In late February, President Joe Biden nominated the first African American woman to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is the fifth woman to be nominated to the highest court in the land.
In celebration to the history making nomination of Brown Jackson, March is also Women’s History Month. Throughout the month, NJ Urban News will tell the stories of dynamic, outstanding and some superb women of color in New Jersey. We salute and honor some of these incredible women during a month that is ushering in a new era for women—particularly women of color.
Crystal Orr: Leading with Authority
Crystal Orr is large and in charge as the interim CEO and president of the Urban League of Union County. At 31, she is the youngest person to sit at the helm of the respected national organization. Orr tirelessly dedicates her expertise, diversified portfolio, and acclaimed professional background to transforming community outreach efforts. She promotes brand awareness, builds relationships, and implements innovative marketing tactics in a digital space. “I want to continue to advance the Urban League’s mission of aiding African Americans and other underserved people from marginalized communities,” she said. Orr plans to achieve these goals through advocacy, commitment, and an active and visible community presence.
A millennial with technical savvy, global marketing expertise, and industry knowledge, Orr is perched to cultivate interactive programs for the Urban League’s Union County, New Jersey chapter. For example, she incorporated a modernized edge to the organization by being the co-founder and former president of the Urban League of Union County Young Professionals, an extension of the core organization that uplifts and empowers the next generation of trailblazers. A trailblazer indeed, Orr earned an MBA from Rutgers University. She also holds an undergraduate degree in business from the University of Pittsburgh.
Some of the Urban League’s core programs include Reconnections, Housing and Community Development, and Economic Development. Orr said she continues to focus on the needs of Union County residents hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the organization provided emergency provisions for rent, mortgages, and utility payments, so people who lost their jobs could remain in their homes. The amenities were in addition to the federally mandated eviction moratoriums and extended unemployment benefits. “We provided necessities such as toiletries and other basics to individuals impacted by the pandemic,” she says.
Orr said the Reconnections Program–which helps find housing and employment for formerly incarcerated people, was instrumental in relocating ex-offenders released in Union County during the pandemic. Orr said the organization provided basic living necessities and facilitated relocation and housing efforts. The Urban League of Union County has helped over 1,500 former prisoners receive substance abuse counseling and treatment, housing and healthcare, and employment opportunities with ex-offender-friendly companies. “Out of 500 people who entered the program, only 13 have returned to prison or a halfway house,” she said. The program’s recidivism rate has been less than 0.1 percent in the past three years. Orr credits this success to program participants getting reacclimated to society through social services and the Urban Leagues’ vast alumni network.
Lastly, the Urban League’s long tradition of empowering communities and changing lives in New Jersey and beyond will likely remain solid and intact under Orr. “I want my legacy to be that we helped people to be proud of themselves and their culture,” she said. “The Urban League has such a rich history in the Black community… I want people to know that history, be proud of it, and be proud of who they are now… whether that’s through our services, our programs, [or] through our events. They learned something, and they want to continue to strive.”
To learn more about the Urban League and join, visit uloucnj.org or call (908) 351-7200.