In 2017, Krystal Hardy Allen ’07 founded K. Allen Consulting as a solopreneur after being unfairly pushed out of an educational leadership position and experiencing racial injustice as a Black woman working in K-12 public education. In only five years, Allen’s New Orleans-based educational and management consulting firm is on track to become a multi-million dollar business by the end of the year and boasts high-profile clients including Google, Amazon, Teach for America, and Chicago Public Schools.
“We provide impactful customized workshops, strategic planning services, and coaching to a number of organizations across industries and across countries to help increase their organizational capacity and, therefore, their effectiveness, particularly in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, organizational leadership and change, and in the area of general staff culture and climate,” Allen explained. “I spend my time every day teaching and supporting adults to become even stronger and better versions of themselves as leaders.”
This is a fitting role for Allen, who spent the early part of her career working as an elementary school teacher and principal. After graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in sociology and minors in Africana Studies and Education, Schooling, and Society (ESS), Allen took her first job as a fourth grade teacher in Louisiana.
“After watching the unfortunate reality of Hurricane Katrina hitting the city of New Orleans, I felt deeply compelled to begin and center my work in Louisiana,” she said. “Being from the southeast, I wanted to be part of rebuilding the city of New Orleans.”
Allen is a proud native of Selma, Alabama, and said her lifelong passion for social justice was inspired by the elders in her community who marched from Selma to Montgomery with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. She always knew she wanted to “study injustice and position [herself] as an agent of change.” As she moved through her career from teacher to principal to entrepreneur, she realized her work could positively impact even more people.
“As a teacher, I could touch 30 to 45 kids, as a principal, up to 500 children,” she said. “But right now as a social entrepreneur serving school districts across the country, I’m able to impact over 60,000 children.”
K. Allen Consulting primarily offers services to four types of clients — businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies such as hospitals and housing authorities, and schools and educational organizations, including school systems and their superintendents.
“It feels incredible to be able to influence the way that superintendents are making decisions, the way that school boards are shaping policy, the way that teachers are teaching in classrooms, and, therefore, the way that kids are experiencing learning every day,” Allen said. “It’s a very diverse set of clients, but all the work is about how we build their capacity to operationalize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or building their organizational leadership and management skills.”
She explained K. Allen Consulting offers three main categories of services — leadership coaching, workshops and training, and strategic planning. The firm often provides leadership coaching services to members of organizations’ C-suite teams to help them sharpen aspects of their leadership competencies and analyze DEI within their organizations. The firm also offers customized workshops and training sessions for groups ranging in size from 15 to 250 people.
“We lead those trainings virtually or in-person, and they’re normally anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours to half a day to full day on a variety of different topics,” Allen said. “Sometimes, for instance, a client may want to develop a better understanding of how to meet the social, emotional, and mental health needs of their employees.”
Thirdly, the firm offers strategic planning services, which help clients create multi-year roadmaps for their organization’s mission, vision, goals, and strategies.
“We seek to serve our clients in ways that align to our values — authenticity, relevance, empowerment, and equity,” Allen said. “Those four values are how we approach our work [and] make decisions.”
Each year since the firm was founded, Allen said she writes down both social impact and revenue goals for her business, and each year it has significantly exceeded those goals. True to Allen’s values and vision, K. Allen Consulting has made significant contributions to nonprofit organizations, as well as children, families, and entrepreneurs within marginalized communities, every year.
“I have been very diligent about ensuring that at least 10 percent of our revenue every year is going directly … to kids and families in need and teachers who need additional supplies for their classrooms,” she said. “When COVID hit, for instance, we were able to provide $15,000 to three rural school districts within the southeastern United States. Year after year, this business has continued to significantly grow to be able to create blessings and open doors of opportunity for many others."