Alumni Profile: Chris Ridley
His last semester at Patrick Henry, Chris Ridley (Public Policy, ’07) found himself with a new wife, a new baby on the way, and no paying internship. Thankfully, some scrambling in the alumni network soon landed him a place at the Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS). PHC alumna Stephanie Terek, who works for the Department of Labor (DoL), gave Ridley an additional boost with key recommendations. Now he serves the Secretary of the DoL as a member of the speechwriting team.
“Some days I research an event or speech; some days I’m editing correspondence and writing; and some days I’m rushing to get a speech delivered to the Secretary moments before she steps up to the podium,” he relates.
Ridley is currently prepping for law school, or possibly for graduate school with a focus on economics. As for PHC, he says, “the rigorous academics helped me to demand excellence of myself in all areas of my life.” The head of speechwriting, who made the final decision to hire Ridley, cited his education as the reason to pick him instead of qualified applicants with higher GPAs. Also, the PHC reputation helped in tangible ways. During his interview at the White House, the interviewer remarked that he attended church with PHC students.
“Those PHC kids are great people,” said the interviewer. “They love God and they love this country, and if you are anything like they are, you are exactly the kind of person that this administration is looking for.”
Says Ridley, “Being associated with PHC has done nothing but help my career.”
Ridley senses a call to serve his community and the larger culture as a leader, but he “will let God decide whether that is by working as a lawyer, a legislator, or a businessman.”
“Who knows,” he shrugs. “Maybe He has something totally different in store for me.”
Alum Chris Ridley Elected to Public Office
December 1st, 2011
By a five-percent margin in a local election on November 8th, PHC graduate Chris Ridley (Government: Public Policy, ‘07) won a city council seat in Napoleon, OH, becoming what many believe to be the first PHC graduate to be elected to office.
“This was the first campaign I've run, in addition to being the first time I've run as a candidate,” he said. “I knocked on doors every night and weekend for about eight weeks, placed yard signs and had some well-timed radio and newspaper advertisements.”
The effort helped Ridley beat out a long-time incumbent.
“It was a close race,” he said. “There were four candidates running for three open seats. Two of the candidates were long-time incumbents, and the other was a prominent figure in the community with significant name recognition -- I was the underdog.”
In his long history of public service, serving as a city councilman is only the next chapter in Ridley’s journey beyond the PHC campus.
“I feel called by God to be involved in the public sector in some form or another -- to be a leader ‘For Christ and for Liberty,’” he said.
During his time at PHC, he interned with the Department of Labor and secured a full-time appointment after graduation, with the help of Stephanie Terek, another PHC alum. When the Obama administration came in, Ridley and his wife moved back to his hometown in Ohio. A statewide prison ministry hired Ridley to teach healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood curriculum to incarcerated fathers. Ridley currently serves as the Operations Manager.
“I love my job, because I get to incorporate my faith, my education and my passion into solving a tremendous social problem,” he said.
As a city council member in Napoleon, OH, Ridley also now has an opportunity to have an active hand in serving the city through leadership.
“In local government you are really connected to the people, and the impact of decisions you make happens right in front of you,” he said. “Council members oversee the City Manager and play a larger role in the executive functions of city government, including police, fire departments, streets, sewer and water, and downtown developments.”
Ridley credits PHC for preparing and motivating him to serve on City Council.
“PHC helped me develop the ability to critically analyze the issues and form a cohesive and compelling platform for myself. It gave me experience arguing and defending my positions and convincing voters to agree with me. It also gave me a strong philosophical grounding for governing well and ingrained in me the purpose for government,” Ridley said.
“PHC gave me motivation to run hard, knowing the hard work, drive and accomplishments I've seen first hand among my fellow PHC grads. We work hard and we set the bar high, and I kept that in the forefront of my mind. Finally, knowing the hard work and investment that the professors and PHC staff put into me was a huge motivation to not let them down.”
Ridley will take his place on the council in January, 2012, the next step on his path of servant-leadership.
“In whatever I do, I want to be a leader who has a positive impact on those around him in a way that ultimately brings glory to God. I could do that in a variety of different arenas.”