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National Geographic Leadership

Crystal Brown

Chief Communications Officer

Photograph by Justin Knight/Howard University

As the chief communications officer at the National Geographic Society, Crystal Brown advances the Society's mission by implementing innovative media, communications, and marketing campaigns that promote and amplify its vision, people, programs, and impact with audiences worldwide. In this role, she oversees brand strategy, strategic communications, content integration, digital and social media, public policy, and all creative assets, including photography and video.

Brown brings more than 20 years of marketing and strategic communications experience to the Society, including service spanning several mission-driven organizations, nonprofits, foundations, and higher education institutions. Most recently, she served as executive vice president of Hager Sharp's education, labor, and economy practice, where she was responsible for setting direction, vision, and strategy for the division, as well as driving business development efforts.

Brown’s prior leadership experience includes roles at two nationally ranked universities. She served on the president’s cabinet as vice president and chief communications officer at Howard University. During her tenure, Brown led the development and implementation of a comprehensive communications and branding strategy for the institution and its assets, advancing the reputation of the university, Howard University Hospital, and its 13 schools and colleges. She had previously served as chief communications officer and spokesperson for the University of Maryland, where she oversaw the school’s strategic communications efforts and approach. 

Early in her career Brown led communications at boutique agencies for a diverse portfolio of clients, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and Blackboard.

Brown serves on boards for Linked Learning Alliance, the Ridley Scholarship Fund at the University of Virginia, the UVA Alumni Association’s Board of Managers, and DreamBox Learning. She is the prior board chair for the National Education Association Foundation. She is a member of ColorComm, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia.