Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Crystal Lett
Longtime children and family health advocate Crystal Lett has worked hard in support of children dealing with mental illness and families fighting for medical care. Using the skills she learned championing children’s issues both locally and in Washington D.C., Crystal co-established The Salon Lab Columbus, a bipartisan organization that serves as an entry point for women interested in politics to help other women find their voice in the political process. If elected to the Ohio Senate, Crystal will fight for all Ohio families as she knows strong families build stronger communities.
Meet the Candidate: Crystal Lett
1.) In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office? Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I am born and raised in Ohio Senate District 16. I was born and raised in Hilliard, Ohio and graduated from Hilliard Davidson High School. I then went on to The Ohio State University where I graduated Cum Laude with a degree in political science. Upon graduating college, I was inspired to work with children dealing with mental illness after becoming an advocate for my brother, David, who was managing a complex array of mental health issues. As such, I became a Case Manager at North Central Mental Health (NCMH) where I worked with children between the ages of 14 and 21 years old who suffered from severe and symptomatic mental illness. In 2011 my first son, Noble Lett, was born. Unfortunately, I lost my brother, David, to suicide just one month before the birth of Noble. Complicating matters further, Noble was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder. It was during this time, I left North Central Mental Health to care for my son.
While caring for Noble, I wanted to continue fighting for people dealing with the tribulations of mental illness. So, I began managing a psychological practice to keep connected to the mental health community and to continue to serve those affected by mental illness. I became an advocate for Save the Children Action Network. In this role, I worked on legislative policy regarding the expansion of preschool programming, affordable childcare and protecting children in conflict zones abroad.
In 2017, when the Trump administration attacked CHIP funding, I partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital as an advocate for both the hospital and Children’s Hospital Association to speak out about the importance of CHIP benefits for families. After hearing my family’s story, Senator Sherrod Brown reached out to continue working with me to get the word out about the upcoming deadline for renewing CHIP benefits. Over the next seven months, Senator Brown and I teamed up for a number of press conferences, Letters to the Editor, radio interviews, and more to encourage the renewal of CHIP benefits.
In an effort to support women in politics, I started The Salon Lab Columbus (TSLC) – a bi-partisan organization that serves as a point of entry for women interested in politics. TSLC provides an opportunity for women to engage local, state, and federal topics of interest in a safe environment, conducive to learning and engagement. TSLC has partnered with The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and The John Glenn School at OSU as avenues for women to further their political engagement.
I’m running for office to be a champion for Ohio families. Together, we can end gerrymandering, extend healthcare access, protect a woman’s right to choose, improve our public education system, end gun violence, and so much more. Lett’s do it!
2.) Many of you cited a family member whose strength was an inspiration to you. Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
One of the most beautiful things about being a woman in the political space is that you’re never at a loss for other strong women who will help guide you as you seek to serve your community. I have found that to be especially true over the past two years. I credit so much of where I am today to two women: Bobbie Celeste and Janine Moon. These women have taught me how to fight hard and be brave, and they have encouraged me to do so as my authentic self – every step of the way. They continue to teach me the value and importance of supporting other women, championing others, and taking care of myself along the way. I am so thankful for their guidance and support, and I encourage every woman to find a mentor (or mentors) that can guide them into being their best selves.
3.) Some of you are teachers, some business people, some professionals, some homemakers, how has your career and life experiences shaped who you are as a person and a leader?
Being out in the community working with people who are fighting for their mental health is humbling and inspiring. I get to walk alongside people in their journey for wellness. I get to provide encouragement, resources, and most importantly, promote dignity, respect, and empathy every single day. It is my goal to take these experiences to the Statehouse and fight for every Ohioan to thrive.
4.)The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for your community in 2028?
With The Salon Lab Columbus, my goal is to bring new women into the political space every year. By 2028, I would like to see The Salon Lab be replicated in every major city in Ohio. If we are truly going to experience 50% (or more) representation, we have to be thoughtful about bench building and bringing new voices to the table. Building a pipeline from our neighborhoods to the Statehouse is something I have enjoyed being a part of and will continue to do for many years to come.
5.) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or state face today?
Legislatively, the most important topic to voters, through my personal conversations in district, is that of quality, affordable healthcare. I relate to voters in the district because my family has experienced some of the most difficult downfalls of our current system: having a sick loved one, navigating the Medicaid system, falling off the benefits cliff, and now navigating the world of private/employer plans – all while trying to manage everyday life and make ends meet. Through my professional life as a mental health case manager, my family’s experience, and my advocacy work, I have been able to identify many of the pitfalls in the current system and will work hard to address them.
Secondly, people want a strong public education system. The district includes Upper Arlington, Dublin, Hilliard, Southwest Schools, and Columbus City Schools. I have met with constituents connected with each of these districts and have learned that parents, teachers, students, and administrators are concerned primarily for three things: eliminating unhelpful and burdensome standardized testing, re-working the way we fund public education to ensure that every child receives a great education, and making sure that our teachers feel supported as they work hard to nurture children in the classroom.
6.) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, or something that we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.
When I’m not working, politicking and wrangling my three children, I love to read, practice yoga, eat delicious food with friends, and travel. Being with my family and friends is my greatest joy. I’m an extrovert, so you’ll often find me surrounded by people, trying to connect them to each other in meaningful ways.