BYU Marriott alumna Krislyn Powell has a knack for creating connections, whether as a yogi, an administrator, or a volunteer.
A birthday party is pretty much the best thing when you’re a kid, but when Krislyn Powell was growing up, she loved the prep work as much as the parties themselves. She would carefully select a theme—such as a shopping spree or a luau—and ensure the favors and food aligned.
“I was always looking up different websites for decorations,” she recalls. “I would pick party favors, organize messaging for the invitations, and make sure the guest list was all ready.”
When it was time for the celebrations to begin, Powell also enjoyed hosting. “As sort of a shy child, I didn’t love parties where you showed up and there weren’t planned activities,” she says. “I liked greeting people, making sure everyone felt connected to others, and offering fun activities.”
That fondness for planning and hosting continued into adulthood, ultimately influencing her college education and her professional career. In her position as engagement manager of agent experience for Arizona-based Liveops, a virtual contact center, one of her main responsibilities is creating events and programs for contracted agents who provide customer service to big-name clients. She also manages an online community for 60,000 active agents—along with the correlating communications—from her home in Queen Creek, Arizona. “Our mission focuses on agents, clients, and employees all as customers who deserve an exceptional experience,” she notes.
It didn’t take long for Powell, who joined Liveops in 2021, to realize that the company’s motto—Improving People’s Lives—was a serious focus. “That’s something I witness every day,” she says. “It’s at the heart of what we do, and I’ve never been happier with a team that I’ve worked with.”
Powell’s passion for creating community and connections keeps her life in check. “When I feel like my purpose is deviating or I don’t feel like I’m fulfilled, I ask myself, ‘Where are you cultivating community? Where are you leaning in? How are you finding connections?’” she says.
During Powell’s first semester at BYU, the looming midterm tests weighed heavily on her. She mentioned her stress to a friend as they settled into their seats before a class. Her friend had the perfect response: “Why don’t you come to yoga class with me? It’s free for students.”
Powell accepted the offer and found herself rolling out a mat in the Smith Fieldhouse two days later, hopeful the class would bring some reprieve.
Initially, she was disappointed. “The poses were frustrating, it was uncomfortable, and the breathing was difficult,” Powell says. “I like to be good at things quickly, and this was taking a lot of effort.”
But by the time Powell uttered “namaste” an hour later, she had a different perspective. “My mindset had shifted, the stress had lifted, and I was feeling so much relief. I realized this was something I had to pursue,” she says.
Powell, now a certified yoga teacher, credits the practice for not only helping her connect with others but also strengthening her to overcome challenges. “I’ve learned yoga is a metaphor for life. Being able to work on holding the poses and keeping a steady breath has helped me. When I feel like things are trying to knock me down or sway me, I’m figuratively able to ‘hold those poses.’”
Best of Both Worlds
The oldest of five children, Powell grew up in an athletic family. She was also a talented writer who served as her high school’s newspaper editor in North Phoenix, Arizona. When she got to BYU, however, she felt less of a pull to journalism and began college with an undeclared major.
“I felt like there was a missing piece. I wasn’t playing basketball anymore, something I’d done my entire life,” she says. “I initially chose recreation management because of its focus on finding community and staying active and healthy.”
About halfway through her program, the recreation management major moved from the College of Health and Human Performance, where it had been more fitness and wellness related, to BYU Marriott, where it gained a business focus. “I feel like I enjoyed the best of both worlds,” Powell says. “My classes became more about how we could make an impact through our careers, whether in corporate, nonprofits, or sports.”
Thanks to her new BYU Marriott connections, Powell began interning at Thanksgiving Point as she finished up her degree in 2013. That internship proved pivotal in more ways than one. In addition to gaining invaluable experience, Powell met Brittany Loose, a public events manager who would become one of her greatest mentors. “She taught me about the meaning of cultivating community and building a sense of purpose within events,” Powell explains.
In her seven months at Thanksgiving Point, Powell worked a myriad of events, from festivals and exhibits to races and concerts. She also got to plan an event from scratch: the Squealer Kids Fun Run, an outdoor obstacle course and mud race that featured pigs from a local farm and participants outfitted with snouts.
Loose, who now directs marketing and events at Fight Against Domestic Violence, says it was easy to trust Powell with big projects such as the fun run. “Krislyn will not back down from a challenge, as daunting as it may seem,” she says.
Loose also noticed Powell’s talent for connecting with others. “Krislyn has a natural ability to balance professionalism with warmth and empathy when working with clients and colleagues. I learned very early that she is an excellent active listener, and she always asks the most thoughtful questions to ensure that she absorbs and understands what is being taught or spoken about,” Loose says.
After graduation, Powell moved back to Arizona to work as a membership and wellness director at the YMCA in Chandler; she also began volunteering as a middle-school girls basketball coach, which later led to several paid high-school coaching opportunities.
A couple of years later, Loose reached out. She had moved from Thanksgiving Point to Google Fiber, and she talked Powell into returning to Utah and joining her.
While she was working at Google Fiber, Powell was set up with Matt, a medic in the US Army Special Forces. Right before their date, however, Matt was deployed to Southeast Asia for a four-month stint; when he returned, they tried again. Dinner at a Park City restaurant provided an ideal environment, and the two quickly connected.
Nine months later, Powell and Matt were married. “We’re both the oldest in our families, so we each like to be the one who dictates what’s going to happen. Matt’s very spur-of-the-moment,” Powell says. “I like to plan and think long-term, but I’ve enjoyed his surprises. Life is boring if it’s planned to a T.”
Marriage wasn’t the only change in Powell’s life; she applied for and landed a job as the event manager for Downtown Tempe Authority, and the couple headed back to Arizona, where Matt had also grown up. “I loved getting to know and serving our Tempe community,” Powell says. “Many of the volunteers and staff that I managed at events were residents who cared deeply about the work.”
In fall 2019, Powell became pregnant and then miscarried, which left her physically and mentally fragile. “It was a difficult path to walk, and it took time to heal,” says Powell, who once again credits mindfulness with helping her through the loss. “Committing to a mindful practice can see you through anything. Sitting on a mat and breathing for even just five minutes shut out the noise and carved out a space in my life where I wasn’t confused.”
Fast forward two years, and the Powells welcomed a son, Cooper, to their family. “Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she says, acknowledging that she’s grateful for a strong support system and for work-from-home employment. “But it has also taught me so much about time management, getting things done, and being able to connect quickly. I’ve never been so tired—but I’ve also never felt so energized.”
Powell let her yoga and mindfulness practices lapse while she was in post-partum survival mode but recently picked them back up. “I’ve felt strong enough mentally and physically to devote an hour to the mat every day,” she says. “It’s made a world of difference in my energy, stamina, and patience.”
The extra boost yoga gives her comes in handy as she balances work and introduces Cooper to the world. “I want to create opportunities where he gets to build strong relationships with the people who love him the most and where I can encourage him to explore,” Powell says.
Never Say Never
When Powell graduated from BYU in 2013, she told herself she would never go back to school. However, a couple years before the pandemic hit, she began mulling over the idea. “I think 2020 forced everyone to take deep looks at themselves,” she observes. “It hit me that if I wanted to pursue another degree, it was now or never.”
Powell enrolled in the parks and recreation management master’s degree program at Northern Arizona University, initially with the plan to become an administrator much like the TV character Leslie Knope. “My family teased me about that,” Powell says with a smile. Her choice of study was interesting given that in her youth she was a self-described “girly girl” who didn’t enjoy going on family campouts. “In college I realized that I needed to find a way to cope with stress and school, so I found yoga and hiking,” she says. “My time outdoors is now something I savor.”
Powell graduated with her master’s degree in 2022 and notes that she was a bit of an anomaly in the program because of her experience in marketing, events, and communications; interestingly, those topics turned out to be a significant focus. “The curriculum was dedicated to experience management—how a person journeys through a program—and that applies to so many industries,” she says. “I’ve realized that working in the recreation industry doesn’t mean you need to know everything about the outdoors. There are other elements of recreation.”
Powell’s comfort in navigating grad school as an outlier likely stemmed from guidance she received as a teen. The summer before her senior year of high school, Powell was one of 16 students selected to attend a summer journalism institute at Arizona State University, and the thought of spending two weeks attending classes and living in dorms stirred up some social jitters. “I struggled meeting new people, and I remember telling my mom, ‘I won’t know anyone.’ My mom told me to go find someone sitting alone and be their friend and make them feel comfortable,” Powell says.
That advice has stuck with her. “We’re all going through this human journey, and however different it may be, we all share points along our journey that are similar,” she says. “It’s important to find and forge friendships that can serve as support, both being able to lean on other people and also being the shoulder for other people to lean on.”
That reciprocity comes into play as Powell utilizes the community service hours Liveops provides her to help at a senior citizen home with her dog Kai. “It’s been impactful for me, and Kai gets all the attention and affection he wants,” she says. “I’ve learned so much in such a short time by taking these moments to sit still and listen to the residents we visit as they find joy and peace from simply petting my sweet golden retriever.”
Powell, who now calls herself an outgoing introvert, thrives in environments such as these where she can connect with people, and she is working to build her own social community by sharing tips and resources on social media regarding community, professional success, and wellness; she also enjoys networking on LinkedIn. “As I’m finding community and connecting with people, I am seeing the little moments in my life that feel special,” she says, “and I am learning more about Christlike love.”
Written by Emily Edmonds
Photography by Bradley Slade
About the Author
Emily Edmonds is a former editor of Marriott Alumni Magazine. She earned her BA and MA in communications from BYU.