At 19-years-old, Chris J. Suggs is a nonprofit visionary, award-winning speaker, community leader, and entrepreneur.
Chris is the Founder & CEO of Kinston Teens, Inc., a nonprofit organization he started in October 2014 operating at the intersections of youth empowerment and community development. From transforming vacant lots into neighborhood amenities, to building platforms for young people to be involved in government and make their voices heard, Kinston Teens works to ensure that Chris’s peers and local community are both thriving. The organization coordinates voter registration efforts, leadership trainings, social events, and more initiatives for young people in Kinston, North Carolina.
Since August 2016, Chris has served as the youngest Commissioner on the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, the state advisory board to the Governor on issues relating to crime, justice, and law enforcement. In 2018, Chris was appointed to the NC Task Force on Safer Schools, the state board that advises policy and legislation to improve the safety of North Carolina’s schools and school communities.
Chris is also the Founder & CEO of Youth Impact Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in helping adults better impact the lives of young people, and young people better impact the world. Chris and his team have worked with nonprofits, churches, schools, and national political leaders on youth engagement strategy, social media, marketing, and more.
In April 2019, Chris represented his community and state when he testified before Congress in a hearing on our nation’s climate crisis. Chris’s hometown of Kinston and surrounding areas in Eastern North Carolina have been devastated by several floods and hurricanes in recent years, and Chris shared their story of resilience and advocated for funding and legislation to address climate change and flood mitigation efforts.
Chris is a champion for youth leadership and has worked to promote these important values on platforms and with companies such as Facebook, Nickelodeon, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room Campaign, CNN, NBC, ABC News 20/20, and The Huffington Post.
Chris is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Religious Studies. On campus, he serves as President of the UNC Black Student Movement—Carolina’s largest cultural organization.
National Television: Featured as a special guest on NBC’s daytime television talk show The Real (January 2016, April 2017), ABC News Digital’s 20/20 (August 2016), TV One’s News One Now (September 2016), appearance on CNN (October 2016), a special guest on HLN’s Michaela (October 2016), and as an honoree at the Nickelodeon HALO Awards (November 2016).
Local Television: Frequent appearances and interviews on: WCTI-12 (New Bern, NC); WNCT-9 (Greenville, NC); WITN-7 (Greenville, NC); Down East Today (Kinston, NC); The Reece Gardner Hour (Kinston, NC); Journey Magazine (Internet); and more.
Radio Appearances: Multiple appearances on 9 Kiss FM (New Bern, NC), 92.10 Choice FM (Raleigh, NC), 100.5 Surge FM (Duplin County, NC), Vyzion Radio (Raleigh, NC - Internet)
Awards & Recognitions
2016 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award – Recipient (March 2017)
2016 HALO Awards (Nickelodeon) – Honoree (November 2016)
2017 NC Heritage Calendar (AT&T) – Honoree (October 2016)
2015 Class of 20-Under-40 (The Free Press) - Recipient (February 2016)
2016 Global Teen Leader (We Are Family Foundation) - Recipient (December 2015)
Youth of the Year Award (NC Gang Investigators’ Association) – Recipient (August 2015)
Youth Leadership Award (Kinston Evening Rotary Club) – Honoree (July 2015)
Inaugural Emerging Leader Award (Young Professionals of Lenoir County) – Recipient (January 2015)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keeper of the Dream Award – Recipient (January 2015)
Kinston-Lenoir County Teens & Kids Who Care Award – Recipient (2012, 2013, 2014)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — 2017-2021
Sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Political Science & Religious Studies with an expected graduation with the Class of 2021. Recipient of the Carolina Scholarship; recipient of the Light on the Hill Scholarship; selected for the Honors Carolina program; and recipient of the Carolina Covenant scholarship. Secretary for UNC's Black Student Movement for the 2018-19 academic year, and President of the organization for the 2019-20 academic year.
Lenoir Community College — 2015-2017
Participant in the College & Career Promise College Pathways program, taking general education courses to transfer to a four-year college or university upon graduation from high school.
Kinston High School — 2014-2017
Honors-level student who graduated high school in three years instead of four. Officer in the Student Government Association, where he served as Freshman and Sophomore Class President for the Class of 2018. Additionally, represented the Class of 2018 as Freshmen and Sophomore Homecoming Prince for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years; and represented the Class of 2017 as a member of the Homecoming Court for the 2016-17 academic year.