that centers justice and liberation,” says Crystal. As executive director, Crystal is cementing Libra’s dedication to being the type of funder that social movements need to bring forth progressive wins. She has brought together a team of empathic, knowledgeable, and curious individuals who are executing on that vision. With 30+ years of philanthropic and nonprofit experience, Crystal likes to say, “I’ve pretty much made all the mistakes already.”

With Libra, Crystal has brought a fresh vision of philanthropy that rejects business as usual and is responsive to the needs of frontline communities. Since 2017, Crystal has worked with the Libra board to advance these goals, including doubling Libra’s grantmaking in 2020 in light of the global pandemic and uprisings, and launching the Democracy Frontlines Fund, an aligned giving strategy that raised $45 million in unrestricted, multiyear support for a slate of Black-led organizations.

Crystal is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Prior to Libra, Crystal served as CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, where she spearheaded work to achieve universal health coverage. She was also part of the founding team at The California Wellness Foundation, where she led a groundbreaking initiative to shift youth violence prevention from a criminal justice issue to a public health effort. Crystal currently serves on the boards of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Essie Justice Group, and Community Change. She frequently writes and publishes on leading-edge topics in philanthropy, and Inside Philanthropy named Crystal “2021 Foundation Leader of the Year.”

Outside of Libra, Crystal can be found in her garden, vigorously reading, listening to music, and going on long walks with her dogs. She’s looking forward to live music and movies again. Crystal lives in San Mateo, CA with her husband and their two teenage sons.

Democracy Fund
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