Nella Barkley ’55 to speak at Sweet Briar College commencement

Posted on March 22, 2018 by Amy Ostroth

Nella Barkley ’55 Nella Barkley ’55 will speak at Sweet Briar’s 2018 commencement.

Nella Gray Barkley ’55 — a Sweet Briar College Distinguished Alumna, successful author and member of the School of Business Board of Governors at the College of Charleston — will give the keynote address at Sweet Briar’s 109th Commencement on Saturday, May 12.

“Nella Barkley is a graceful and powerful speaker,” said Sweet Briar College President Meredith Woo. “She has a passion for empowering young people and will be an inspiration for our graduating class.”

A pioneer in the field of career coaching, Barkley is the president and co-founder of the Crystal-Barkley Corporation, which guides individuals in finding what drives them and planning meaningful careers. Barkley’s ability to find new solutions to problems has made her consulting services popular with industry as well as branches of government.

Barkley is a sought-after mentor and public speaker and is frequently quoted in national media such as Forbes, Bloomberg and the Washington Post. She’s also been a guest on CBS Morning News and Larry King Live.

Barkley is also a dedicated volunteer in her hometown of Charleston, S.C., where she initiated a center to rehabilitate, rather than institutionalize, juvenile delinquents; helped develop a low-income housing rehabilitation program for the City of Charleston; and was the first general manager of the Spoleto Festival, USA, an annual international arts event.

Barkley has served as a leader on a number of boards and committees, including as vice chair of the South Carolina Committee of the Endowment for the Humanities and president of the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. She’s been a member of the Charleston Opera Society, the South Carolina Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the board of directors for “Up With People,” just to name a few. She’s written two books, “How To Help Your Child Land The Right Job (Without Being a Pain in the Neck)” and “The Crystal-Barkley Guide To Taking Charge Of Your Career.” Barkley was honored with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor in the state of South Carolina.

At Sweet Briar, Barkley majored in political science and took advantage of the College’s Junior Year in France program, which allowed her to study at the University of Paris. She also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. In 2002, she was honored as Sweet Briar’s Distinguished Alumna for her many personal and professional accomplishments as well as her ongoing support of the College.

For more information about commencement, including a complete schedule, visit