Scholar Class – 2014
Crys O’Grady was born in southern New Jersey and entered the New Jersey foster care system at the age of 13. Her experience with the child welfare system exposed her to instances in which government agencies can perpetuate racial, sexual, socio-economic, and gender inequality. While she was in foster care, she became dedicated to the pursuit of social justice through public service. Crys struggled to come out as a lesbian in foster homes that placed a heavy emphasis on religion. In 2008, she left New Jersey to start her undergraduate career at Stanford University.
At Stanford, Crys studied Sociology with a focus in poverty and inequality. Despite having an active LGBTQ-Q community on campus, she felt that the issues surrounding the intersection of poverty, race, and the expression of sexual identity were not being explored. As a student, she served as a research assistant for the Lucille Packard Children’s hospital on a study on how child abuse affects brain development. She began to use her personal experience and education to advocate on a national scale for current and former foster youth. In 2011, she was an intern for FosterClub, a national advocacy organization for youth in care, and contributed to working groups and panels that developed LGBTQ-Q awareness materials and trainings for foster parents and social workers. LGBTQ-Q youth are disproportionately affected by child welfare systems and often face unique traumatic experiences in foster and group home placements.
After graduating from Stanford, Crys was the Policy Coordinator for the California Youth Connection (CYC). CYC is an advocacy organization for current and former foster youth focused on incorporating youth input into future legislative and policy reform. As a law student at the University of Washington, she hopes to pursue a career in policy and legal advocacy for LGBTQ-Q youth.