Krystal Harrell brings youth to the Blumenthal board of trustees

Krystal Harrell brings youth to the Blumenthal board of trustees




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PHOTO | DANIEL COSTON
Krystal Harrell is the youngest board member in Blumenthal Performing Arts’ history.

Krystal Harrell has a lot to say.

The youngest person to ever hold a seat on the Blumenthal Performing Arts Board of Trustees as a trustee apprentice, she is one of nine new members who were confirmed to the board on Jan. 28 during the organization’s annual meeting at Booth Playhouse. Other additions include: Tom Eiselt, Jen Henry, Jaime Monday, Richard Nichols, Rasu B. Shrestha MD, Evan Turtz, Tariq Bokhari and Reneé Johnson. Harrell will serve two years.

“I have the same responsibilities as the other members, but my only difference from everyone else is that I don’t have a vote, and without having a vote, I don’t have the financial responsibilities,” she said.

Harrell, 31 and an Army veteran, was named “The Next-Generation Female Entrepreneur” by Fortune Magazine at age 23. She also earned the Merrill Lynch Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Harrell founded Miss Business Ventures, of which she serves as chairman and CEO. Her expertise includes entrepreneurial experience, marketing and business strategy, as well as content creation.

“I’m so thankful that Krystal agreed to join our board as an apprentice trustee,” Blumenthal CEO Tom Gabbard said. “She has been active as a trusted advisor on numerous special projects and overall institutional communications.  We know her insight and advice is valued by many, and are glad she was willing to contribute to the governance and strategic thinking of our trustee leaders. Our past apprentice trustees have gone on to serve on other arts and community boards, so everyone wins by this program.”

Harrell has been in Charlotte for 11 years as an independent consultant, but it was not until 2015 that her relationship with Blumenthal began.

“I work with nonprofit and corporate brands, helping them to reach millennials and minority consumers,” Harrell said. “In 2015, Coca-Cola Consolidated, who was a client of mine at the time, was a partner of Blumenthal when they were bringing Breakin’ Convention [here]. That’s when the introduction with Blumenthal happened with myself.”  

Blumenthal’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications Wendy Oglesby found Harrell’s ideas intriguing.

“After the meeting, she asked if she could take me to lunch to discuss becoming a consultant for [Blumenthal],” Harrell said.

Harrell helped with social media and digital marketing for less than two months before Blumenthal officials asked her to join their marketing committee. She has worked with them for the last five years.

At her annual meeting with Gabbard, Harrell expressed her interest in increasing her responsibilities with the organization.

“He took that pretty seriously, and there was an open opportunity to join the board,” she said. “They created a special role for me. This is my first board seat.”

Harrell grew up heavily involved in performing arts, yet she described Blumenthal as “stuffy” prior to her addition to the team. From the exterior, it did not appeal to younger audiences, nor did it cater to minorities.

“For a person of color like myself, I just didn’t feel as if that was a space where I would be welcomed or I belonged,” Harrell said. “My peers weren’t speaking of Blumenthal in a way of partnership, or in a way of involvement. I didn’t have as much information about the organization as I’ve had with organizations from my hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. There was a disconnect.”

Harrell took it upon herself to tackle these issues, making diversity and inclusion

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