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Meet Chris Wilson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Wilson.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born to two working-class parents in Whittier, California. They, like me, believed in hard work and the value of a dollar. My father went on to become one of the first African American supervisors to work at AT&T while my mother marched alongside social justice movements for better wages and working conditions.

My upbringing from elementary school to high school presented a lot of challenges both in and out of the classroom. As an only child, I was shy, self-conscious, lost, and a victim of bullying. I had no confidence in myself.

Today, I believe I am who I am because of the sacrifices my parents made for me and the choices I made for myself. I am emotionally and mentally stronger than I ever was because of them. Although my story is not unique, my trials and tribulations are real and must be shared to the leaders of tomorrow.

I have the great fortune to be in a position to encourage, inspire and motivate young leaders with my story and life experiences. I’ve been a big believer that as we climb, we lift.

I am a district director to the California state legislature, a proud Rotarian, a county appointed commissioner, a city planning commissioner, a co-founder of a nonprofit, a neighborhood president and a community activist. But most of all, I am an African American and Latino man who lives in a small town focused on inspiring people one story at a time.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. I have made mistakes, experienced heartbreak, and experienced uncomfortable positions. However, I have learned that my setbacks were only setups for a stronger comeback.

As an only child and during my upbringing, I lacked confidence. I did not believe in myself nor in my gift. Too often, I let people talk me out of my dreams only to let those same people live my imagination.

One of my darkest moments was being bullied in middle school. Until recently, I was too shy to talk about it. I felt ashamed and weak.

Today, I look back at many of my struggles and realize that they were part of the path.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
For the last 12 years, I’ve worked for the California State Legislature. Although I understand the negative rhetoric that government receives, I take my passion very seriously because I believe the number one priority of government is to improve a person or a community’s quality of life.

Additionally, I serve as a city planning commissioner for the City of Signal Hill and recent county appointee for the Metro Citizens Advisory Council.

Public service is and has been in my blood. I believe government can do amazing things. It is a belief that I carry everyday that I have the opportunity to serve people.

Lastly, I am a co-founder of a nonprofit called Rising Together, where our mission is to assist youth and youth with disabilities in the areas of mentoring, vocational skills and economic empowerment.

I believe I am unique because God made me, and everyone else in this world, in his own image. I am a hard worker, committed person, and loyal person who always sees the best in people.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have had many people throughout my career that have helped me to achieve. They have been friends, colleagues and partners. However, I attribute most of my accomplishments and achievements to my mother, father, aunt and grandmother. If it weren’t for them, I would not be where I am at today. As mentioned before, I was a very shy and low confident person growing up. What motivated me was not just their own personal and professional challenges, but it was the stories of their parents and their families that inspired me to live without regret and create a new path with no existing footprints.

I also have three best friends growing up that know me inside and out. Words cannot express how much I love them. They helped me through kindergarten, middle school, high school and even today. They know much of the deep-down feelings that I so often bundled up inside of me. They are all my brothers and proud to call them my best friends.

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