Kendyl Crawley Crawford, GC’18, was selected to represent graduating students as a student speaker at University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS) Commencement Exercises held Saturday, May 12, 2018.

Crawford graduates from UR with a Master of Nonprofit Studies (MNS) degree. Like many SPCS students, Crawford earned her degree while working; in her case, Crawford serves as the director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, an organization that works with faith communities and people of all faiths to ensure healthy communities and environment justice through education and advocacy.

Crawford’s Commencement address to graduating students underscored her dedication to environmental justice. She chose the nonprofit studies degree at SPCS because she is a “nonprofit professional” seeking, in her words, to do “her own little part to help bend that moral arc of the universe towards justice.” She recognized that earning the MNS degree at UR could “help her bend that moral arc of the universe.”

Crawford focused her remarks on the important role nonprofits play in the American experience. Referencing Alexis de Tocqueville’s vision of America, she noted that nonprofits are often overburdened and underfunded as they seek to do what business and the public sector cannot or will not do.

“The under-resourced, overburdened nonprofit sector, always grasping for that American exceptionalism glimpsed by Alexis de Tocqueville,” she noted, “is all too often left to pick up the slack, plugging holes left when business deems something as not profitable and the public sector is unable or unwilling to step in.”

Crawford cited programs like the SPCS nonprofit studies program, which provide training for nonprofit professionals, as contributing to the solution for meeting the needs that nonprofits have, given the high expectations placed upon them.

“Because of this” expectation to pick up the slack, Crawford emphasized, “it is vital that our society have empowered, resilient, and resourceful leaders, especially in this field.”

Crawford closed her remarks with a quote from Harriet Tubman about how dreams and passion can change the world:

“As Harriet Tubman said, ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.’”

She then charged members of the SPCS Class of 2018 to find their passion and rise to their potential.

“I challenge you to find your own passion and to hold tight to it as you live with hope, share your gifts, and rise to your highest potential,” she concluded.

Following her graduation, Crawford will continue her work at the forefront of organizing efforts in Virginia around the issue of climate change as she directs Virginia Interfaith Power & Light — now further empowered by the specialized skills and applied knowledge from her SPCS nonprofit studies degree.

Crawford’s Commencement Address

Video starts at Dean Wilson’s introduction.