What brought you to Allovue?
I was recruited by Allovue’s CEO, Jess Gartner, who also happens to be a very close friend of mine. Even though I started in 2016, I feel like I’ve been part of Allovue much longer. I remember when it was a question, and then an idea, and then some wireframes, and then seemingly overnight, it became the exceptional company it is today. It’s been an incredible journey.
Jess and I met in 2009 when we were both enrolled at Johns Hopkins University studying for our respective Master’s degrees in teaching while doing Teach for America. After teaching high school for a few years, I moved to New Jersey and managed the recruitment team for a charter management organization during a period of serious expansion. Around the same time, Jess had begun working to secure the initial funding to start Allovue. Once funding was secured, she asked me to come back to Baltimore and run the recruitment and back office department while helping her embed diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices. It was an irresistible opportunity to come back to the city I love, work on something I believe in deeply, and stretch my skill set.
That certainly sounds like an opportunity too good to pass up! What has been the most rewarding part of your job thus far?
I would say the most rewarding part would be collaborating with the leadership team to help the company define the mindsets or values that make us successful. For reference, our mindsets are collaboration, judgment, simplicity, urgency, and initiative. Deciding these essential mindsets well in advance allowed us to design a hiring process that actively assess for those values amongst candidates. It has made us hire more intentionally and, it makes our team incredibly productive.
So beyond the Allovue mindsets, what other assets do you look for in potential team members?
Well, competence is a given. We want people with a track record of excellence. I also strive to look for people who are nerdy in their own unique ways. On our team presently, we have people who speak multiple languages, thespians, writers, hot sauce connoisseurs, makeup artists, praise and worship leaders, and more! They are insanely passionate people who have dedicated hobbies outside of work. That enthusiasm inevitably becomes part of who they are at work too, and we’re much more fun and a happier team as a result. So we look for really well-rounded candidates who can positively add to our Allovue cast of characters.
We also look for people who actively seek to be part of a progressive, equitable, and diverse work environment, because that is what we’re building. We’re not shy about that throughout our hiring process. At Allovue, we have zero tolerance for bigotry and expect our people to continuously develop social awareness.
That’s a refreshingly bold stance for a company to have. What else do you admire about Allovue?
It would have to be our mission to empower educators to strategically and equitably allocate resources to best support the needs of students. As a person, I am driven by social justice and believe education can be an equalizer. There are many pieces to that puzzle, and I think education finance is one hugely important piece that doesn’t always get the airtime it deserves.
Describe a day in the life of the Director of Talent and Operations.
As with most team members at Allovue, every day is so different. I may start the day by screening applications for our open roles and updating hiring managers on where we stand while strategizing on how to get more qualified candidates into our pipeline. If I am onboarding a new team member, I am working closely with that individual to get their paperwork completed, assign them stock options, get them squared away with benefits, and get them set up in our human resource management system and payroll. In the afternoon, I am often meeting with a teammate to help them problem solve or brainstorm. And then there are the last minute requests such as a teammate withdrawing from their 401k, changing tax withholdings, or pulling reports for potential investors.
Who is your hero and why?
My hero is without a doubt my mom, who moved here from Jamaica in 1968 to build a life full of opportunity for her children. She was a nanny, then a factory worker, then a factory worker and a union president, and then settled into office work until she retired. I’m grateful for the courage she had to migrate and the encouragement she provided for me as I did things she never had the chance to do, like attend and graduate from college.
So with all that you do during a typical workday, how do you unwind?
I read a lot, and I have quite the list of recommendations if you’re in need of a good read.
Some that I have read recently that I think are worthy of everyone’s attention include “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and “The Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini.
I think Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X have outstanding autobiographies.
And my favorite books for young people include: “Anne of Green Gables,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Persepolis,” and “The Little Prince.”
If you were a snack, what kind would you be?
Kettle corn. Sweet and salty at the same time. :)
We’re so fortuntate to have Crystal on our team!
Have a question or a book recommendation? Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org