When Crystal Taylor joined our team at WestmorelandFlint last December, most of us knew her only as the master choreographer who organized the acclaimed flash mob at the Greater Downtown Council’s 2011 sidewalk days.
But ever since she danced her way into our Duluth office, Crystal has been inspiring us Flintsters with her philanthropic PR goals, fundraising finesse, upbeat attitude and, of course, her mad dance skills.
Fundraising and philanthropy
As a project manager and public relations specialist at WestmorelandFlint, Crystal helps our clients with media coordination, public relations and strategic planning. She brings to our team a strong passion for, and background in, fundraising for nonprofits.
In talking with Crystal, I learned about her history of directing area fundraising efforts. She’s lived in the Duluth-Superior area all her life, and she told me about her leadership in a variety of community projects, including Extreme Makeover Home Edition project in Wisconsin, a variety of fundraising events for Arc Northand and, most recently, the Enger Park Restoration Project.
“I’ve always taken pride in working with the community,” said Crystal. “It’s important to me to give back in any way I can, so PR and fundraising are a perfect niche for me.”
Dancing her way through life
When I asked Crystal what her greatest passion is outside of work and fundraising, she didn’t hesitate a second.
“Dancing—I love the chance to express myself through movement and interpretation of music,” Crystal said. “Dancing energizes my mind, challenges my body and renews my spirit. It allows me to open my mind and expand my creativity by letting new ideas flow.”
I was surprised to learn that Crystal began taking dance classes when she was just 3 years old, an age when most tots are still focused on holding a crayon or successfully steering a spoonful of mac ‘n cheese into their mouths.
A few years later, Crystal took her dancing to ice with figure skating, which was her main sport for 17 years.
“Figure skating inspired me with a love and passion for performance,” said Crystal. “As I got older, I wanted to keep competing and performing, but I needed a sport that was easier on my body.”
Her search for a less-intense form of dance led her to belly and salsa dancing. She currently performs with the Jewels Bellydancers and a salsa team at Over The Top Dance Studio. She showed me lots of pictures of her and her fellow dancemates in elaborate dance outfits.
Crystal also told me about her involvement with Cheer America, a cheerleading and dance program for children ages 4 to 16. She’s been Duluth’s head Cheer America coach for more than 13 years now.
“Coaching cheer is so much more than just teaching cheerleading; it’s about building young peoples self-esteem, teaching them to work as a team and encouraging exercise that is fun,” she said.
Crystal also uses her social media and PR skills to manage the Cheer America Facebook page.
Between cheerleading, belly dancing and salsa dancing, Crystal is out dancing about three to five nights per week. Her groups perform at community events, as well as at a variety of local venues, including Teatro Zuccone, Weber Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth and The Play Ground.
In addition to performing locally, Crystal’s salsa group danced at the 2012 International Chicago Salsa Congress in Chicago, Ill., and she is excited to share that her belly dancing group will be making an appearance at the 2012 Annual Guild of Oriental Dance Show in Minneapolis, Minn.
Though Crystal keeps her dancing at work to a minimum (we’ve only caught her salsa-ing her way over to the fax machine a couple times), her energetic personality, passion for life, and love of the community are felt, admired and embraced by everyone at Flint.
Get to know a Flintster: Q + A with Crystal!
What’s your dream job?
To be a professional international performing artist.
Which job would you not want to have?
Scooping up dog poop or picking up garbage.
What was your first job?
Figure skating coach at 16 years old.
What did it teach you?
Discipline, great work ethic, the desire to help others achieve their goals and the power of teaching—having the opportunity to watch others grow from what I taught them.
What is one thing you’d be willing to practice for an hour a day?
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Be confident in my talents and strengths and not to worry about what others think.
What sound do you love?
The crisp sound of a figure skating edge cutting into the ice, and the sound of tokens jingling on a belly dance token scarf.
What scent do you love?
Perfume from Victoria’s Secret.