Distinguished Service Award
Friday, April 28, 2017
Chrystal Schivell Receives Distinguished Service Award from LWV-NJ
Distinguished Service Award: A League member who has served the League in an extraordinary fashion, having directed an outstanding League project or given selfless service to the League on a continuing basis. Nominations made by local League boards, voted on by the LWVNJ board, with present LWVNJ Board members ineligible.
Click here for the LWV-Princeton Area advertisement placed in the 2017 LWV-NJ State Convention Booklet.
The Leadership Committee of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area nominated Chrystal Schivell to receive a Distinguished Service Award. Below are the comments sent to the LWV-NJ Board:
Chrystal is the epitome of a League person—she is fair and equal to all, creating a nonpartisan political environment that earns the trust of all, especially candidates she is working with on forums or candidate debates. Her active participation in all Voter Service activities has encouraged participation of citizens in their government and we in the Princeton Area have been especially fortunate to have her enthusiasm and guidance.
A longtime active member of the League, Chrystal joined the Wheaton, Illinois League in 1971 and then the Princeton Area League in 1974, after moving with her family to Princeton. Throughout her tenure with the League, Chrystal has held various leadership positions. Chrystal taught special education students at Trenton Central High School for 23 years, while still finding time to participate in League activities and studies. Her dedication and mentorship to her students is demonstrated by many who are still in touch with her decades after she had them as students. She has written a book on her experiences which she hopes to publish soon and continues to advocate for education.
In 1978, Chrystal was instrumental in researching, and writing the League’s publication Student Services in the Princeton Public Schools. As well, she was an observer at the Princeton Board of Education meetings, a position requiring hours of meeting attendance, then synthesizing and reporting on the agenda and action items.
In the 1970s, she co-chaired the Voter Service Committee. She organized forums as well as a one-day meet-the-candidates extravaganza (including election-appropriate entertainment for children), in which residents interacted with candidates for various offices. She prepared candidates' answers for printed Voters' Guides that the League published and sent to every household.
Upon her retirement from teaching in 2004, Chrystal took an even more active role in the League, assuming one of the most visible positions in our organization, as Voter Service Chair.
The Princeton Area League serves the communities of Kendall Park, Kingston, Montgomery, Plainsboro, Princeton, Rocky Hill, South Brunswick, and West Windsor. Our catchment area includes three New Jersey counties (Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset), three state legislative districts (14th, 15th, 16th), and two U.S. Congressional districts (7th and 12th). Consequently, the number of candidates for school board, local, county, and state elections is enormous, requiring a great deal of organization along with tact in dealing with disparate candidates as well as municipal and regional staffs. Chrystal is our voice and manager for all.
Chrystal has served as LWV-Princeton Area Voter Service Chair since 2008, coordinating voter registration, candidate forums, and Voters’ Guides. She established and continued a working rapport with our local newspapers (Princeton Packet, West Windsor and Plainsboro News, Montgomery News, and others), as well as with the local Princeton television station, Princeton Community TV, so that the printed Voters’ Guides and the videos of the candidate forums would be readily accessible to a wide audience. As well, Chrystal made sure that all of the information was also available on our League’s own website. Her outreach includes distributing voter information, and helping to staff information tables, where she engaged young people in civic lessons (even creating historic costumes of “Miss Liberty” and “Uncle Sam” for young children to try on). She kept up with a demanding schedule even while undergoing medical treatment.
Chrystal conducted voter service workshops, encouraged involvement of other League members and wrote detailed guidelines for compiling a Voters’ Guide.
In 2016, she led the effort of the LWV-Princeton Area to successfully implement VOTE411 for Voters’ Guides, with a high response rate from candidates. To raise awareness of VOTE411, she designed a poster and also a business card that was distributed to the public at voter registration and other events.
As a member of the Leadership Committee, a team that shares the officer duties of our local League, Chrystal has often stepped up to any and all work involved in keeping the local League on track. Her contributions include mentoring many volunteers and students, bringing new members into our League, and making valuable contacts in the community to publicize voter service activities and advocacy issues. She has taken an active role in Callathon, organizing annual dinner meetings, recording minutes of business meetings, hosting and taking notes during consensus meetings, writing articles for the newsletter, arranging for facilities use, and as a participant in the Membership and Leadership Development Program.
Chrystal received high praise form the Princeton Packet on October 19, 2015:
“Shining a light on the problems and on the people who aspire to solve them is not an easy task, but it’s one the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area takes on each year.”
We members of the LWV-Princeton Area Leadership Committee highly recommend Chrystal Schivell as this year’s recipient of the LWVNJ Distinguished Service Award.