Educated Woman of the Week- Crystal Young-Otterstrom

BA in Music Theory and minors in Humanities, Marketing, and Economics, Brigham Young University
MM in Musicology and Composition, Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College

About: Crystal is the managing partner and co-founder of Brand.Pink: a cause-oriented marketing, branding, PR, and event production firm since 2010. She is also the Executive Director of the Utah Cultural Alliance. In existence since 1981, the Utah Cultural Alliance boasts over 150 member organizations and individuals and is dedicated to: advocating for arts and culture to government, networking, support for individual artists, and professional development for those working in the cultural sector.

Crystal worked for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera as their Audience Development, Print Media, and Outdoor Marketing Manager from 2004-2010. During that time, Crystal founded Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Vivace, an audience development effort for 20-40 year-old Utah residents and the largest group of its kind west of the Mississippi. Through her business, Crystal still manages USUO’s three affinity groups, all of which she founded. They are: Vivace (ages 20-40), Cadenza (55+), and Utah Sol (Symphony Opera Latinos).

She is the co-founder and board chair of The Salty Cricket Composers Collective. Salty Cricket triumphs the music of Utah composers and provides an El Sistema-certified music education program called GraceNotes to K-12 underserved and at-risk students. Crystal is the Utah chair of LDS Democrats, which has become the largest caucus in the Utah Democratic Party. She is also the vice-chair of LDS Democrats of America and one of the managing editors of MormonPress.com. Crystal serves on the boards or steering committees of Utah Arts & Cultural Coalition (which oversees NowPlayingUtah.com), Alliance for a Better Utah, UTOPIA Early Music, Planned Parenthood of Utah, and the Board of the North American Association of Young Professionals. Crystal is a composer and coloratura soprano.

How do you de-stress?
Gardening, Yoga, Star Trek, and my children and basset hounds. Of course though, nothing de-stresses me more than having a really productive day and killing my to-do list!

How did you know your path or decide your current path?
Well I always knew I had a lot of interests and I always had a hard time settling on what I “wanted to do forever.” Of course, the great lesson of adulting was that I could do it all and be a master of “ands”! Throughout my college career I was dually interested in arts administration and being a composition professor. I received excellent career advice from Ken Crossley at BYU (who now sits on my UCA board btw!). He suggested that if I wanted to get a composition Ph.D they would require the MM and if I wanted to pursue arts administration career, they appreciate the advanced degree in the art form and just want to know that you have the skills. So I added the marketing minor (I already had econ because it’s been a passion since the 10th grade). After grad school I did an internship at the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, they quickly offered me a job, and the rest is history!

How have your career passions changed over the course of your career, and how have you managed transitions?
I’m interested in this question because I feel like I’m always constantly shifting and changing. That’s especially the case when you’re self employed and are the primary decision maker for a nonprofit. I have a lot of flexibility in where I want to go and where I want to take it. I never planned on doing event planning, but I really enjoy it and it’s fairly lucrative for me. Whenever I’m asked for advice I always reiterate the somewhat corny adage that, “the only constant is change.” I’m constantly changing and shifting directions. What I enjoyed 6 years ago when I became ED of UCA and started my business is different now. And I’m now in the midst of growing UCA to a much larger nonprofit and full time organization. It’s very exciting.

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