Crystal Strait, President
Growing up in a household mixed between life as the daughter of a local union president and daughter of post-World War II Japanese-American has shaped every aspect of Crystal Strait’s progressive values and dedication to the Democratic Party. In fact, before becoming a Democratic Party activist, most of her initial political and organizing experience was non-partisan, ranging from writing letters to Congress for East Timor’s self-determination to acting as a peer-to-peer youth minister for her local Catholic Church. No matter the cause, though, there is one common thread throughout all of Crystal’s personal and professional activism: a dedication to fighting for others.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2000, Crystal moved to Japan to teach English to Japanese middle school students. Upon returning to her hometown of Azusa, California, Crystal moved north to Sacramento for a fellowship with State Superintendent Delaine Eastin. After work, Crystal became active in the Sacramento County Young Democrats; first serving as treasurer and later as president. Crystal worked to get more young Democrats elected to the local party, city council and school boards through volunteer voter contact efforts and fundraising for the candidates.
After working as a local Field Director in the 2002 California Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign, Crystal began pursuing her Master's Degree in Public Policy at the University of Southern California, and became a statewide board member for the California Young Democrats.
In 2003 Crystal began working for Assemblymember Lloyd Levine; first as his Senior Legislative Aide and later as his Communications Director. During her time in the Legislature, Crystal began the process of modernizing California Young Democrats, first as a two-term Vice-President Membership, and later two-terms as President of the California Young Democrats. She revolutionized the organization, transforming an uncoordinated, volunteer effort into a professional and effective organization that valued the grassroots and produced tangible results for the Democratic Party--in 2006 alone the California Young Democrats made over 100,000 knocks and phone calls for Democratic get out the vote efforts.
In 2006, Crystal realized that her “extracurricular” activities of helping get Democrats elected was truly her main passion and she left her job in the State Assembly to work for the California Democratic Party, where she served as the Political Director until 2009. Her focus and vision was instrumental in organizing the California Democratic Party’s 2008 coordinated campaign, which saw President Obama win the largest landslide of any Democrat in California since Lyndon Johnson, and which also produced gains in the Legislature.
On August 8, 2009 Crystal was elected President of the Young Democrats of America, making her the first Californian and first minority ever to hold that office in the 78 year history of the organization.