Adren Wilson was appointed the fourth national CEO of Public Allies in August, 2014. Public Allies has advanced the leadership of more than 6,300 diverse young leaders to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation across the country since 1992.
Wilson, a native of rural Louisiana who himself grew up in extreme poverty, has held an escalating series of leadership positions as an organizer, activist, administrator, and reformer working to lift individuals, families, and communities out of poverty. Wilson most recently led workforce development and community college retention efforts as Gulf Coast Regional Director for Single Stop USA. Previously, he developed transformational leaders for public schools as Executive Director of New Leaders Greater New Orleans, worked to end persistent poverty in the South by leading the Equity and Inclusion Campaign, and trained thousands of young leaders to advocate for and serve the needs of vulnerable youth as National Director of Youth and Student Leadership at The Children’s Defense Fund.
From 2004-2008, Adren served both Democratic and Republican Governors as Assistant Secretary with the Louisiana Department of Social Services, where he led the Office of Family Support, which employed 3,000 people in providing services to families in need, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also served as Executive Director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet, and initiated policy reforms such as the passage of the first state-level Earned Income Tax Credit in the South.
Wilson earned a Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and he has a doctorate in Public Policy from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Southern University. He received Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from Louisiana State University. Adren is based in the Washington, D.C. office of Public Allies.
Cris has served as COO of Public Allies since 2007. She brought to Public Allies more than 20 years experience of executive leadership in the nonprofit, public and private sectors. Cris is a reformer who led state regulatory departments in Texas and Wisconsin, and served as COO of a regional nonprofit overseeing an $11 million budget and 400 employees working to improve foster care services in two states. She was a partner in a venture that invented “electronic benefit transfer cards” for distributing government benefits such as food stamps, a change that prevented fraud and enhanced the dignity of users. After the business was sold, Cris joined UPC Health Network, where she directed an $80 million business employing 350 workers in Wisconsin and Illinois. She started a respiratory therapy operation in Illinois that became the most profitable in its company.
Cris was an advisory board member of Scholastic, Inc.; has served as a vice chair of Wisconsin Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin, was an advisory board member of Public Allies Milwaukee, and has held several other volunteer roles. A cum laude graduate of the Philippine Normal College in Manila, Cris has a master's in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawaii.