Crystal Rhae McCormick is the 2024 Onyx Woman Leadership Awards Woman of the Year

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Crystal Rhae McCormick is the Inaugural Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Advisor to the President of DEI at Duquesne University, her alma mater for all of her academic degrees. She is the first African American woman to serve on the Cabinet at Duquesne University. Some of her duties include: Being responsible for advising the President, Cabinet, and Senior Leaders relating to University DEI strategies to develop and present an array of innovative ideas and program concepts for consideration, selection, and implementation by the President and appropriate University units. She develops and coordinates strategies, programs, and initiatives that enhance the University’s mission and efforts to foster and increase diversity, improve equity, and cultivate inclusion for faculty, staff, and students.

She established and developed the first DEI Certificate Program for faculty and staff at Duquesne University and the Duquesne University Diversity Inclusion Network.

Before this appointment, Crystal was the Director of Diversity Initiatives at the University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) for over 17 years and 20 years at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Crystal is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XVI and was one of The New Pittsburgh Courier’s Women of Influence in 2002 and Women of Excellence in 2011. In 2010, she was named one of “The Amazing 1010 Women You Should Know” by Onyx Woman Magazine. Crystal received the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Staff of Excellence Award for Diversity and Inclusion. In 2019, Crystal was awarded the Iris Marion Young Award for Social Justice by the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

She has also been recognized as one of 20 DEI Professionals in Diversity in Higher Education. In October 2023, she received the highly coveted Sankofa Award from the University of Pittsburgh, her former employer, for her active engagement, educational support, and development of students and the university as a whole during their annual Homecoming Celebration. She was also a nominee for the Athena Award in Pittsburgh. 

In 2023, Crystal started a Pittsburgh chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction. As a part of the national professional organization, the Pittsburgh Steel City chapter has performed an array of services throughout Pittsburgh that focused on teens, women, community beautification, and seniors. 

Crystal is the proud and devoted mother of Madison McKenzie Ware, who is a graduate of Duquesne University and West Virginia University and currently works at the Department of Public Safety, Films, and Media Division for the City of Pittsburgh. 

This event will be held on Mother’s Day Weekend, So we asked our honorees how their mothers impacted their success.

Crystal Rhae McCormick

My mother impacted my success in so many ways. She taught me the family work ethic (go to work early, be loyal, and give each day your best). My mother was a nurse and taught me how to advocate for my health. She taught everyone in the extended family how to ask the right questions, and if you weren’t happy with your healthcare, get a second opinion or go to another health source. On a personal note, my mother taught me and my brothers to always go above and beyond because we will only get half of what others get regardless of what we do because we are African American. She taught us to fight for injustices and for the underdogs, to be kind but not be a pushover. She taught me to speak up and be heard, even if it wasn’t popular. Lastly, she taught me to be strong in my convictions but not stubborn enough to not be able to self-reflect about our vulnerabilities or shortcomings because all humans have them. She taught me to take ownership of my wrongdoings and to apologize, that owning those mistakes garnered respect and dignity. If I could be half of the mother that I had, I would consider it a blessing. All that I am is because of my mother (Dad too, but my mother made me the woman I am today. 

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