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Crystal Hill

Chief People Officer, AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, 2013 EP Fellow

What led you to apply to EP?
I wanted to make an impact in the education sector and to be intentionally paired with an organization that had a direct need for my skill set was so appealing. I thought to myself, this would be a win-win for us both! 

What projects or initiatives did you undertake as a Fellow?
As a Fellow with Achieve, Inc., I analyzed and presented results of employee engagement surveys and subsequently designed and implemented strategy for improving results. I also launched a new employee handbook, which involved initiatives such as editing and authoring policies and procedures and leading staff trainings, to name a few. Lastly, I redesigned and managed the annual performance review processes to include individual goal setting aligned to organizational goals and objectives. 

How did EP shape your leadership growth and/or professional trajectory?
EP has had a profound impact on my leadership growth. After my Summer Fellowship, I was hired as the Director, Human Resources and Operations at Achieve where I built and executed the organization’s first HR Operational Plan. I went on to become Vice President of Human Resources at the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. I am currently leading the People team at AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation. All of these experiences built on one another and increased my leadership capabilities, teaching me how to build and manage a team, how to think strategically and become a true business partner, and showing me how an impactful, high-functioning HR team can contribute to organizational outcomes. 

What were some key learnings or takeaways from your Fellowship experience?
Through this experience, I learned it definitely takes a wide array of skill sets, backgrounds, and experiences to impact the education sector (to chip away at this iceberg, as we learned in our initial EP training), and those you meet in this space will become dear friends, trusted colleagues and life-time education crusaders that you can reach out to at any time on your journey.

Where have you seen the power of the EP network at play in the broader movement towards educational justice?
I have seen the impact of EP in so many places! For example, when I joined my current organization, we already had two EP Alums leading mission-critical work to advance access to quality early education in this country. At my previous organization, the Urban Institute, I saw several EP Alums serve as researchers advancing public policy issues to improve outcomes for those in need. 

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