Profiles in Doing Good: Crystal Napier

Profiles in Doing Good is a monthly blog feature in which we introduce you to consultants, community members and supporters who help us carry out our affordable housing mission. Those featured have an interest in making Charlottesville and the surrounding area a better place for all.

Crystal Napier joined our Board of Directors in 2015 and since then has been an invaluable resource and affordable housing advocate since then. Crystal is passionate about equity, equality and improving housing and financial incomes for individuals and families that have often been left out of opportunities.

As we previously announced, Crystal is our new board president so we caught up with her to discuss her priorities for the organization and board, her time on the board thus far, and antiracism at work at Piedmont Housing and beyond. She is the owner of online shopping destination, Renee’s Boutique LLC.

You joined the board in 2015. How has the organization changed since then?

Even though we’re not there yet, we’ve made a lot of strides with changing the entire environment at Piedmont Housing Alliance. We’ve increased our visibility in a positive way by putting a good reputation out there as far as being an advocate in the community. I love the direction that we’re going in with truly understanding and trying to create racial equity in our community.

Crystal Napier is our new Board of Directors president and owner of Renee’s Boutique LLC.

What are some of your top priorities as board president?

One of my top priorities is to ensure that our entire board is involved with our racial equity training. I really think it’s important for us that our organization as a whole get on board with that. I also want to increase board engagement and make board members feel comfortable with each other and know they have a voice and we want to hear it.

One thing Piedmont Housing will be doing this year is working on establishing a volunteer program. Why would you encourage people to volunteer with us?

The overall initiative of the organization – making  sure people have a roof over their head – is a huge part of a basic human right that should encourage folks to want to help with that. Housing is one of those things that if you have any type of human compassion you get how important it is.

Charlottesville has been called a little city with big ideas, or a “small, big city” what do you think of this assessment?

That sounds pretty accurate. I’m motivated to be part of the leadership team because I see us as an organization that is not just bringing big ideas to a small city, we’re go to execute on them. Being on the board for six years, I look forward now to seeing things happen and come true.

Entrepreneurship is top of mind for many in Charlottesville and you’re an entrepreneur. What advice do you have for others who are?

My advice for anybody who’s thinking of entrepreneurship is make sure you do your research because if you just go in off of an idea you run past friends and family and you expect those people to support you, that’s very naïve. Have a business plan.

What resources have you found to be helpful?

I actually went through the Small Business Development Center and they’re teaming up with CIC now. I actually just got the letter that I was accepted into the program. And that’s to increase my network.

Aside from her service at Piedmont Housing Alliance, Crystal also supports Blue Ridge Interfaith Ministries, Abundant Life Ministries, the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and Girls Scouts of America.

Crystal with her husband Shaun, son Micah and the always faithful and playful Simba.
Connect with Crystal and Renee’s Boutique