Libra Foundation Board Lauds the Leadership of ED Crystal Hayling As She Announces Retirement in 2024

San Francisco, CA – The Libra Foundation announced today that Executive Director Crystal Hayling will be stepping down in 2024, wrapping up a six-year tenure marked by extraordinary accomplishments, including the founding of the Democracy Frontlines Fund in 2020. This transition will also mark the end of her extraordinary 32-year career in philanthropy.

“In hindsight it seems almost unbelievably fortuitous that Crystal came to the Libra Foundation when she did. Her unique skill set, leadership ability, vision, and courage transformed Libra’s giving strategies,” said Libra Foundation Board Co-President Susan Pritzker. “As a result of Crystal’s leadership and vision, she thoughtfully and strategically pushed the progressive edges of philanthropy, making Libra Foundation an example of the best philanthropy can aspire to.”

Hayling led the foundation – and urged the philanthropic sector – toward a new vision of giving that is trust-based, and invests in power-building at the grassroots. When COVID hit, she worked with the Board to double down on grantmaking to meet the moment. When George Floyd was murdered, Crystal spearheaded the creation of the Democracy Frontlines Fund to further the cause of multi-racial democracy, an initiative which has just renewed its commitment.

“It has been my honor to serve the Libra Foundation at the cutting edge of change in philanthropy,” said Hayling. “I am filled with gratitude that I could make a difference for the frontline communities that are doing the hard work of realizing our dreams of justice and equity. I am proud of the terrific team we’ve built at Libra, and confident that they will carry this urgent work forward.”

Hayling was named as Executive Director of the Libra Foundation in September of 2017. Under her leadership, a total of nearly $200 million in grants was awarded, primarily to BIPOC organizations working to build power at the grassroots in three program areas: Community Safety and Justice, Environmental and Climate Justice, and Gender Justice. “The frontline communities Libra supports will continue to guide Libra’s work,” Hayling says. “We have built a strong tradition that honors interdependence, disrupts philanthropic patterns that prioritize productivity over humanity, and supports a new culture that centers justice and liberation.”

In addition to working closely with the Pritzker family at Libra, Hayling has gathered support from other funders to advance shared strategic goals, most notably the $74.5 million Democracy Frontlines Fund. Hayling will continue to serve as a strategic advisor to the Fund after stepping down from the Executive Director role in 2024.

Hayling’s 30-plus years in philanthropy are marked by start-up energy. She was part of the founding teams of The Los Angeles Women’s Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation, The California HealthCare Foundation, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and finally, The Libra Foundation. At the Blue Shield of California Foundation, she spearheaded groundbreaking work to achieve universal health coverage and domestic violence prevention. At The California Wellness Foundation, she launched an initiative to shift youth violence prevention from a criminal justice issue to a public health effort. She helped found and lead the Medi-Cal Policy Institute during her time at the California HealthCare Foundation, providing key policy support for major Medicaid expansion and the launch of Health-e-App, the state’s first online Medi-Cal application. Along with her family, Crystal lived in Singapore for 6 years where she served on the boards of the Lien Center for Social Innovation and Asian Venture Philanthropy Network.

Crystal currently serves on the boards of Community Change, the Essie Justice Group, Democracy Fund and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. She frequently writes and publishes on leading edge topics in philanthropy. In 2010, ABFE awarded her the James Joseph Award and Lecture, Five Things We Know but Keep Forgetting. Recently in Stanford Social Innovation Review, her article “A Vision for the Future of Philanthropy,” also captures wisdom gleaned from her years of experience in the field. Inside Philanthropy named Crystal “2021 Foundation Leader of the Year" and "One of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy" in 2023.

In retirement, Crystal is looking forward to more being and less doing. That will include working in her gardens—physical and spiritual. And more writing. “I have loved this work in philanthropy. Looking back, I feel graced by the extraordinary people I’ve had the honor of partnering with over the years. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter,” she says.

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