Alumnus Leaves behind Street Violence to Create Social Justice

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Christopher G. “Chris” Womack ’04BSW/’06MSW was 35 years old when he received a B.S.W. from Wheelock College. He then stayed at the College for two more years to earn an M.S.W. The husband and father, after forging a path away from street violence in Pittsburgh, PA, and toward creating social justice in Boston, hoped to impress upon the youth and families he served the value of a quality education. He went to school in the Pittsburgh Public School System, and, though he received some higher education at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, he knew firsthand of the temptations of “the streets.”

After an intense period of self-reflection, Chris decided to follow a “righteous” path and help others break free from the vicious cycle of street violence. In 1989, after living many years “on the edge” in Pittsburgh, Chris decided to move to Boston and embark on a new beginning.

Chris has now worked or volunteered in Boston Centers for Youth & Families, Boston Public Schools, and Boston secure lockup facilities, and on the city’s streets for more than two decades. With this experience, he became the City of Boston’s Youth Unit outreach educator/trainer, and he then became an assistant teacher at Community Academy, a Boston Public School alternative program for students who have not thrived in traditional settings. After being an assistant teacher at Community Academy, Chris founded and worked as the executive director for God’s Soldiers Inc., a nonprofit outreach program for at-risk youth.

To credential his nearly two decades of work and service to the city of Boston and its faith-based community, Chris enrolled in Roxbury Community College and earned an Associate of Arts degree. Determined to be considered a master craftsman in human services and to continue and better his work on behalf of children and families, he began his Wheelock College education. Chris now considers enrolling in a Ph.D. program at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania.

Aside from his academic accomplishments, Chris is an ordained minister and an accomplished speaker/youth advocate with expertise in the fields of human and youth services. Chris is a leader in the ecumenical community of Christian clergy who — in 1992 — organized the Boston TenPoint Coalition to quell the city’s neighborhood violence and positively redirect the lives of black and Latino gang members and youth at high risk for committing crime, abusing drugs, and engaging in other destructive behaviors. The success they achieved is widely recognized as the “Boston Miracle.” The impact of this monumental achievement was an impetus for Chris to travel to Clinton, TN, to meet with renowned civil rights activist and lawyer Marian Wright Edelman to talk about whether the same efforts could be reproduced as a national or perhaps international model.

Chris received the Massachusetts Family Institute Citizen’s Award and continues his leadership in organizing Action for Boston Community Development for the well-being of the city’s youth through Brothers for Boston, which is an effort to bring disenfranchised communities together.

Chris has appeared on Black Entertainment Television; national news stations in Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands; and Great Britain’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). He has also appeared on local news and radio stations in the Boston area and has written or been the focus of articles for Banner, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Herald, and The Boston Globe. Chris was one of the 125 alumni featured in Wheelock College: 125 Years of Improving the Lives of Children and Families, which was published in celebration of the College’s 125th anniversary. Also, he was a panelist at Wheelock’s first youth symposium with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu and students from the Boston Public Schools and the College, helping to create SPARK the Truth, a youth-led community-action initiative that fosters positive changes in Boston and its schools. Also on the panel were former Gov. Deval Patrick and former news anchor the Rev. Liz Walker.

Chris has participated in many conferences, including those hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. Also, in his travels around the country, he has addressed audiences of young people and adults on the issues of anger management, life skills, social skills, mediation, and conflict resolution.

Chris was a Boston Mayoral candidate in the 2013 race, and is considering a 2017 run. He currently lives in Hyde Park, MA, with his best friend and wife of 20 years, along with his teenage daughter. His son, Chris, is a freshman in college.

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