Hi! I’m Chris.
On Sunday, September 27th, 2015, at the 20th Annual At-Home Dads Convention, I was honored to be selected by the Board of Directors of the National At-Home Dad Network to serve as the new President of the organization. Our illustrious leader of many years, Al Watts, has moved on from the position he held so ably, and what huge shoes he leaves to fill.
This role will include many challenges for me. And from the beginning I promise you that I will make mistakes. But I also promise you that I will give it my all. I ask for your support, both of myself, the new Board, and our various Committees. We will continue to look for ways to improve and grow this organization, to better serve not only those of you here among our community, but also the dads and families that don’t yet know that we exist. In the weeks leading up the the Convention, if there’s one thing the Board learned, it was that there are a large number of passionate dads out there who want to help us. We look forward to working with you all in the coming months and years.
Many of you know me pretty well, but for others I am at best a familiar face. For some I am someone completely new. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little more about myself, my journey to this position, and also share a little bit about my goals for the NAHDN this year… and beyond.
I am, in fact, Canadian. However I now live in Portland, Oregon, with my brilliant wife of almost 10 years, Anna (a biomedical engineer), and our two boys, Tucker (age 7) and Coltrane (age 4). My background is in web and graphic design, illustration, and animation. I went to film school, studying “Classical Animation” (that is, the 2-dimensional hand-drawn stuff, rather than CG animation) as well as spending a year as a vocal music major in university. A love of cartoons and singing? Yeah, I was made to be a dad.
I’ve been a full-time at-home dad since 2008, when Tucker was 8 months old, and for some time I wrote about my life in that role at my blog called Daddy Doctrines. In addition I am one of the organizers for PDX Dads Group, and recently released my first major children’s book, Sometimes You Need a Jellyfish, that I wrote and illustrated myself.
Joining the National At-Home Dad Network
I was lucky enough to become aware of the National At-Home Dad Network at a vitally important period in my time as a full-time stay-at-home dad.
Having been in the role of caregiver dad for only about a year, I was feeling very hard the all-too-common pains of isolation. Not having been able to find any other at-home dads in my community yet, and reeling from some harsh rejection by an organized moms group in the area, I was lonely and in need of someone to talk to about what I was doing, feeling, and experiencing.
And so I talked to myself, initially, by starting a blog and writing it all down.
Eventually my writing led me use the platform I’d built to call out what I saw as blatantly harmful negative depictions of fathers in the media, that I believe — and continue to believe — perpetuate stereotypes that are not only false, but harmful to families. Before long, I found myself becoming what I still call an “accidental activist,” who was welcomed — much to my amazement — into high-level conversations about modern fatherhood and what it looks like. There, I advocated for a more thoughtful approach by advertisers and brands to how they presented fathers, and both their important role and competency in every aspect of parenting.
An early partner in that advocacy was the NAHDN, who supported these efforts tremendously. For this I remain extremely grateful. But even more, I became grateful for the community the organization connected me to — guys like Al Watts, Chad Welch, Matt Schneider, Lance Somerfeld, Matt Peregoy, and the late Oren Miller. As the saying goes, I knew I’d “found my tribe.”
I attended my first Convention in Washington, DC, in 2012, as an invited panel speaker, discussing stay-at-home dads and the media. What I saw was an organization that I desperately wanted to be a part of, and when the time came to volunteer I offered my time and skills in any way they could be of use. With that background in web and graphic design I mentioned, was asked to help revamp and relaunch our website, and was later invited to temporarily fill a vacant seat on the Board of Directors until the next Convention. Months later, in Denver, the membership elected me officially, and I’ve served ever since, representing the organization as best I could.
Last year I took on added responsibility for our marketing efforts, overseeing a fantastic social media team, and expanding our community and reach online significantly. We’ve seen a lot of growth and it’s been exciting to be a part of it. I was particularly pleased to be able to meet with the entire Board in April for our first ever Board Retreat, where we hammered out a clear and concise Purpose Statement for the organization, that I believe will help guide everything we do in the years to come.
What do I envision for the next year, and beyond?
Here are my major goals this year and beyond (in no particular order):
- Improve communications to members, and utilization of committee members
- Broaden outreach to, and inclusion of, single, gay, and minority dads who are in caregiver role
- Upgrade, update, and improve our Local Dads Groups database and resources
- Develop a strategy for applying for available grants and endowments, to further the goals of the organization and expand our capabilities
- Establish a Community Ambassador program, to help dads across the country get connected to the NAHDN through active members in their area (more on this to come soon!)
- Continue to improve and expand the Convention, based on attendee feedback and lessons learned this year and previous years
- Continue to increase the reach, influence, and voice of the NAHDN and its members in media and policy conversations about modern fatherhood in general, and caregiver dads in particular
- Success with the first ever NAHDN Spring Fundraiser, the Run Dad Run! Virtual 5K Walk/Run
- Strengthen current strategic and sponsorship partnerships, and seek to establish new ones
On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you again for your support, and we look forward to serving you this year. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the entire Board of Directors at email@example.com.
President, National At-Home Dad Network