Crystal Abbe Graham is the publisher of Augusta Free Press LLC, which was founded in 2002. Her areas of focus include web design, graphic design, event planning, fundraising, and marketing strategy.
A graduate of Virginia Tech, she is a member of Gamma Phi Beta.
Crystal began her professional career at The News Virginian (Waynesboro, Va.) in 1999. She has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design.
Crystal covers news and sports for Augusta Free Press. Her news coverage includes a series on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and national and local politics. She has also covered UVA athletics for Augusta Free Press, as well as Nascar, ACC Football Kickoffs and the 2017 and 2018 ACC Basketball tournaments. She is a regular contributor to the “Street Knowledge” podcast also produced by Augusta Free Press.
She is most proud of her series covering local efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, a prevention campaign with the Central Shenandoah Office on Youth titled “Be the Influence” and efforts around Mental Health Month and a Suicide Prevention Roundtable started in 2016 by Graham.
Crystal served on the board of directors of the Virginia chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and was the area director for AFSP’s Virginia chapter in 2017. Under her leadership, the chapter raised $641,155.43 in campus and community walks. In 2017, the chapter also increased event participation (190 events to 111 previous year), educated more people (10,839 vs 3,711 in previous year) and increased community partners from 38 to 98. The team also secured more than 120 corporate sponsorships during walk season and organized the most successful month of fundraising at Baker’s Crust in the restaurant’s history.
In 2017, she received the Dr. and Mrs. C. Lennart Sanquist Prevention Award from Mental Health America of Augusta for her work in suicide prevention including the formation of a Suicide Prevention Roundtable. Graham was certified in 2019 by LivingWorks Education to teach safeTALK, a half-day workshop that teaches participants to be a suicide alert helper. In 2016, Crystal completed a two-day facilitator training for a Survivors of Suicide Loss Peer-to-Peer Support Group and helped launch a Staunton, Va.-based group. She completed the two-day ASIST intervention training in 2016 also offered by LivingWorks Education and has presented programs to local populations (general public, high school and colleges) including Talk Saves Lives, More than Sad, and It’s Real. In 2017, she also participated in a Dale Carnegie training in Chicago titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People: Leadership Lessons” with Stephen Holgate and Sarah Mannone. Crystal completed a grant writing workshop with Laurie Jarrett Rogers through the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Richmond. She served on the mental health expert review committee for the Virginia Department of Education working on revisions to the mental-health portions of the SOLs. In 2021, she became certified as a Youth Mental Health First Aider through a course offered by regionten.
Graham started a Facebook Page titled The Ditto Project to further the cause of suicide prevention and education. Her dedication to prevention stems from the loss of her identical twin sister, Christina, who died by suicide and suffered from depression. In addition to suicide prevention and mental health, she also advocates for animals, the arts, youth and LGBTQ+ rights.
She has also previously served as the associate director of the Wayne Theatre Alliance, marketing director of the Waynesboro Generals collegiate summer baseball team and was a volunteer business ambassador with the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves on the executive board of the Augusta chapter of Mental Health America.
She was the co-host of Viewpoints, a weekly TV news show on WVPT, a PBS affiliate in Harrisonburg, Va., from 2016-2017, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show on WVPT that aired from 2004-2005. Her work on Virginia Tonight earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.