Alumni in Action: Joyel Crawford ’97 shows the importance of advocating for yourself

Crawford, the CEO and Founder of Crawford Leadership Strategies (CLS), said her mission is to motivate and inspire others to take action in their lives and their careers.

Joyel Crawford ’97 graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a theater arts minor. Crawford spent much of her time on campus as a member of a variety of extracurricular activities including the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Elon Theater Arts, Habitat for Humanity and more. Some of her most treasured memories come from her time with the Elon Black Student Union and she has taken that passion into her life as an alumna, currently serving as an Elon Black Alumni Network mentor. In this position, Crawford gets to give back to the community that celebrated her unique skills and abilities while also mentoring other Black students to continue to share their shine at Elon. Crawford left Elon in the hopes of being a guidance counselor and receiving her MBA, unaware of the success that would transpire.

Today, Crawford is located in New Jersey as the CEO and Founder of Crawford Leadership Strategies (CLS). Crawford explains the inspiration behind CLS started while she was working as a Customer Service Representative at Bell Atlantic Mobile, which is known today as Verizon. She soon realized her desire to be the person at the front of the room at New Hire Orientation, training employees rather than sitting behind a desk. Within four years of working there, Crawford began her career in Human Resources.

“The golden thread of leadership development kept pulling me to opportunities where I was helping others get where they needed to go in their career,” says Crawford “It was a full and rich career spanning 18 years, but I felt called to reach more leaders. That is how Crawford Leadership Strategies was born.”

Crawford has had an extensive and successful career so far, not only with the creation of her company CLS but the publication of her book, “Show Your Ask.” The inspiration behind the book came from individuals she mentored, co-workers and friends asking Crawford questions about how she had achieved such great success.

“I didn’t get anywhere in my life and career without asking and speaking up for myself,” explained Crawford. “Since I can’t be everywhere and coach everyone, I wrote this book to reach more people who are challenged with advocating for themselves in life and their careers.”

While reflecting on her time at Elon, Crawford is grateful for every organization and experience at Elon that helped her foster leadership development, mentorship and community. “I was poised and ready to be the leader that I am today, in part due to my time at Elon,” said Crawford.

Thinking back to her time as a first-year at Elon, she had some words of encouragement. “Joy, you got this,” she recalled people in her support system telling her. She reminded herself to document her experiences as best as she can, especially all the activities she gets involved in, and expressed the importance of what she will learn over the next four years and how it will affect her life.

Crawford finished with a gentle nod to her parents, and some wisdom that is only earned with age. “Make sure you spend the entire first day on campus with your parents before running off to orientation events. They’re going to miss you more than you know.”

Crawford’s future looks brighter than ever as she continues to host leadership cohorts and retreats while supporting a variety of organizations with her services. More information can be found on her website and her book “Show Your Ask” can be purchased at major bookstores and on Amazon.