Chris grew up on New York City's lower East side with four sisters to show biz parents. Following his parent's divorce and his mother's remarriage, the family migrated to the picturesque town of Stillwater, Minnesota. For the teenager, the combination of cultural shock and lingering effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) would stunt his emotional growth, and began the onset of his battle with mental illness. He began using alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, while at the same time, started to develop his comedic skills as a way to both deflect attention away from his awkward shyness and inner turmoil.
Chris is a Navy veteran, serving three tours of duty aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59). He attended the University of WI-River Falls where he received his BA in English. With a passion for music and performance, he toured the US as a bassist/singer for several years, before embarking on a career as a stand-up comedian. The highs of his 25+ year career included numerous cable and network television appearances, as well as touring as the opening act for "Weird Al” Yankovic, Gilbert Gottfried and Brian Regan. But all the while struggling with his undiagnosed mental illness and worsening substance abuse issues, came the lows of two failed marriages, isolation from his three children, an out-of-control lifestyle and recurrent DUI arrests, all culminating in a near-fatal suicide attempt.
It was during a dual-diagnosis treatment stay at the Minneapolis VA Hospital that Chris was exposed to a member of the facility team who introduced himself as a 'Peer Support Specialist', there only in the capacity to be a non-judgmental ear of someone who had been right when he was now. Chris was so moved by the role this person played in his recovery, he vowed upon graduation from the VA program that he too would complete the education and training to become a CPS.
Today, Chris is working to expand this vision of the hope for recovery that can come from those who share a lived experience with mental illness and substance abuse issues, both adults and children. As an advocate, speaker, trainer and facilitator, he is combining his gift of humor, and his commitment to combat stigma and end suicide by sharing his own story and delivering vital content.
Over the years, Christine Wainwright has held many positions - athletic trainer, Biology teacher, Realtor and business owner. But her proudest achievements have been her children, and her recovery. But the road that has led her to where she is today, her 'lived experience', has given her an intuitive understanding of how having and instilling hope can be the spark that can turn a life around.
As the COO of The Heart and Mind Connec tion, Christine not only manages the day-to-day operations of all business aspects of the organization, but also provides education and awareness programming. She is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, a Certified WRAP Facilitator and an engaging and passionate speaker.
Melanie Peterson, Chair - Owner, Sober Housing Solutions, LLC
Tim Cheesebrow - Founder, Teacher at Discover Music
Madeline Archbold - Development Operations Coordinator, Second Harvest
Sgt. Eric Nelson (Ret.) - Isanti County Corrections
Nathan Lindstrom - President, Peacefit Media
Bios Coming Soon
"The most energetic leaders I've EVER had for any training I've taken!"
Forensic ACT Team Member
"The best aspects of this workshop were the personal experiences of the presenters."
Participant - WRAP I
"The facilitators were the best part of the experience. You guys are awesome and work great together!"
Wellness in the Woods
The Heart and Mind Connection © is a 501(c)(3) non-profit social services organization dedicated to mental health advocacy and awareness.
Our mission is to develop connection, foster purpose and empower ourselves and others struggling with hope, through education and suicide prevention programming.