One of the earliest men in NE to do the New Warrior Adventure Training, Chris now works on a graphic novel with a main autistic character named Aspie Mouse – for latest draft, see aspiemouse.com – giving back to his autism tribe, while better appreciating how autism has influenced his personality and decisions, as well as colored how people see him. He claims it was the Mankind Project – specifically, the opportunity to work as the NE Data Manager & Registrar in 1998-1999 that changed him forever. Helping a man get into an I-group led him to trust the Universe, and then other people and himself. That trust brought a woman into his life whom he didn’t push away. Marrying for the first time at 55, he now has a son (17) and a daughter (15). As a member of the MKP USA Engagement Team, Chris learns so much from the men he calls, even as he tries to give them quicker access instead of the seven years it took to start reaping his own Mankind Project rewards. In that role, he’s helped scores of men find their place in MKP and in life. He wants other men to get the gifts from MKP he got, but sooner! Because his wife works full-time, Chris is above all, the at-home Dad and shuttle driver. Chris is a model of how pushing through anxiety by learning to trust can truly create the positive force in this world that men in Mankind Project strive to manifest.
If you were stranded on an island, what famous person would you like to join you there?
Johannes Brahms: in one old photo, his eyes mirror the intensity I hear in his music! I want to know what’s behind his angst & agony in his chamber music that penetrates to my core. Dvorak’s music punches my gut the same way.
Born in 1949 in Greenwich Village, Manhattan to a Navy veteran and mother, who moved from Chicago during WW II to be together more. When he was two Chris moved with his parents to the Marble Hill Public Housing Project in the Bronx, an area with racial and ethnical diversity.His father was a stock trader for a bank, while his mother stayed home initially; both went back to college at night, earning degrees. Chris initially identified with his father, including his father’s politically conservative views. For instance, he supported Goldwater for President and debated on behalf of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s run for Mayor of NYC. He now realizes much of his personality – such as compassion, sensitivity and generosity – came from his mother.
Chris’s high grades and standardized test scores were offset by having what’s now diagnosed as ADHD, and interrupting classes with comments and tantrums (Autism). He started in therapy in 3rd grade. By going to Dewitt Clinton High School, he had less competition than the more rigorous Bronx HS of Science which he attributes to his ability to get into Yale. He graduated Yale in 1971.
Chris remembers ages 15 to 25 as the worst decade of his life. He had no direction and was constantly asking himself: “What’s wrong with me?” Now he knows that was because those with autism lag emotionally, and those with ADHD lack persistence to a goal. Nonetheless, he worked as an insurance underwriter for two unhappy years, yet finally glad to be out of NYC by moving to Syracuse. Fired from his 2nd insurance job in Syracuse because he said things that offended people, he felt like a failure: every job he’d ever had he’d either been fired from, or almost, or something went wrong. He did take up TM in Syracuse in 1974 – meditating ever since!
Then he stumbled into publishing in 1974, promoting textbook “adoptions” to professors — first in Southern Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, and then in the Pacific Northwest, for Charles Merrill. He hustled and claimed the division’s #1 sales rep award twice in five years and was the only college division rep to win the President’s Award for greatest yearly sales increase over quota.
Promoted in 1979 to editor of engineering technology texts at Charles Merrill, he turned a backwater list into the college division’s fastest growing and most profitable list, now crediting autism’s positives for his success. In 1985, his former boss convinced him to try sales management with Delmar (Albany, NY), allowing him to move to the Boston. Due to politics, Chris became an editor again in 1990, this time with West College Publishing working first in Evanston, IL, then back to the Greater Boston area.
During his time in Cincinnati and Seattle, Chris participated in a Transactional Analysis Group and got cognitive/dialectical behavioral therapy to improve his eating manners and stop his anxiety-fueled behaviors, but they really didn’t improve much. After visiting a Quaker Meeting in Cambridge with his mother, he attended for two years, finally standing up, speaking his truth — and was handed an Al-Anon meeting list. A year later in Chicago, at an Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting, he saw an NWTA brochure. He did the NWTA in May ‘91 at Haimowoods, WI, Ron Hering leading. Though he didn’t really “get it,” he continued in the facilitated eight weeks (now the PIT), when five of the other eight men said they trusted him the least. That was his wakeup call.
Back in Massachusetts, Chris stayed in touch with his Chicago I-group, around business trips, even with only 3.5 hr layovers. After receiving a postcard from Joe Laur, he found the first Eastern MA I-Group, Men of Boston, where he remains 26 years later. He then staffed New England’s second NWTA in Petersham, MA in July 1996. He has staffed 42 more times plus three MOS’s since. When Thomson Education bought West in 1996, the same people who terminated him previously from Delmar terminated him again. He hasn’t had a full-time job lasting longer than 15 months since. Following four Landmark Education courses (the Forum, etc.), he fell into a 4-1/2-month depression. A year after he recovered his joyful spirit, he took on the NE Data Manager role, learned to trust: the greatness of MKP men (himself too!); the wisdom of mentors and coaches (hadn’t before); and marrying “with no exit plan.” Other MKP accomplishments include: (1) completing LT-1 & 2, OCL 103 & two I & I’s, Guts weekends; Shadow Work Weekends; Couples Weekend 1 & 2, and I-Group Leadership Training; (2) serving as NE I-group Coordinator 2000-2001 and NE Center Director 2004-5; (3) NE Leader Body 2001-2010; (4) declared elder since 2010; (5) NE Historian (continuing), and (6) MKP USA Engagement Team since 2017.
Chris says, “My mission is to co-create a connected peaceful world in balance by modeling the four A’s: attendance, awareness, acceptance, and action (Last three are from AA). My MKP mission’s vision is to help make MKP welcoming and safe for men with autism and other social pragmatic differences. I show up, I know who I am, and I focus on accepting, loving, forgiving and being compassionate to myself first, and then others – remembering to be grateful. I strive to be a witness, not a judge. My mantra is, ‘I welcome all feedback.’”