How a legislative expert used the Branding Box to manage outreach and PR

Krysta founded her own organization and purchased the Branding Box to help her to promote the work she was doing through the Virginia Leadership Institute. Learn more about Krysta and her organization.


 

My mother always thought I would be a lawyer because I did not like inequity from an early age. My first job in DC was in the Government Relations Department with the American College of Ob-Gyns. I was hooked. I became addicted to C-SPAN, learned how Capitol Hill worked, and came to appreciate the power of advocates and lobbyists in DC.

 I wanted to take the knowledge that I acquired and make sure more communities knew how to “gain a seat at the table” and advocate for themselves. I decided to join the Peace Corps, and the experience perfectly complemented the work I did in DC. While I was in Paraguay in the Peace Corps, I grew both personally and professionally. In Paraguay, they were not used to seeing Black people so I was taunted and stared at. While at the time I was insulted, I grew to learn that it was because I was different. Peace Corps sends you to a community and you have the opportunity to build relationships, establish goals, and implement projects—despite your differences—a skill I would use many times throughout my career. Tasked with “democracy building”, I helped start student governments and worked with a radio station to help them better create a transparent society.

While studying legislative affairs for my master’s degree at The George Washington University, I wrote my thesis on the lack of Black congresspeople in Virginia. Instead of making it purely academic, I decided to create a blueprint of an organization to solve the problem.  In 2006, I identified a need and founded Virginia Leadership Institute, Inc., which has trained and impacted over 300 Black future political candidates and leaders–30 have run for office, 10 were elected, and 10 received commission appointments.

Professionally, I successfully represented two associations for eight years as a registered lobbyist, advocating for women’s and socio economic status issues and served as the Director of Outreach for two Members of Congress. While on the Hill, I designed outreach strategies, developed relationships with key community leaders and communicated their legislative agenda via meetings and over 20 congressional events. Today, I serve as the Program Manager for the national headquarters of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. In this role, I represent the organization to our national partners and develop programming which affects the lives of thousands of people each year, and helps them get their seat at the table in communities around the world.

 Lavern Chatman, former President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League has been a key mentor and supporter. She always made time to provide advice, resources or share her network to support my community endeavors. I attend women’s and business conferences, and enjoy Success magazine CDs for tips and profiles of business leaders. I highly recommend the book Seeing Yourself as Others Do: Authentic Executive Presence at Any Stage of Your Career as an excellent guide on authentic executive presence. The way you communicate, dress, and act, are all critical components to success. Always do your best to make a good impression.

Packaging her Genius to get a seat at the table

I started packaging my genius in 2006 when I founded the Virginia Leadership Institute. While the objective was to prepare African Americans to run for office, as the spokesperson for the organization, I wrote, spoke and encouraged future candidates to run and become engaged. The collateral materials—website, presentations, brochures, workshops—were largely inspired by my personal experience and training.

 

As a nonprofit leader, financial support is extremely important. In order to be a true influencer and provide more opportunities to my clients, I must be able to develop a broader base of fundraising support. Next year I will be serving on the board of directors for the Junior League of Northern Virginia, where I can further hone my leadership and fund development skills, increasing my impact.

The Branding Box encouraged me to create additional collateral materials, seek more public relations opportunities, refine my story and my audience, and develop a pricing structure. It is my constant companion as I grow my selfless hobby into an enterprise.

Today I package my genius through inspiring others. I believe most people have an inner voice calling them to do something more–to empathize and to act. Most of us don’t know the steps to take.

How Krysta Packages Her Genius

How to guide, A Seat at the Table: A Guide to Finding Your Voice as an Advocate and Political Leader

  • Guest blog posts with ArlNow.com
  • Local TV show A Seat at the Table
  • Leadership roles on commissions and boards
  • Presentations, Workshops, Speeches and Consultations