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Christal Morris, Ed.D

Vice President of Human Resources


  • Name: Christal Morris, Ed.D
  • Where I'm From: San Diego, Calif.
  • Where I Live: Downtown Pittsburgh
  • Education:
    University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A in Sociology; University of Phoenix, M.A. in Organizational Management; University of California, Los Angeles, Executive Leadership Development Program; Pepperdine University, Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership
  • Company:

"It is a beautiful city. I love the topography – the bridges and the rivers. I am proud to call Pittsburgh home."

Born and raised in tiny, family-friendly Bonita, just 12 miles south of San Diego, Christal Morris grew up enjoying friends and hanging out at the beach. While school friends described her as giving, loyal, animated and sometimes silly, she was serious about her studies, earning top grades. She sought out leadership opportunities as a Brownie and a Girl Scout, and in high school on the track team and as associate student body secretary.

She then plowed through a bachelor's and master's degree, worked in several leadership roles in Los Angeles as an HR director before heading for Atlanta for nearly a decade. She rose through the ranks at leading international firms there - including as global head of inclusion and diversity at advisory, broking and solutions firm Willis Towers Watson, with 40,000 employees in 140 countries. Meantime, she earned a doctorate during that time, studying flexible workplace practices, especially as they relate to working women. By 2016, looking to expand her career further, she chose UPMC, and Pittsburgh.

Christal calls it a leap of faith. "It is a beautiful city. I love the topography - the bridges and the rivers. While a bit colder than what I am used to, the people are very friendly."

As vice president of human resources for one of the region's largest healthcare providers and Pennsylvania's largest non-governmental employer, Christal brings more than 23 years of human resources experience. As the HR lead and strategist for the organization's international, enterprises and corporate divisions, as well as talent management and HR compliance functions, "no two days are ever alike," she says. You can find her facilitating a talent review session with HR leaders, coaching or mentoring younger career professionals, or working in partnership with vendors to deliver strategic, innovative solutions to UPMC's employees.

“We just rolled out our HR Service level agreement to empower and enable outstanding service levels between HR functions as well as to our internal customer groups. It touches on our value of excellence and innovation, and I am proud of the work we are doing in this space. Cristal is also excited about the development work UPMC is doing with their Women in Technology group. While she does not consider herself a techy, she enjoys bringing her experiences working in high tech environments to support women in STEM who aspire to further their careers and gain greater exposure. "I love engaging with and understanding the needs of people, while helping to create solutions to leverage talent. UPMC wants to be the employer of choice in Greater Pennsylvania and we are proud of our values-based culture."

Living downtown - and walking to work every day to what locals know as the U.S. Steel Building, on Grant Street -- has made it easier for Christal to adjust to her new job and life. In her spare time, she enjoys relaxing in her cozy apartment in one of the city's high rises, taking in fireworks after a ballgame or watching cyclists along the trails and boaters along the rivers. An avid traveler, she's visited 49 U.S. states -- recently checking Alaska off the list -- and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. (Singapore is a favorite destination.) She enjoys exploring Pittsburgh's food scene, taking in Mexican fare at lively Tako on Sixth Street, as well as dining at the chic gastropub Meat and Potatoes and Nicky's Thai Kitchen, both on Penn Avenue.

"The ease of walking in and around downtown is very exciting," she says. "I love having access to all of the restaurants and cultural amenities, literally at my footsteps. I can attend a play, get a bite to eat or attend a sporting activity all within a short walk."

Christal is also actively engaged in the community. She serves as the chapter advisor for the inaugural Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources. She is an advocate of Vibrant Pittsburgh's work to further diversify the region's workforce, and serves on the board of Jeremiah's Place - the city's only crisis nursery serving families in need of temporary child care and relief. She also has joined the board of the African American Cultural Center, which owns and operates downtown's August Wilson Center.

"Pittsburgh is growing. It's rising reputation as a technology hub is creating tons of great jobs. It is a great place to work and I am proud to work for UPMC and call Pittsburgh home."

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