Cheslie Kryst. (Photo Credit: Sage Media Group Photography)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— The current “Extra” television correspondent and Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst has been announced as North Carolina-based law firm Poyner Spruill’s first diversity advisor. The law firm traces its roots back the 1800s.

“I am honored to return to the firm where I previously served as a member of the litigation team,” said Kryst who was a member of the 90-attorney firm’s litigation team before being crowned Miss USA. “This role will allow me to provide guidance on diversity and inclusion, using my previous experience serving as a member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, my studies earning an undergraduate degree with a focus in human resources and my Master of Business Administration degree, and my various experiences speaking nationwide about diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

In her new position, Kryst will sharpen and advance Poyner Spruill’s diversity and inclusion goals. Her role will also see her working alongside the multidisciplinary law firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Kryst’s practice at the firm previously focused on complex civil litigation. She was also active in assisting the firm with diversifying its ranks and fostering an inclusive environment by interviewing diverse internship candidates through the firm’s involvement in the NCBA Minorities in the Profession program and the Charlotte Legal Diversity Clerkship, helping to author the firm’s first Diversity and Inclusion Plan, and organizing the firm’s annual Black History Month celebration.

While on sabbatical during her reign as Miss USA 2019, she continued to advocate for change and used her platform to speak against injustice, noting her passion for criminal justice reform, and has worked pro bono for clients serving excessive time for low-level drug offenses. She traveled across the country speaking about diversity and inclusion, including most notably in a workplace culture discussion hosted by the Society of Human Resource Management, during which she addressed harassment, ageism and generational differences, among other issues.

In her onstage questions during the 2019 Miss USA Competition, Kryst spoke in support of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and described the Millennial generation as “innovative” before going on to win the title.

“We are excited to have Cheslie serve the firm in this new role and to remain part of the Poyner team,” said Dan Cahill, managing partner of the law firm. “Her passion, world experiences, and knowledge will offer great insight and direction. Our firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee is energized about working alongside Cheslie to continue progressing towards and reaching our goals as we commit to fostering a firm culture that is both diverse and inclusive.”

Kryst, a Charlotte, NC-native, is the first attorney to win the Miss USA title and was the longest-reigning Miss USA in the competition’s history. She was notably part of the “trifecta” of Black queens who wore the crowns of America’s three most well-recognized pageants — Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA — simultaneously this past year.

Since October 2019, Kryst has been working as full-time correspondent at “Extra” where she covers the latest celebrity and entertainment news. She is active in her role as a Global Impact Ambassador for Dress for Success and serves on the National Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters America.

“I am looking forward to amplifying the voices of the underrepresented in this new role” said the 29-year-old Kryst. “It is an honor that Poyner Spruill trusts me to make an impact.”


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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.