Powerful Women Take The Stage: Cristal Montanez Baylor
Cristal Montanez Baylor
Cristal Montañéz Baylor, a humanitarian and philanthropist, is experienced in citizen diplomacy, working in some of the world's most controversial countries. Her efforts promote international relations and understanding among people of different cultures and sectors of society as she joins with leaders worldwide.
In August 2021, Cristal was appointed as an Honorary International Ambassador for Rotary International Venezuela District 4380 International Service Committee. She is a member of the Rotary e-Club of Houston and is the International Coordinator of the Hope For Venezuelan Refugees Project. The undertaking was created in response to food insecurity and hunger affecting thousands of Venezuelan refugees, migrants and walkers “caminantes” crossing the Colombian-Venezuelan border during the largest exodus of refugees in the history of Latin America, and the Western Hemisphere. Further, it is the largest forced migration crisis caused by dictatorship and corruption in the world, second only to the Syrian refugee crisis, which has suffered from war.
The project received the Rotary "Humanitarian Service Project of the Year Award 2018-19," and was recognized both with the "International Service Above Self" Award (2018-2019), and Rotarian of the Year 2019-2020 by the Rotary e-Club of Houston for helping to alleviate hunger and promote peace.
On October 14, 2021, the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston recognized Cristal as one of Houston’s 2021 "Global Leaders of Influence," and the Houston International Trade Development Council, Inc. (HITDC) presented Cristal with the 2021 Global Seven G7 “Outstanding Humanitarian Award” for her work in promoting human well-being locally and internationally.
Cristal serves on the Board of Directors of Sister Cities of Houston (SCH), the Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA), and the Foro Atenas, a pro-democracy think-tank and action group in Bogotá, Colombia.
Cristal is the former Executive Director of Hashoo Foundation USA (2006-2018), a non-profit organization headquartered in Pakistan. Her work supported a diverse portfolio of the Foundation's economic development, education, and emergency relief projects that galvanized thousands of people and positively impacted vulnerable communities in the region. Cristal's primary focus was to empower women and girls through economic development in the most remote areas of Gilgil Baltistan located on the border of China, India, and Afghanistan in northern Pakistan, as described in her Plan Bee TEDx Talk. Cristal’s work was instrumental in the success of the Women's Empowerment through Honey Bee Farming "Plan Bee Project." Its global impact was recognized by many organizations, including the prestigious BBC World, Shell Global, and Newsweek Magazine’s 2008 World Challenge Competition Global Award.
As a former Miss Venezuela, Cristal is committed to defending Venezuela's human, political and civil rights. Her work as a human freedom and pro-democracy activist is highlighted at the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Freedom Collection. The Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations (DCFR) recognized Cristal as an Individual Making Significant Contributions on the Frontlines of Foreign Policy for impacting families’ lifetime opportunities, helping to deter extremism in a practical way, and making strides toward peace. In 2010, Powerful Women International (PWIC) presented her with the Global Leadership Award at the PWI Worldwide Women's Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, while Paper City Magazine recognized her as a Freedom Fighter in 2012. In addition, Texas Executive Women selected Cristal as one of the ten 2013 Women on the Move (WOM) for her professional achievements and work giving back to the community in many ways.
In November 28 2020, Todo Chic Magazine selected among the Top 100 Venezuelan women of 2020. The Coalition for Venezuela, an independent initiative made up of 63 organizations present in 23 countries, created with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS), and working in the defense and promotion of human rights, freedoms, and democratic values, designated Cristal as Goodwill Ambassador in June 2021.
She is a member of the Houston Committee on Foreign Relations (Houston Committee on Foreign Relations HCFR), the International Advisory Committee of the organization of Women Powerful International, as well as the multisectoral team TREN (Talleres de Reconstrucción Nacional) in Venezuela.
Cristal is married to George Baylor. She loves traveling, and spending time with her five grandchildren, and her children, Gabriela, and Hank.