Christal Phillips was born and raised in Detroit. She received a Skillman Foundation Scholarship to attend high school at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods. Christal holds degrees from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and Columbia University, and participated in study abroad at Stendhal University in Grenoble, France.
Christal was a Visiting Professor at Yonsei University in South Korea, specializing in poverty alleviation in developing countries. Her work took her to countries in East Africa, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. In the USA, she interned for the New York Division of Human Rights in Harlem and worked for three years at the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission in Honolulu. Christal is currently an Assistant Director in the Office of the Chief of Staff for the Detroit Public Schools Community District.