Krystal Hardy is a self-described workaholic, a lover of Milwaukee, a mother, a gardener, a writer and so much more. Her current job, which she describes as "a dream job that I never knew I wanted," is as the Manager of Multicultural Marketing for the Milwaukee Brewers.
"My goal is to ensure that we have a diverse fan base at the ballpark and that everyone feels comfortable and welcome when they come to a ballgame or event whether they are a younger fan, LGBTQ+ fan or BIPOC fan—you have a place here," says Hardy.
Enjoy more inspiring and important words from Hardy in the latest segment of this OnMilwaukee-exclusive series.
OnMilwaukee: Where were you born, raised and where did you attend high school, college?
Krystal Hardy: I was born and raised in Milwaukee, in the Harambee/Riverwest area. I attended John Marshall High School and studied undergrad at Marquette University.
What is your current job title and what do you do?
I'm do Manager-Multicultural Marketing for the Milwaukee Brewers. My goal is to ensure that we have a diverse fan base at the ballpark and that everyone feels comfortable and welcome when they come to a ballgame or event whether they are a younger fan, LGBTQ+ fan or BIPOC fan – you have a place here. I plan and execute our Community Nights, which are Pride Night, Negro Leagues Tribute Night and Cerveceros Night, as well as manage our Kids Crew memberships.
In addition to this work, I work with my colleagues to ensure there is inclusivity and diversity in images, language and representation throughout the in-game experience, social media and more.
Cool! How is this work fulfilling for you?
When I started this position in May, I didn’t realize it was going to be a dream job that I never knew I wanted. I am a former student athlete and big sports fan, so the position was intriguing in that it allows me to be close to the world of sports again. I wanted to work in marketing full time, but with a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The position allows the chance to marry various skill sets, like being bilingual in English and Spanish, my experiences in journalism and video production, event planning and networking with highlighting cultures, plan events and work with the greater Milwaukee community—amongst other things.
For our Cerveceros Day game, I brought in two local Latin music bands, Clave y Afinque and Cache en Trio for pre-game performances. Fans loved it. To see a diverse audience vibing to salsa music and Latin jazz or cheer on salsa dance group, Salsabrositas, was amazing. Fans could take photos in front of a Hispanic and Latinx-inspired performance and photo backdrop, designed and built by a Latino-owned event company, Ambrosia Events. That was meaningful work. For fans to approach me and say they never imagined coming to a ball game and hearing music that is a part of their culture or be able to wear their Pride gear without fear of harassment was special.
To receive an email from a family saying their child attended their first baseball game and instantly became a new fan because of the experience they had while at the ballpark – I love that! Or to expose young fans to surviving Negro Leagues players at a game who may have not previously known much about the history of Black people in baseball – it all creates conversation and conversation creates change. That is the type of visibility, representation and impact I want to continue to create, while still bonding through baseball.
How does your work move Milwaukee forward?
Representation and inclusion in spaces creates a more unified Milwaukee whether that’s in the office or the stands. As a woman of color working in sports, I hope to inspire more people of color to enter and thrive in the field. We have a large network of diverse talent here in our city that is completely untapped. I think many people can relate to being overlooked because their resume maybe didn’t list a particular buzz phrase or get through a resume screening tool, despite having extensive experience, myself included. As I plan community nights where I invite community organizations to the ballpark to interact with our fans and talk about their missions or bring in local talent like musicians or dancers to perform, there is an opportunity for all who are at the ballpark to enjoy an experience they may not have had access to exploring before.
How else are you involved in your community?
Being involved in the community is important to me and my spirit. I believe in giving back when and where you can and want to lead by example as I teach my daughter to do the same. I just volunteered at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, serving hot meals with some of my Brewers colleagues and that was such an inspiring experience. There are many organizations, city-wide, that need our help, so I encourage readers to look up volunteer opportunities when they can. Start by reaching out to your HR Departments as a resource. As for boards, I am exploring participation with different boards and plan to be strategic in how I use my time and expertise in a way that would only move our community forward.
Professionally, I’ve joined and was recently appointed co-Vice President of the Milwaukee chapter of The National Society of Black Sports Professionals. I look forward to connecting with other Black folks working in the sports world, finding a mentor and giving back by mentoring others. With the Brewers, I’ve joined a couple of employee resource groups (ERGs) to connect with colleagues as an ally and as a champion for positive change.
Have you ever thought about moving from Milwaukee?
I briefly moved away from Milwaukee to Miami about 12 or so years ago. Creatively, Miami was inspiring and fulfilling. Coming from Milwaukee, which has been identified as a highly segregated city and then moving to Miami was a bit of culture shock. Personally, and professionally, I was able to grow and prove to myself that I could be successful away from Milwaukee but as someone who is big on family there is truly no place like home. I don’t regret coming back here at all – except for when I need to shovel snow, but that’s a different story. I believe that we have something special here that extends beyond the negative reputation we have of being one of the nation’s most segregated cities. We’ve had a re-birth of BIPOC-owned and operated small businesses who are currently flourishing! It’s beautiful to see Black and Brown folks winning in this city, controlling their stories and futures while paying homage to our historic neighborhoods where our communities once thrived with local, small businesses before redlining and other forms of structural racism transformed the city. Our business improvement districts are growing. Our basketball team are reigning national champions. Our baseball team are reigning NL Division champs. Milwaukee is a fast-rising hotspot in tech. We’ve become a top emerging travel city. I’m definitely biased, but Milwaukee is pretty dope.
What is one thing you love about Milwaukee?
I think Milwaukee has great cultural attractions. I’m a lover of the arts and at any given time I have a wealth of options when it comes to theaters, museums, live music, festivals and other activities. I’m excited for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s upcoming season. I’m excited to visit the new home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. When I go to the Milwaukee Public Museum, despite having visited many, many times throughout my life, I’m always in awe like it’s my first time there. I appreciate that I can raise my daughter in a city that is so rich in terms of the arts and see the impact that has on her.
What is one thing you don't love about Milwaukee?
I think Milwaukee could do without much of the gatekeeping that happens here. It’s part of the reason I moved away for a while. I felt creatively stifled and couldn’t get my foot in the door so to speak because there can be a “crabs in a bucket” mentality that grips the city. It has improved tremendously throughout the years, but I think it’s still too prevalent, especially in our creative communities.
Who or what are your inspirations?
My greatest inspiration is legacy. I hope to make a mark here in the city I was born and raised in, for myself and my family. I also want to ensure that I’m doing my part to create a better city and better world for my daughter through work that I’m doing now. I hope to inspire her to do whatever it is she wants to do in the world, free of restrictions and barriers. I keep my ancestors in mind, with the many barriers they had to live, work and fight through so that I can be here thriving now. In addition to being a good role model for my daughter, I hope that I am making my ancestors proud. I have many “Women Crush” inspirations who are here in Milwaukee. JohnRae’ Stowers, who I first met during my time at Marquette University, is a huge inspiration. She is an educator, a small business owner, a family woman and is the epitome of sisterhood. There’s my cousin, Joanna Brooks, who is the owner of many small businesses, most notably, Embody Yoga. Her commitment to the health and wellness of the Black community and carving a space for Black yogis has been groundbreaking here in Milwaukee. There’s Nicole Acosta, who I wholeheartedly admire for always being her most authentic, creative self. She is unapologetically knocking down doors in the artistic community for women of color and I’m frequently in awe of her. I could go on and on about the people who inspire me but they are definitely at the top of my list.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
This is a tough question for a workaholic. When I’m not working, I am in my garden, weather permitting. There is something empowering about growing your own food, being in nature, watching flowers and plants grow as you care for them. It brings me peace and there is a deep, ancestral connection to it for me. With the flowers and herbs I’ve grown, I make wellness and body products, dry and store them for cooking. When I’m not gardening or exploring the city with my daughter, I’ve usually got my head stuck in a book or I’m curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a journal to do some writing.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.