Crystal R. Emery is known for producing narratives aimed at creating a more equitable society. She is the Founder and CEO of URU The Right to Be, Inc., a nonprofit content production company that addresses issues at the intersection of humanities, arts and sciences. A director, author and STEM advocate, Emery is a member of the Producers Guild of America and New York Women in Film and Television, and an American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador.
Hailed as “inspiring” by the Los Angeles Times and as a “leader in science and technology” by Good Housekeeping in its feature story “50 over 50: Women Who Are Changing the World,” Emery has a body of work that spans a broad range of topics, from diversity, inclusion and equity to children’s literature, sociopolitical issues and STEM.
The author of Against All Odds: Black Women in Medicine, Master Builders of the Modern World: Reimagining the Face of STEM and the first two volumes of her Little Man children’s book series, Emery has written for TIME.com, Variety, Ms.Magazine.com and HuffPost. In the National Academy of Medicine published an article she wrote on STEM recruitment.
Emery has presented, moderated, and produced numerous panels and events, including a symposium on Black Creatives for Google Brand Studio and “Race and Ableism: The Unspoken Intersectionality of Diversity in Film” for the SlamDance Film Festival. She has been a keynote speaker at distinguished institutions including the National Academy of Science, National Institute of Health, the National Organization on Disability, RespectAbility, TEDx Beacon Street, the National Security Agency, and Kaiser Permanente.
Emery is the recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Leadership in Journalism Award, the BronzeLens Film Festival Spirit Award.
Emery’s film Black Women in Medicine had its theatrical run in 2016 and later aired on public television. It was screened in Ethiopia and Germany in 2018 as part of the American Film Showcase, considered the premier American film diplomacy program in the world.
In 2015, Emery launched Changing the Face of STEM, an innovative national educational and workforce development initiative. Two years later, in conjunction with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, she introduced Changing the Face of STEM at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C. URU returning in 2019 to unveil the “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See” Virtual Reality Project, aimed at closing the identification gap for young marginalized students in STEM. In 2019, Crystal lead URU to become a programmatic partner of 100Kin10, an organization formed in response to President Obama’s call during his 2011 State of the Union address to train 100,000 new STEM teachers in a decade.
Emery believes that perseverance, faith and trusting in a power greater than oneself comprise the road to success. She continues to shape a successful, fulfilling personal and professional life while triumphing over two chronic diseases as a quadriplegic. Recently, Crystal began production on “The Intersection of Crystal R. Emery,” a podcast exploring her life as a Black woman, filmmaker, writer and member of the disability community.
A New Haven area resident, Emery received her B.A. from the University of Connecticut, her M.A. in Media Studies from The New School of Public Engagement, and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from UConn in 2018, on which occasion she spoke to an audience of over 20,000becoming the first Black female commencement speaker at UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“I have chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.”
– Sidney Poitier
“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
— Audre Lorde, author/activist
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”