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making an impact

Christal Watson: Speaking Loud For All To Hear – Joel Goldberg Media

Purpose / March 28, 2024

Making an impact rarely comes easily. Every now and then the stars align and you get lucky. But for the most part, it takes a lot of hard work.

My own journey to the big leagues, so to speak, certainly wasn’t all glamour. In my early days as a reporter, I worked in small markets for even smaller paychecks, covering every sport from snow shoe baseball to tick racing on a pool table.

Looking back, I can’t help but smile at the experiences. The truth is, though, that every one of them was another opportunity to show up and put in the work. By doing the job right, I earned my way to my dream job. What many don’t realize is that as a professional sports broadcaster, making an impact is as much a part of what I do as the pre- and post-game show.

I reference some of these stories in my corporate keynotes. Yes, they tend to get laughs from the audience. But more importantly is that the lessons these stories hold apply as much in sports as they do in business.

This month on my podcast Rounding the Bases, we celebrated Women’s History Month by welcoming all female guests. Each of them is doing incredible work in her respective field. For one of them, making an impact begins with using her voice for those without one.

She’s someone who tells it like it is with a smile on her face. Not only getting things done, but inspiring excellence in every child, every day.

Her name is Christal Watson, Executive Director of the Kansas City Kansas School Foundation for ExcellenceIt’s a non-profit that directs funding to education. 

As a civic trailblazer, her far-reaching initiatives are making a difference in countless lives. But the turnaround of a struggling school district may be her most impressive one to date, earning her to honors…and rewriting history books for the better.

SINGLE: A Daunting Task 

Christal has oversight of the Kansas City Kansas School District, which is the 5th largest in the state. It is responsible for educating more than 22,000 students who speak more than 65 languages in total.

If those facts aren’t intimidating enough, most of the children in her district come from disadvantaged families. “More than 85% of our students are on free and reduced lunch program,” she shared, highlighting the need for so much more than an education.

Lucky for them, Christal Watson isn’t just an optimist who refuses to take no for an answer. She’s a champion for every student in her district.

“My role is to shift where we, where can we make the greatest impact,” she said. “We are currently in the process of taking old school buildings and turning them into housing for these families.”

It’s a groundbreaking idea. Radical, even. And when it comes to actualization, will be an important first step to making an impact that extends beyond the schoolyard.

DOUBLE: Making an Impact for Generations

In today’s highly politicized environment, it can be hard to get even the most basic things done. Yet somehow, Christal managed to earn support for her pioneering housing initiative. What was her secret to gaining so much momentum so quickly?

“You do it one step at a time,” she shared, “and that’s how you begin to approach this huge daunting task of meeting the needs of these beautiful children that we serve.”

She knew that to achieve the results she hoped for, she first needed to identify the root cause of the issue. Christal learned that for many, they began at home. Students in her district were facing food insecurity, housing insecurity, single-parent homes, abuse and so much more. Their family structures were deteriorating, and bringing everything else down with it.

These were challenges that called for innovative solutions. By delivering programming that benefits families as much as they do children, Christal has started breaking generational cycles, making an impact that lasts.

“Yes, we give scholarships. And, you know, we support projects in the classroom,” Christal shared. “But attacking the big daunting task of, I don’t want that child coming to school worried about mom or dad, or where they sleep or what they ate. I want them coming to school ready to learn.”

TRIPLE: Going Right

There’s a saying that when things aren’t going right, go left. When making an impact demanded big moves to get big results, Christal didn’t change directions…she just changed who she was bringing along for the ride.

When Christal stepped into her role as Executive Director, she knew that in order to achieve results unlike anything they had seen before, she needed to do things that had never been done before. Before making those bold strokes a possibility, she needed to ensure alignment between her vision and her people.

“It really is all about having the right team, the right players at the table,” she shared. “You have to have like-minded people … who are willing to trust leadership and are willing to make that contribution, whatever that may be.”

The Kansas City Kansas School Foundation for Excellence has different needs than other foundations. This meant it couldn’t settle to function like other foundations. It prompted Christal to question the intentions of her board and make changes where needed. But in doing so, she was also able to assemble just the board she needed to start moving the needle.

“If we’ve got this challenge of making the greatest impact, then you got to be on board and be willing to do big things,” she explained of the decision. “Things we’ve never done before, but we’re willing to go to uncharted territory to make it happen.”

HOME RUN: Illustrating the Cause 

It takes courage to inspire big change. One of the things I admire most about Christal’s work is that she envisions things the way they could be, then acts to inspire the same hope in others. And she does it by telling a story that quite literally illustrates everything she aims to accomplish.

“I was working in the schools. And so one of the projects we work with the kids on was to draw us what it looks like on your way to school. And then draw what you think your future is,” she shared.

Most kids drew what they wanted to be when they grew up. But one image that stands out was a house drawn by a little girl. Christal described it as having scalloped windows with a big, fenced yard. It was a beautiful image with carefully added details all around. The only problem was that the lines were so faint, they could barely be seen.

She offered the child some crayons, markers and colored pencils that could be used to bring the drawing to life. But all of them were refused. “I did this on purpose,” the girl said, “Because I don’t really see it happening.”

Christal left in tears that day, more committed than ever to making an impact that’s bigger than herself, or even a foundation. She’s giving hopes to dreams, helping students – and their families – get one step closer to the futures they deserve.

Listen to the full interview here or tune in to Rounding the Bases every Tuesday, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Learn More About Making an Impact from Joel 

Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.

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Full Transcript:

Joel Goldberg 0:18
Hello, everybody. Welcome into another episode of Rounding the Bases presented by Community America Credit Union: Investing in You. I’m Joel Goldberg. I feel like a broken record. When have I not started a podcast and said, I’m really excited about my guest today? That’s because I have the best guests. And, you know, we’re always looking, I’ll say it’s becoming a lot harder. We’re booked months out now, which is amazing. There were, there were early stages of this podcast where it was like, I know there are a million people out there, but we need to find them. And now it’s just overflowing. And one of the many many amazing things about my connection with Community America. I don’t, I don’t I don’t rant and rave about them here on this podcast. They don’t ask me to. I’ve mentioned before, not only am I grateful for the partnership with them with this podcast, but the opportunity to do some speaking and commercials on their behalf. It’s just a it’s a beautiful arrangement with with a credit union that I also do business with in terms of personally, professionally and so I’m so proud to be a member. But one of the sort of benefits to this is that I’ve told them over and over again, hey, if you have a great guest, let me know. And today’s guest came from Community America. So I’m going to tell you about her in a quick quick moment. First, a shout out to my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City. If you’re looking for a job, looking to be placed, looking for a resource, looking for a little bit of help. Another group that I’m really proud to partner with right here in Kansas City, although you don’t have to be in Kansas City. So check them out chiefofstaffkc.com. Making connections that matter. So one of my new connections via Community America is today’s guest who is on a mission to be a voice for those without one. She uses hers to tell it like it is with a smile on her face. Not only getting things done, but inspiring excellence in every child every day. Her name is Christal Watson, Executive Director of the Kansas City, Kansas School Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit that directs funding to educational initiatives. As a civic trailblazer her far reaching initiatives have impacted countless lives, many more to come. But the turnaround of a struggling school district may be her most impressive one to date, earning top honors, and rewriting history for the better. I love a guest that can talk about kids, can talk about education, can talk about community. And so I’m happy right now to welcome in to Rounding the Bases, Christal Watson. Christal, how are you?

Christal Watson 2:50
I am fantastic, Joel. Thank you so much for having me.

Joel Goldberg 2:55
It’s great to have you. And you know, just hearing about you. I really was grateful when Whitney Bartali said I have a really good guest for you. I said Yeah, bring it on. And then learning a little bit more about your background. And the impact that you, not just you, but that you’re inspiring, will change lives for generations, I really believe. So let’s start with your role, how you got into it and what you’re doing?

Christal Watson 3:20
Sure. So my role is executive director of the Kansas City Kansas School Foundation for Excellence. Oddly enough, I was in this role back in 2006. I started I was the very first staff person that the district ever hired. And my job was, oddly enough to get rid of the board. The board was made up of school district officials, the superintendent and for an educational foundation that was like a big no, no. So at that time, Carol Mackey, who was the Public Information Officer, I was at United Way at the time, and asked me if I would consider being the first staff person to have on the foundation and that’s how I initially got started. And so while I was there, I did about a couple years, left, got a big job with the Truman Medical Center. But then I became a board member. I was an elected official for KCKPS, I served from 2011 to 2014. And so then fast forward here to 2019 there had not been an ED in this role for six years. The president of the board at that time I brought in years ago to be on the board is now president of the board and asked me to return. At that time I was with I was in the mayor’s office. I was Deputy Chief of Staff for former Mayor David Alvey for KCK. And I’m like what are you talking about come here? I’m in the mayor’s office. Why would I leave? But it was a great opportunity. I felt like I could do more. There’s only so much you can do in the mayor’s office. So that’s how I ended up back here at the, at the foundation. So what we primarily do is we support the students and staff here at KCK, yes. And that is a daunting task, because more than 85% of our kids are on the free and reduced lunch program, we have about 22,000 students. And so with that many needs, we’ve kind of narrowed our focus, and we’re now, we’re focusing on families so that we can, excuse me help eliminate barriers, so that kids can grow and prosper in the classroom.

Joel Goldberg 5:37
So I, you said something there, you said, daunting task. I mean, nothing in life comes easy, you know, I mean, nothing good comes easy. Every now and then you get a little bit lucky, and the stars align, but really, you know, for the for the most part, it takes a lot of hard work. But, but then when I look at a struggling school district, and these kids and you know, you’re talking about changing, you’re changing, you’re changing a cycle, you’re stopping a cycle, you’re saying that, you know, we want this kid to break that cycle, and pass it on to his family. This is generational. So how do you go? I mean, you said it’s about the families, which I think is a great place to start. But how do you break those cycles? How do you approach what you called a daunting task?

Christal Watson 6:31
Well, you do it one step at a time. It’s like this big ol elephant, you cannot eat the whole elephant at once. And so you look at it in terms of where can you have the greatest impact, right. And what of that is the lowest hanging fruit. And that’s how you begin to approach this huge daunting task of meeting the needs of kids, meeting the needs of our faculty and meeting the needs of the families of these beautiful children that we serve. So within all this, the task really has been finding out what the needs of the families are, because kids come to school with baggage. And if they’re coming to school, worried about eating, if they come to school, worried about what they ate, you know, where they live, they’re coming to school, worried about their parents period, right? Or their living conditions, they’re going to bring that to school. And I’m and I, it just dawned on me that, you know, the family structure is so important in our society. And when the family structure breaks, so does everything else around it. And how we grow up and how we live, our lives are all predicated on how what was the family structure? Like, how are we raised? You know, did we come from a two parent home? Do we come from a single family home? Were we abused? Were, you know, there’s so many things that, mold and make and shape us into who we are today. So if we can’t help kids at a very pivotal time in their lives, then they’re carrying that baggage into their adulthood. So, yes, we give scholarships, and you know, we support projects in the classroom. But attacking that big daunting task of, I don’t want that child coming to school worried about mom and dad, or where they sleep or what they ate, I want them to come to school ready to learn. And so we’re looking at programming that helps the family.

Joel Goldberg 8:38
It’s so interesting, because, you know, it’s very easy. On the outside, if you have everything, by the way, none of us have everything. I mean, it’s all a matter of perspective, right? I mean, it’s the whole look, you can give me any community in America, city, suburb, rural wealth, poor, that isn’t dealing with some type of issue with drugs or mental health or all of that. But the odds are, the odds are just better for someone that has resources, the – we know all this. The odds are better. Look, we could sit there and say, well, it’s better to have a two parent household. Well, not everybody does, right. You know, that’s not realistic. We can sit there and say that they need a loving, you know, a safe home. Well, that’s not always realistic, if they’re going home to a family with abuse or a family that’s having a hard time turning the water or the lights on how do you study when you’ve got those kinds of distractions and you’re a kid at home trying to also be a parent at the same time, right? You know those stories better than than I do with with the kids that some of the kids that you’re working with? So when he talks about the low hanging fruit, what is that? And how do you get there? I mean, do you do you have to get mom or dad or mom and dad or guardian on board? I How are you providing that safe space? And how are you going after that low fruit so to speak?

Christal Watson 10:05
So we currently have, there’s a federal program. It’s an excellent question Joel, called McKinney Vento. It’s a federal program and the US Department of Education McKinney Vento says if a child doesn’t have permanent residency for more than two years, they’re considered homeless. Well, just so happened, the McKinney Vento coordinator was just in my office yesterday, they we have over 360 families within the district that fall under McKinney Vento. So one of the when I first came back in the role and 2019, it was a 400. And that was right before COVID. And so that we’re back up to 360, here three years later. And one of the things the lowest hanging fruit we could do is pay for families who transition from one location to another because remember, they’re you know, going to and fro, they don’t have permanent residency, you know, so we pay for families to stay in a hotel. That’s low hanging fruit. That’s impactful, right. And it meets an, a significant need immediately. That we have control of. Now we can’t control where they stay, but we can control where they can be until they get to their next place of residency. So that’s one of the things we address with low hanging fruit. That’s easy to do. Now, do I like it? No. Because for me, it’s putting a bandaid, right? It doesn’t really solve the problem. But until we can solve that problem, you know, it’s low hanging fruit we can get to it and easy to do and put money towards it. And families have a place to stay.

Joel Goldberg 11:53
So I would imagine that the the problem I mean, among many is better education, right? Everything in the classroom, but if the bleeding if they’re bleeding, then you got to put a bandaid on it to get to the classroom, right? You can’t, you can’t teach you can’t you can change all your curriculum, you can have better teacher you get whatever it is, I don’t know, I’m sure the list is never ending. Because last I checked, there’s not a lot of money being handed out to education, even with all the help that that you can get, right? I mean, it’s it’s a daunting task you talked about it doesn’t stop. But until you can stop that bleeding, you can’t get to where you need to get to.

Christal Watson 12:30
That is correct. And but it’s still important right to do now. So in order to help solve this problem, we are currently in the process of looking at taking old school buildings and turning them into housing for these families. All right. And thankfully, I have a very progressive board that is on board with that idea. Because again, remember, you know, my role is to shift where we, where can we make the greatest impact? Well, I know there’s not enough money in the world to meet the needs of 85% of, you know, our student population, we got 22,000 students. So there’s not enough money in the world to fix all their problems. But what we can do is all right, we got old school buildings, let’s turn them into housing. Right, and let’s get some community partners at the table to make this happen. And so that’s one of the things that we’re working on currently, that we don’t think any school district in the region, I’m not gonna say national, because you never know. But in the region, who was addressing school aged children in school, public schools, families just felt in that community, just public school families, getting them housing, and then hopefully changing policy around how McKinney Vento funds, those kinds of projects. It is currently the No.

Joel Goldberg 14:01
So I want to dig in on a couple things here Christal. One is that, you know, this is this is groundbreaking stuff at a time. And you talked about having a progressive board at a time when a lot of boards and a lot of districts are really dealing with more politics. Then, you know, I mean, I can go off on this. It’s it’s disgusting, what’s going on.

Christal Watson 14:30

Joel Goldberg 14:31
Especially when we’re essentially lever- in my opinion. We’re we’re leveraging kids to try to make a political point or something that the kids are getting caught in the middle of without focusing on say that education. People want to push back I mean, that’s that’s fine, but there’s culture wars going on right now. That are sacrificing the kids well-being in my opinion, and you kids sit there and say, I don’t believe this book should be your first stop. I don’t even mean to go down this rabbit hole. But, you know, like the book banning and all that kind of stuff. I can’t even believe that that’s happening in this generation. That was something that happened generations ago. And it’s coming back. But my greater point is this. So you know, where I feel on that is that the kids are the ones that are being sacrificed. The kids are the ones that are losing out because of political spats and on and on and on. But you mentioned having a progressive board and being able to do this, I’m curious what that dynamic has been, like, at a time were, quite honestly, not just schools that everything is so political post COVID, that it’s hard to get things done. A lot of people are stuck in the mud. And it sounds like you’re not.

Christal Watson 15:47
Right. It and we’re not and it really is all about having the right team, having the right players at the table. And so what does that mean? That means that you have to have like minded people, right, who are willing to take some risks. I’m a big risk taker, and who are willing to trust leadership, and are willing to make that contribution, whatever that may be. So that we achieve our number one goal, which is where’s the greatest impact? Where can we make the greatest impact? And what kind of legacy can we leave? You know, and that’s what it’s really about for the foundation. You know, I just don’t want us to be doing things just because. And when I came back into this role as executive director, I’ve found out something really important that I can’t, we can’t function like every other educational foundation can. Because our needs are different. And so when you talk about swinging and missing that that was my biggest swing and miss is that I gotta function like the rest of them. Well, you can’t, right. And so that meant I had to reevaluate who’s on the board. Why are they here? You know, are they in line with where I think the direction we need to take it? And all right, if we’ve got this challenge of great making the greatest impact, then you got to be on board and being willing to do big things, things we’ve never done before, but we’re willing to go the uncharted territory to make it happen.

Joel Goldberg 17:23
Once those results start coming in, too who’s going to push back against it? Somebody will I know, but you know, your results.

Christal Watson 17:29
Who’s going to push back if the whol key is that I’ve providing housing for them?

Joel Goldberg 17:33
They shouldn’t. Not if you’re not if you have a soul.

Christal Watson 17:38
Right, right. You got I mean, you’d have to be soulless, you know, but I’ve pitched this to several organizations and other nonprofits and business leaders, and everybody’s on board. So really, it’s just a matter of knowing what the next steps are, and getting the funding to do it.

Joel Goldberg 17:59
What’s the, what’s the elevator pitch when you make it to those companies that are willing to invest?

Christal Watson 18:05
You now Okay, so.

Joel Goldberg 18:09
Here you go. The floor is yours.

Christal Watson 18:10
So the elevator pitch is, I give them a story. And this is the story. I was working in the schools when I was at United Way. It was an anti bullying program. And so we were contracted to go in the schools and work with kids. And it was the in-school suspension. And so one of the projects we work with the kids on was draw for us what it looks like, on your way to school, and then draw what you think your future is. And so some kids Drew, um, you know what they wanted to be when they grew up. One little girl drew a house. And Joel, I couldn’t see the house. It was beautiful house, it was in pencil. And it was so light, I could barely see it. But I if I really looked at it, I could see scallop windows and big beautiful sun and a fence around the house and flowers in the yard and detail on the windows. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, this is such a beautiful picture. But sweetie, look, I’ve got some crayons, I got some markers here. Here’s even some colored pencils, so we could see it. And she said, No, I don’t want that. And I said why don’t you want that? She said well I did this on purpose. And I said why? Because I don’t really see it happening. And oh my God, I walked out of that place out of that school in tears. And I said God how I know we can’t say them wrong, but goodness gracious. How do we make that dream a reality, because she sees it in her future, but it’s so faint. She’s not sure it can happen.

Joel Goldberg 20:08
See, and that’s everything you’re doing right there. There. There’s, it may not be fully clear to everyone, but there’s there’s a light, there’s, it may be in the distance, it may be faint. But this is all doable Christal. And when you, you know, I said said in the intro with a smile on your face, you’re clearly an optimist, you you, you know, you’re not going to take no for an answer. You’re gonna keep finding away and you’re being so innovative. And, you know, I was looking at at the reports that I saw, you mentioned the 20,000 students, fifth largest school district, I believe in the state of Kansas. And suddenly, the awards start coming in. Number one US News, best Kansas High School 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, National ESCA Distinguished School awards. You guys had the Teacher of the Year, Whitney Morgan in 2019. What is that doing for the energy in those buildings? What is that doing in the communities? Can you feel a different energy a different positivity compared to maybe where things were before?

Christal Watson 21:15
Yeah, it continues to give us hope. And what it says is that people are invested. Right. And they’re doing the right things for the right reasons. Which is why we can toot that horn right on those accomplishments that we’ve made. At the end of the day, though, it’s got to trickle down to change in lives. And so in order to do that, then we’ve got to be innovative. We’ve got to think outside the box, because we can’t be like every other districts. You know, we can’t be like every other educational foundation and do the same old funding for the same outcomes. No, our outcomes have to really change lives, so that our kids can continue to have hope. So that young lady gets a job and buys her own house. Right? And can color that home, the way she wants. That that’s what it at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. We’ve the energy is we still have hope, no matter how hard it is, no matter how daunting it is, we still have hope. And we’ve got to keep hope alive every day for the sake of ourselves. Because the faculty health and wellness is just as important as it is for the student as it is for their families.

Joel Goldberg 22:42
All of us with you about mentorship, but I was reading that you’re usually mentoring one to three different other young women at a time. March is Women’s History Month, and you’re making a massive impact I’m lucky enough on on this podcast to be able to interview a lot of women men, right, across the board, extremely influential and able to give back and it’s you know, it’s one of the, to me one of the most fulfilling things to be able to do. Tell me about that and the importance of passing on what you know, to others.

Christal Watson 23:17
Well, I just truly believe that, um, you know, as a person of faith, we were all created to be a help to one another. And part of our purpose is always to be linked to people. You know, at the end of the day, what we do, ends up impacting the people around us, right? People we work with, live with, play with. And so for me, it is so important that young women are encouraged, even, I mean, you know, some of my mentors have been older than me, but some of my, my people that have mentored me have been younger than me. You know, they’ve inspired me. So for me, mentors have no age, right? It doesn’t matter. It’s really about what what we need, what I need, what they need at the time. I participate with the KC Business Journal, the Mentoring Monday, from women, I’ve been doing it for the past three to four years. And I always take four women with me. And I ended up being a mentor at that event, mentoring other women. So it’s just easy and natural for me to do is I just feel like as I go up, I should be bringing somebody else along, right? Because it’s not always about us. At the end of the day. It never is about us.

Joel Goldberg 24:42
No, but we have a platform and so if we make it about us in a way of helping others that’s that’s such a powerful thing. And like I asked this question to a lot of my guests that are doing your magnitude of type of things in whatever their their field is. Basically meaning change, impacting lives, making a better future making better community there. The question is, what does it feel like when you see it click, maybe it’s someone that that is on the other side now or is on their way to the other side? The light bulb goes off there. Yeah, it should, it could happen to a 12 year old. But what about that kid that made it to college or is in the workforce now? What that does for you?

Christal Watson 25:34
Oh my gosh, it’s the greatest compliment you could ever get. And I liken it to somebody asked me what my greatest accomplishment was, and I said, my son’s – I have four sons. And, and they, and then I thought, That’s so hokey. Everybody’s gonna say their kids are great as accomplishment. Is that good? So I had to think deeper about it, and say, you know, what, let me tell you why I say my kids, when I can go to a game, all my son’s played athletes, and when I can go to a game, and someone comes up to me and says, you raise a good person, not like just my son or anything like that. But he’s a good person, he helped my daughter do this, or he helped my son, that is the greatest compliment. So I liken it to that. Because when someone can refer to me as a mentor, I feel like that’s, that’s the greatest compliment. Because we don’t always trust people, you know, let alone want to admit that somebody else helped them along the way. Right? So it’s the most gratifying thing. I think I live for that to just be a help to people, particularly women, to encourage them. Because it’s not always an easy road for African American women or a woman of color. Right. And so we’ve come a long way. And so we have to make sure that we share our experiences and help no matter who they are. Help them along the way as well. So it feels wonderful, Joel.

Joel Goldberg 27:18
Yes. Fireworks, fireworks, and a band playing and, and it’s all worth celebrating. It’s an inspiration. And you and so many others deserve to be applauded for it. So let me get to my baseball theme questions. And the first one, what’s the biggest home run you’ve hit? You can’t say your four sons, by the way. I learned when I started asking these baseball themed questions that I always had to say, professionally speaking, because everybody I had on said, well marrying my wife, marrying my husband. I’m like, Yep, great. Congratulations. I’m not trying to minimize that. But that’s not helping the show. So

Christal Watson 27:57
My biggest home, my biggest home run in my career, which was life changing for me was I worked I was the President/CEO of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce. Its legal name is KBCC, which can stand still for Kansas Black Chamber of Commerce, lost credibility. When I took over, we literally burnt to ashes, loss membership. And so I had to rebuild that organization. Didn’t know how I’d never run a chamber. Today, that chamber is a Regional Chamber. They’re doing business as Heartland Black Chamber. And we also I helped start two other chambers, one in St. Louis, and one in Wichita, with the same name as Heartland. And so that is my biggest home run, life changing career.

Joel Goldberg 28:51
It’s amazing. And many more home runs coming. They’re all happening day by day. For a swing and miss you, you talked about briefly so I don’t know if you want to go back to that or something else. But you talked about trying to function like the rest of, you couldn’t function like the rest. I’m, I’m curious about it. Swing and a miss.

Christal Watson 29:09
Yeah, um, that was definitely a swing and miss. I’ve had several. But I think the biggest swing and miss for me was in trying to reestablish the chamber, for example. I missed at not focusing on the infrastructure. I thought, you know, I can build relationships and get people to give money and you know, and we’ll be well on our way. Not. Big mess. Strike out. I did not focus on the infrastructure at all thinking it would just come by osmosis. I don’t even know what I thought. But what I learned from that, is that you got to have a solid infrastructure, right? You got to have the right team in place. I didn’t. I thought, Oh, it doesn’t matter. You know, people come in. Do you have to really be intentional about what you need in your organization? What you need for your own personal career, because that could have really taken a huge turn for the worse. You know, and I wouldn’t be where I am today. So that was the biggest swing and miss I tell you, and it prepared me for here because there was no infrastructure here and I knew that’s the first thing you got to do before I do anything else.

Joel Goldberg 30:26
See, so you benefited as did everybody else, from that swing and a miss. How about Small Ball. It’s got, it’s got everything you’re doing every day has to be small ball because none of this happens overnight. What are the little things that add up to big results for you Christal?

Christal Watson 30:40
Number one smiling. You’d be surprised how many unhappy people there are in the world. Number two would be being kind, smiling and being kind garner great results no matter what the situation is.

Joel Goldberg 30:58
I love that. I mean, put that one on a bumper sticker or something, you know?

Christal Watson 31:06
It adds longevity to your life too. Tell me, trust me.

Joel Goldberg 31:10
And it’s also a slogan that that will always have longevity itself because that’ll be true. Till the End of Time words. Wise words from Christal Watson I’ve got four final questions as we wrap it up. As we Round the Bases. The first one is this and not everybody else see this and unless they see a video clip with my social media stuff, but over my left shoulder I see Satchel Page. I see a number 22 Buck O’Neil pennant over my right shoulder I got a Monarchs pennant. A lot of bobble heads including Bucks standing on a stoop if I hit that button there. But, we should just do this. I’m gonna take Buck down let’s see if I mean. I haven’t tested the battery for a while but it’s it’s the singing Buck O’Neil,

Christal Watson 31:54

Joel Goldberg 31:56
With um, I’ll put it back up on the wall he’s still sitting back there he’s saying and take me out to the ballgame, and I bring this up because you are a Buck O’Neil Legacy Award Winner. You sat behind home plate Your were honorred. I have to do this. Okay, she’s running back now she’s she’s got the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat framed certificate in her office right now. For those that don’t know the Kansas City Royals, honor for all 81 home games someone making an impact in the community sitting in Buck O’Neil, the legendary late Buck O’Neil’s seat where he used to scout it’s the one red seat there. And so it’s the coolest thing because we get a chance to highlight someone that’s doing amazing things in his name with his spirit. What did that honor and opportunity, let alone great, great, great seats too.

Christal Watson 32:52
The best seats behind home plate. You know, I didn’t even know that they had this award. When I went and read why, and how people are selected based on, you know, the criteria they’ve established. I was extremely honored, like I, you know, doesn’t take much for me to feel honored. Because I you know, I feel like I’m just a little girl from Kansas, right? You know, I always tell people, it’s a little girl from Kansas. And that’s special. But I want to tell you, I’ve received a number of awards in the last five, six years. This one has to be my ultimate favorite. What I mean, because I’ve always admired Buck O’Neil. And just thought he was a great man, wish I could have met him in person. I’ve met people who have. Many, you know, did. And so for me, that was like the ultimate validation that I’m really doing something it really did like and I’ve, it’s not to say that I haven’t ever really felt validated. But that validation, Joel, that took it to a whole ‘nother level.

Joel Goldberg 34:03
I’m the same. I mean, like in terms of wishing that I’d met him, because I I got here in ’08, he passed in ’06. I certainly knew who he was. But I’d never had the opportunity to meet him. And I don’t know that there is a person that I feel like I know, as well as him, without having met them. Just because I’m so fortunate that with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum that he founded, being right here in our own backyard. That gives me access to the extension of Buck O’Neil, Bob Kendrick, the president of the museum, and gives me the ability to help share those stories and pass those on and have that platform on a regular basis on our pregame show that every other market might have if he’s in town or on a Zoom call, but I’ve got access to that every single day and so I feel like I I have known Buck forever even though I’d never met. And I wish I had but, you know, it’s still such a blessing just to be able to know his spirit I think

Christal Watson 35:06
It is. And I felt like it was a blessing to be honored. And to, you know, really kind of feel like you’re in the same category as book called me. Like, that’s huge for me. That’s huge. That’s huge. That’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten in my whole life.

Joel Goldberg 35:23
Alright, second question. As we round the bases, we’ll have a little bit of fun with this one. What not now let you brag a little bit more. You are a boy mom.

Christal Watson 35:33
I am a boy mom, a basketball mom.

Joel Goldberg 35:39
I got one of each. I thought I was gonna be I thought we’d be all boys. And then and then and then when our daughter came. It was like, Oh my gosh, I got a girl. I don’t know like I’m not saying you couldn’t take care of girls and all that but a boy Mom, tell me about being a boy mom to four. And a grandparent now too.

Christal Watson 35:58
Yes. And I got a girl grandbaby, that some girl now you get that like to be a mom of four boys. It is invigorating. I feel like there’s never a dull moment with four boys. Especially growing up when they were growing up. Four boys kept me active, kept me engaged. Kept me on my toes. And so I tend to be a little more dramatic because you know, you guys are, you know, you don’t know care for things where women do something.

Joel Goldberg 36:37
Don’t don’t hold back. I’ve heard it before.

Christal Watson 36:40
You know, I’ve had to, you know, I’ve had to push the envelope a little bit, be a little more dramatic. And I probably I am very dramatic anyway, and animated anyway, but but it’s really taught me how to be direct. But but but kind boys will do that for you. But yeah, that’s it’s been an invigorating life with four sons. And now oh my gosh. So this is a fact. Fun fact. I have two sisters. I’m the oldest of three girls. We all had boys. Wow. So there are a total of nine grandsons. And our household can you imagine nine boys all the you know, girls, that was a madhouse when my sisters and I would come together with our sons. So that’s why it’s been invigorating. It’s like a splash of cold water.

Joel Goldberg 37:37
Yeah. I don’t even know what holidays are like there. Okay. Third question, I’ll get back a little bit to the business that you’re in, I was reading that post COVID, you pilot a program in conjunction with AMI life, VR, using virtual reality to close the learning gap. And that just struck me is really interesting. Because, first of all, I think anything with technology is interesting because these kids, if given the opportunity, they grasp, it’s so much better than we do. I mean, that’s this, this has gone on since the beginning of time, right? I mean, my kids now having to teach me how to do some things, the way I taught my parents how to do some things tell me about that experience and what it was able to do.

Christal Watson 38:13
So honestly, that experience was like pulling teeth, because we are trying to introduce innovation like that in a school district. It’s not easy, especially, you know, it’s not in my department. Right. But we were fortunate enough to get some funding from the Barton and Mary Cohen, trucks Charitable Trust, they want us to use it on equipment. And so when COVID hit, we found out only 50% of kids were engaged online, you know, because we had to convert to online learning. And then 50% of that group or even to net, right. So the percentage was really low when it came to kids actually being engaged in the classroom. So we thought VR would would help. I mean, these kids are techno kids, you know, they’re coming up into techno age. And so we introduced that to the district. Like I said, it was like, pulling teeth. It was literally like taking your kids say, Come on, I’m taking you I don’t want to go I don’t out but you pull them anyway. And now they’ve embraced it. And so KCK engaged the whole, you know, in the nutshell was to introduce VR, marry it with curriculum, and it is a tool used right in the classroom, to help get kids more engaged, and encourage motivate learning, right? And so now we partner with a nonprofit called Future Leaders Outreach Network. Dr. Diana Clemens is the CEO and they work with our district right now we have integrated the VR into after school program as well. And so our Kid Zone we have an about eight schools I know of for sure. And so they’re using VR in the classroom after school. And so it is it is slowly growing and becoming the norm around here, KCKPS.

Joel Goldberg 40:14
Great stuff really cool. And and only getting better. Okay, the last question, oh, there’s so many things that I could do here. I mean, I’ve got all kinds of cool notes that saw that your dad was a news personality, I was gonna….

Christal Watson 40:28
He was! For KMBZ/KMBR radio.

Joel Goldberg 40:31
So what’s, when I listened to you, you’re doing bigger things than this now, but like, you could totally have been a radio or TV personality with with your personality and smile and all that but, but you’re doing bigger. So I want to throw that out there because, because that’s super cool. I could list off all of your awards, but we’d be here for another hour. So I don’t have all that time. But that’s a testament. I saw appointed to Kansas Human Rights commission by Governor Laura Kelly. I was just curious about that. I mean, this is big stuff. And you know, the voice that you have, and that ability, not just mentoring that we talked about, but to be able to make an impact even beyond your your community in your district.

Christal Watson 41:12
Yeah, that was a really nice surprise to be selected by Governor Kelly, to sit on the Kansas Human Rights Commission. She also appointed me Chair, which that was mind boggling. But it is a truly an honor to participate on that we review of discrimination cases. But then also we look at the policies around housing and employment. And the director of the Human Rights Commission department within the state of Kansas, with Glover, does a phenomenal job. So she makes my job really easy and all the other Commissioners, but I review cases every month and discrimination cases throughout the state of Kansas. And so that’s pretty, pretty exciting. But Kansas does a really good job of revealing those and being fair and equitable on behalf of the residents, or Kansans.

Joel Goldberg 42:16
Well, I know this, but your your fingerprints are all over the place. Change in the community beyond I your impact is bigger than your smile, and your smile is very large. So I just thank you. I am so inspired by everything that you’re doing. You’re a powerhouse. And I hope that everyone is inspired by this. And most importantly, I’m so excited for those kids that that day by day will have a better chance than they had beforehand. And so just continued success. I know. It’s daunting, I know that you keep biting off a little bit more every single day. And I’m so grateful to you for spending some time sharing your story with us.

Christal Watson 43:06
Joel, thank you. And thank you for giving voice for so many leaders out there. What you’re doing is impactful as well. So I want to continue to encourage you and thank you and keep it going because you’re making a difference as well my friend.

Joel Goldberg 43:20
I appreciate it. Thanks Christal.

Christal Watson 43:22
Thank you.