Crasha Townsend, Ph.D.

Institute Co-Director

Director of Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Crasha V. Townsend, Ph.D. has dedicated more than 15 years to a career in higher education, specifically focused on social justice and leadership development.  

Dr. Townsend serves as a consultant in higher education and small business development. She has worked to foster large-scale diversity initiatives and provided community outreach at both private and public institutions such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Radford University, and Washington and Lee University. Dr. Townsend has successfully implemented an intergroup dialogue living learning community, developed a peer-based Multicultural Advocacy curriculum and program; and facilitated diversity education for campus and the greater community. She has provided dynamic leadership in rebuilding and branding diversity initiatives on campus as she oversaw a portfolio that included Student Leadership, Greek Life, Diversity and Inclusion, Student Clubs and Organizations and Student Media.

In her newly appointed role Dr. Townsend will serve as the Director of Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR), an academic resource center at Virginia Tech. Where she is dedicated to the recruitment, retention, academic support, and graduation of students from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Townsend has a national footprint in Student Affairs with her work within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), an international organization rooted in research and practice. She is the Co-Director and Founder of the Ujima Institute for professional development of African American administers in higher education, that is hosted through NASPA. Dr. Townsend served two terms as the National Chair for the African American Knowledge Community (AAKC). She also is a faculty member for African American Women’s Summit, and she has also served NASPA on the Multicultural Institute planning committee, NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program (NUFP) National and Regional Board, and with the Division for Equity and Inclusion.

Her research is focused on women in leadership in higher education. Her dissertation, “Advancing African American Women in Public Higher Education: A Phenomenological Study of Recruitment, Retention, and Career Ascension,” which examines Black women experiences at Predominantly White Institutions. Dr. Townsend has presented internationally and domestically on race, gender, and leadership. Her academic and professional career has been dedicated to engaging college students. As a campus leader, Dr. Townsend takes pride in advocating for all students, motivating staff, and creating a culture of excellence both inside and outside the classroom.

Dr. Townsend brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and energy in promoting social justice and leadership development throughout higher education and within her local community. Her undergraduate work in Integrated Public Relations at Central Michigan University, her masters in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis on College Student Affairs Leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Northwest Nazarene University, have served as a strong foundation. She is involved in several community agencies that allow her to pursue her passion of service. She is a member of the Junior League, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Dr. Townsend and her husband Lewis, and daughter Grace, reside in Roanoke, VA.