Chris grew up in NYC, but migrated to Stillwater, MN as a teenager, where the lingering effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) began the onset of his struggle with mental illness and substance use disorders. Chris is a Navy veteran, attended UW-River Falls for a BA in English and toured as a musician for several years, before embarking on a career as a stand-up comedian. His 25+ year career included performing for tens of thousands of people, both live and on numerous TV appearances. Yet all the while he struggled with undiagnosed mental illness and worsening substance use issues. With the lows of two failed marriages, isolation from his children, an out-of-control lifestyle and recurrent DUI arrests, it all culminated in a near-fatal suicide attempt in 2015.
Today, Chris is working to expand a vision of the hope for recovery that can come from those who share a lived experience with mental illness and substance use challenges, 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 across the country.
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', including the loss of her 8 year-old daughter, 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 Connection, 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, as well as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Certified WRAP Facilitator. She's also an engaging and passionate speaker.
Founder/Teacher, Discover Music
Owner, Sober Housing Solutions, LLC
Development Operations Coordinator, Second Harvest Heartland
President, Peacefit Media
Isanti County Corrections (Ret.)
The Heart and Mind Connection is Minnesota's only Peer-run and veteran-led mental health and substance use recovery, advocacy and awareness 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our mission is to develop connection, foster purpose and empower ourselves and others struggling with hope, through education, suicide prevention programming and legislative activism.
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