Meet Chris

 


Parents_with_caption.pngChris is a longtime resident of Oakland’s District 4, where he lives in Montclair with his wife, Samania, and their four-year-old son, Elijah. Chris is the son of two public school teachers--a black father from Watts and white mother from an upper-middle-class Sacramento family--and the grandson of a steel-mill worker and a small business owner. Chris’s working-class upbringing instilled in him the virtue of hard work, living in service of others, and a deep commitment to building a community that is inclusive and equitable.

Young_Family_copy.pngChris first moved to Oakland in 2002 to attend UC Berkeley Law School. Driving each day from the flatlands of West Oakland where he lived to the pristine law school campus served as a constant reminder of the racial and socioeconomic divide that plagued Oakland then and is even more severe today. As a law student, Chris co-founded Law Student Outreach, a student-run organization based in East Oakland that helped formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into society. He modeled the program after one that his father, who himself had been incarcerated for many years, created in the 1970s after paroling from prison for the last time and enrolling at Sacramento City College. After law school, Chris launched his legal career at the San Francisco-based law firm, Morrison & Foerster, where he brought a pro bono educational inequality class-action lawsuit against the State, challenging the constitutional integrity of the California High School Exit Exam.

In 2008, inspired by the long-shot Presidential bid of a young senator from Illinois - Chris joined the Obama campaign as Deputy Finance Director for Northern California, becoming the first full-time staffer based in the Bay Area. He spent the next 18 months co-leading the campaign’s regional fundraising efforts and engaging in grassroots organizing in California and beyond.

After Obama clinched the presidency, Chris returned to his hometown, Sacramento, to serve as Senior Advisor and Counsel to the Mayor. In that capacity, he worked to ensure that the City’s middle class stayed intact during the Great Recession of 2008 and pushed for government reform to make City officials more accountable to voters. Shortly after starting his work in Sacramento, Chris was presented with an opportunity to move to Washington, D.C. to serve in the Obama White House. There he served as Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked with Mayors and State Attorneys General to develop local and federal criminal justice reform policies.

After two D.C. winters Chris decided to move back to beautiful, sunny, Oakland. Back home, Chris was appointed to the Oakland Ethics Commission, where he and his fellow commission members worked to increase transparency and accountability in
City government.

Chris is currently the General Counsel at GoFundMe. He is also the Co-Founder and President of the Direct Impact Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to supporting individuals impacted by natural and manmade disasters and social movements like TIME'S UP and Equal Pay Day. To date, the charity has raised over $40 million from over 200,000 donors.