Who We Are

Christopher Shaw, CPS, CHF - Co-Executive Director

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 traumas 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 U.S. 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, the estrangement of his three children, an out-of-control lifestyle and recurrent DUI arrests.   

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-judgemental 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 by delivering vital content and training on: 

  • Mental Health First Aid® 
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAP®)
  • Happiness At School™ 
  • QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper

Christine Wainwright, CPS - Co-Executive Director

                                                           Bio Coming Soon


"The most energetic leaders I've EVER had for any training I've taken!"

                                                                                                           Forensic ACT Team Member

                                                                                                                         Radius Health

"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!"

                                                                                                                      Outreach Associate

                                                                                                                   Wellness in the Woods