McMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

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Queen City Connection

As the face of Scripps and an actively involved member of the community, Crystal Washington loves running into her fellow Bearcats around Cincinnati.

Date: 3/19/2009
By: Kim Burdett Photos By: Micah Ovadia and Crystal Washington
Crystal Washington (nee Price) started out in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences as a chemistry major. But when she discovered that chemistry wasn’t where her future was going to be, she decided to make a change.

In exploring her options, she knew she wanted to stay within McMicken; the vast array of courses and interdisciplinary education, she knew, would help her succeed in life.

She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1988 with a degree in communication arts (today the Department of Communication), and has used her skills gained here to work her way up the corporate ladder in Cincinnati and other Ohio cities.

Crystal Washington.
Crystal Washington returns to campus on a regular basis for her work with the alumni advisory board.

“While exploring courses that I enjoyed, I knew communication arts was the right degree for me because of the transferability it brought to my work skills and my education,” Washington says. “The flexibility of the degree is great. You can do just about anything with it.”

And anything she did.

After graduation, Washington ditched her tentative plans of becoming a newspaper reporter and went into banking. She spent many years in the financial services industry, serving roles as branch, sales and middle market manager, before returning to her hometown of Columbus to pursue an MBA part time at Capital University.

It was 1997 when Cincinnati called her home. She’s never looked back.

Today, she is the director of community relations at Scripps Networks Interactive in Cincinnati, a company involved in lifestyle-oriented content for television and the Internet.

“As the director of community relations, I’m responsible for all of our philanthropic giving in the local market of Cincinnati,” Washington says. “I am also relationship manager for some of our key partnerships with our cable networks and I’m the face of Scripps in the community.”

Because of her role as a community liaison, Washington needs to talk and get to know a large variety of people around the city, something she passionately enjoys—especially when it puts her in contact with a pool of other UC alums.

For example, when she first returned to Cincinnati, she was stopped on the street by a woman who thought Washington looked familiar. Washington had never seen the woman in her life, and it was after a few minutes of conversation that the woman asked if she had been on the homecoming court at UC while she was a student there.

“It turns out she was a student in the College of Business, and she had seen a picture of me in Tangeman. As a homecoming semifinalist, there was a picture of me plastered on the wall.”

Crystal Washington and family.
This family photo from 1988 shows Crystal in her cap and gown after graduating from UC.

It’s no surprise that people all over the city are recognizing Washington from their times together on campus. She spent much of her time on campus doing exactly what she does now in her career—putting her name out there, developing relationships and making a difference.

While an undergraduate, Washington donated a lot of her time to Alpha Kappa Alpha and worked frequently with the Office of Minority Affairs. She was also involved in the Greek leadership honor society Order of Omega, acted as president of the Panhellenic Council and even served as a student representative on the search committee for a new department head of African-American Studies.

In sum, she tried to make the most out of every opportunity available to her. And that mentality has carried her throughout her adult life as well.

These days, when Washington isn’t carting her 6-year-old daughter to hip-hop and cheerleading practice and acting as the team’s head mom, she is volunteering for a number of boards in the Cincinnati area. She gives time to the March of Dimes, Downtown Cincinnati Inc., Leadership Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce’s women advisory board.

“When I pledged at Alpha Kappa Alpha, one of the core components of the sorority was community involvement,” she explains. “From there, it just helped me to enhance community relationships. I’ve always volunteered. It’s a given.”

So when she got a call from McMicken College’s Advisory Board asking her to volunteer her time, she jumped at the chance. She meets up with fellow A&S graduates every other month to discuss varying matters affecting the college with the dean, involving topics such as alumni relations, community relations and private support.

“I think it’s important to be on the board because I want to do what I can to give back to the university,” Washington says. “Without my degree, I wouldn’t be where I am. It’s important to support programs to engage alumni and help support the students enrolled in the college.”

Ultimately, though, she does it because she’s proud of her alma mater.

“I think it says a lot that I graduated 21 years ago and I’m still coming back to campus on a regular basis,” she says. “My experience at UC was wonderful. It’s an excellent school with a diverse population, a great curriculum and great professors.”

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