Crystal Bryant-Agyemang is a fierce advocate, leader, attorney, and public servant with a drive to serve her community. With a background in social work and the law, Bryant-Agyemang is an effective collaborator and organizer, a sought-after leader, and a staunch advocate for Ohioans impacted by the criminal justice system. As Executive Director of the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP, Bryant-Agyemang brings a welcomed perspective to the Foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, a group tasked with improving DEI in Ohio’s civil justice system.
From early in her career, Bryant-Agyemang knew that she wanted to make a difference, initially thinking she may one day run for office. With time and experience, her priorities shifted to other avenues to create change, eventually driving her decision to join the Foundation’s DEI Committee.
“There are multiple ways to attack inequality and inequity, but the judicial system has been one of the strongest pathways to creating equity for persons of color,” Bryant-Agyemang said.
Bryant-Agyemang’s unique background includes a stint as an assistant prosecutor for the City of Cleveland Criminal Division, followed by the top job at the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry, which supports formerly incarcerated Ohioans reentering the community. Now, at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Cleveland Branch, Bryant-Agyemang leads the historic NAACP branch, which works to improve the political, educational, social, and economic status of minority groups.
Bryant-Agyemang’s work at the NAACP includes developing meaningful partnerships around the city with organizations like The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. In a recent collaboration with Huntington Bank, Hebrew Free Loan Association (HFLA) of Northeast Ohio, and East End Neighborhood House, the NAACP invited legal aid to participate in the fifth session of a five-part economic development series to support minority small business owners.
“We wanted to provide a foundation for [legal aid] to speak to minority entrepreneurs, to help them figure out how to create the proper legal structures for their businesses that empowers them to meet the criteria to receive additional support,” Bryant-Agyemang said.
After the success of the series, Bryant-Agyemang and Cleveland Legal Aid are brainstorming how they might continue to work together, particularly as both organizations share a commitment to race equity.
Bryant-Agyemang’s involvement with the Foundation’s DEI committee builds on her ability to form relationships with the organizations and people that amplify her work at the NAACP.
“It’s important to me to think about what I can do to complement my passions and professional endeavors,” she said. “The NAACP is a traditional, long-standing movement to build social justice. It’s legacy work, and we must keep going until we get real results.”
The Ohio Access to Justice Foundation is leading the statewide effort to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in civil legal services. A gift to the Foundation supports this crucial work.