Ethnic GEM : Crystal Lander
Updated: Jun 24
Say hello to Philly native Ms. Crystal Lander, Executive Director of Global Affairs at Pathfinder International, a global women’s health organization headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, that helps women and children in more than 20 countries gain access to healthcare, education, and family planning services.
Crystal is responsible for leading the design and delivery of advocacy campaigns, overseeing advocacy strategies, and serving as an ambassador for the organization on a global scale. She is an experienced senior policy and development expert, both here in the United States and around the world.
Equipped with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Economics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and a Master of Public Health in International Health Policy from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Crystal is primed to effectively carry out her passion of having an impact on the WORLD!
She currently resides in Washington, DC, where she is close to lawmakers to ensure things are getting done. Prior to joining Pathfinder, Crystal developed and led the advocacy team at Living Goods. While there, she and her team worked to drive lasting and systemic impact that will help enable every family to access quality health care in the community in which they live. Crystal also developed and led the advocacy unit at Management Sciences for Health (MSH) for more than seven years, where she successfully managed the organization’s engagement on global health policy in the United States and in more than 30 countries.
I asked Crystal about her journey into the global health and development field, and she indicated that “when I went to college, I was completely unclear as to how I was going to make an impact in the world, but I knew I wanted to do something that made the world better. Working in public health has given me so much personally and allows me to use my ability to connect with people to improve health access globally.”
With the guidance of mentors Dorothy Buckhannon Wilson, the 29th AKA President and Belkis Giorgis, Global Gender expert, Crystal learned valuable lessons of preparation, confidence, creating balance and leadership. Her former boss at CEDPA, Ketayoun Darvich-Koujouri, played a key role in shaping how to balance work, motherhood, and self-care while traveling the world. Michelle Russell with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) showed her how rare – yet imperative –it is to see African American women in leadership roles in the global health and development field. She hopes to inspire more people of color to consider global development as a career choice in the same way she was inspired by her mentors.
When Crystal is not making an impact on global health policies and best practices globally, she finds time to actively get involved with Rotary International, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jack and Jill of America, and National Association of Parliamentarians, all of which are near and dear to her heart. Her downtime includes reading historical fiction and books by women of color authors. Currently, she is reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.
Crystal is a world class traveler, both domestically and internationally – her work has taken her to more than 50 countries across the globe – but she tells me that India, Mozambique, and Egypt are places she’s most passionate about visiting over the next few years. When not traveling you can find Crystal riding her Peloton bike, which she says helps keep her in shape both mentally and physically.
Over the next five years Crystal plans to continue working in public health and possibly living overseas, perhaps in South Africa or Ghana.
Please join me in welcoming Crystal Lander as an Ethnic GEM!