Team Member Spotlight: Krystal Payne

We would not be able to fulfill our mission without our staff, a group of professionals who intentionally work across difference, are experts in their field, and care deeply about young people and their postsecondary journeys.

Each month, we’ll highlight a member of our team by “passing the mic” to hear directly from them about their work and purpose. This month, we are highlighting our Executive Director, Krystal Payne.

What do you do at the Network for College Success?

NCS exists to support committed district, school, and team leaders in transforming experiences and outcomes for young people, especially our Black and Brown young people. As Executive Director, my primary responsibility is keeping this central in our work. Doing so calls me to serve as a mirror, light, and lens as I lead our wonderfully gifted, multifaceted, and witty team in living this mission out loud.


What about the culture of NCS empowers you to show up the way you do?

We have an equity stance and norms that sustain a space where I can be and evolve while also contributing to our collective identity, voice, and presence. That makes NCS unique from my past professional experiences. And at NCS, yes, I am the Executive Director. I am also the wife, the minister, the bonus mom, the one who makes a song out of just about anything, and the one most likely to search for my eyeglasses while wearing them. All of this is me, and all of me is welcome.


What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I am blessed with the opportunity to use the gifts I have toward improving experiences and outcomes for young people I may never meet face-to-face. Sitting with the awesomeness of that is both humbling and rewarding.


Can you share a memorable moment or achievement during your time with NCS?

I am filled with joy when I witness an NCS team member, partner school leader, or district leader stand in their excellence and their “why,” especially when doing that takes them out of their comfort zone. I have seen this courage manifest several times during my time with NCS, and it never gets old.


Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies or interests that you enjoy pursuing?

I enjoy ministering and traveling with my husband Nelson. I also like to make jewelry while watching movies and cooking competitions. Lately, I have also been playing Nonograms more than I want to admit…but they’re so much fun.
Want to meet other remarkable staff at NCS? Visit our staff directory page here.