Changing the World: Christopher Reed-Waddell ’07 serves during crises

Christopher Reed-Waddell ’07 took an early interest in making the world a better place. At Ripon, he majored in communication and philosophy, and he later received a master’s degree in public administration from University of Colorado Denver.

As a Ripon student, Christopher went to New Orleans with classmates several times to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina. This turned into an ongoing professional interest in emergency management.

“This inspired me to seek positions where I could help people in crisis,” he says.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in 2009-2010, he taught secondary school English in the village of Makinsk in the Republic of Kazakhstan. He taught classes to fourth- through 11th-graders and ran after-school activities – “which really means anything from watching American movies to helping students prepare for university entrance exams,” Reed-Waddell says.

“Ripon really prepared me to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Ripon challenged me to take risks and to make commitments. There were always plenty of opportunities for leadership, service or just to try something new. The Peace Corps is really a combination of the three, a long way away from home.”

He also has worked as a grant writer for the Social Development Commission and then as a FEMA Corps unit leader with the Corporation for National and Community Service. He oversaw emergency management service projects in 19 states and the District of Columbia, including 17 federally declared disasters.

At Ripon, he first learned about careers with the Department of State during political science courses. He now is a Foreign Service officer posted to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, as a consular officer.

“The interest in emergency management I developed at Ripon continued to be a recurring thread in my career,” Reed-Waddell says. “I spent the opening days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine guiding American citizens and their families to safety in Poland. This included a deployment to the U.S. Embassy’s Welcome Center at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Przemysl to give information and direct assistance to evacuating Americans. And I drew heavily on my experiences during my first tour in Shenyang, China, during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.”

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Chris Reed-Waddell, Ripon College Class of 2007