As the owner of marketing consulting company The Voice of Your Customer and the arts and entertainment editor of the Cincinnati Herald, Crystal Kendrick has plenty on her plate. But instead of allowing her professional life to divert attention from helping others, she uses it to reach out at every level.

Having gone through the maze of starting her own company in 2005, Kendrick now takes time to dispense that knowledge to others working to grow a business. But that’s not the extent of her service. In 2002, she founded an Xavier University mentoring program that each year helps a student “become young women in this world,” and she’s been known to approach people sitting outside near her home in Walnut Hills and say, “C’mon, let’s go to the theater.”
 
Such grassroots efforts are pay back, Kendrick says, for those who’ve helped her along the way. “Someone did that for me,” she says. “And people are still doing it for me today.” It worked: Her young company already boasts contracts with a host of government and private companies, including the State of Ohio and Hamilton County, for services such as survey research, competitive analysis, and media campaigns.
 
Her own mentors include Jan Michele Kearney, who hired Kendrick for the Herald job. Working in the fine arts, Kendrick says, has allowed her to develop a deeper appreciation for fine arts and outlet to share it with others. Kendrick uses the press passes to take underprivileged people to performances that they might never see otherwise. “I hope to expose them to different talents and experiences than they won’t see with music videos and professional sports,” Kendrick says. Such efforts don’t come through affiliation with formal organizations, although Kendrick has those, too. “My efforts are very personal,” says the 37-year-old. “My relationships are one-on-one.”

That not to say they don’t have major impact. Kendrick’s counsel has been instrumental in helping a small company, EVOM Administration Services, succeed. She first met the company founders when she hired them to do administrative work for her own business. She has been giving them guidance and advice ever since. “Starting a business can be confusing,” Kendrick says. “You can drown yourself in the paperwork.” Kendrick meets regularly with the EVOM owners to discuss their business plan, help complete applications, and participate in networking events. Kearney, who nominated Kendrick for the Athena award, is impressed with Kendrick’s commitment to others as well as her professional drive. “Crystal Kendrick truly believes that when you help others, persons continue to help her,” she wrote. Raised in Philadelphia, Kendrick moved to the Cincinnati area after earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Temple University in 1992. In 1997, she earned an MBA from Northern Kentucky University and spent several years working in customer service and market research for companies including ArvinMeritor and General Cable. She has been a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University and is a charter member of the Queen City Chamber of The Links.

She has garnered multiple awards, including being named a Cincinnati YMCA Black Achiever Nominee in 2007 and one of the Business Courier’s 40 Under 40, and her business was a nominees for the Cincinnati BBB Torch Award. But despite the success, Kendrick never forgets to pay it forward. “I can’t change the world,” she says. “But if I can help one or two people along the way, them I’m doing okay. I feel that it is my responsibility to do that for others.”