At Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Chrystina Russell is the Executive Director of SNHU’s Global Education Movement (GEM), where she spearheads innovative initiatives to bring tertiary education and employment pathways to refugees and traditionally underserved learners. She’s most passionate about building university programs in refugee camps and urban areas where students who normally would not access higher education use online and in-person learning to earn a Bachelor’s degree from SNHU. The project began in collaboration with Kepler in Kigali in 2013 and expanded to Kiziba refugee camp in 2015. Chrystina pitched the model and was proud to be selected as an MIT SOLVER in 2017.
In 2018, Chrystina lead the expansion of the model into 4 new countries (Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, & Lebanon) as well as the launch of an assessment center in Rwanda to pilot lowering the delivery cost of Bachelor’s degrees through a combination of training local talent and artificial intelligence. Previously, she was the Chief Academic Officer of Kepler, a blended learning university program based in Rwanda. The organization has two campuses opened and lead by Chrystina—one in the capital city of Kigali and the other in Kiziba refugee camp.
Prior, she was the founding principal of Global Tech Prep, a high-performing public school in East Harlem, New York and was faculty at the City College of New York. Chrystina began her career as a bilingual special education teacher in the Bronx, where she became addicted to understanding educational challenges and using innovation and technology to find creative solutions in vulnerable communities. Chrystina graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Organization & Minority Communities, has Master’s in Bilingual Special Education, and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy from the City University of New York Graduate Center.