Christopher D. James?
New Jersey Democratic State Committee
Christopher James learned the meaning of public service from his mother, the late Maxine James. As a child, he often was at her side when she worked for the late Congressman Donald M. Payne Sr., the first African-American elected to Congress from New Jersey. ?She took me to council meetings, campaign rallies, community meetings, and taught me the true role of government: to be the voice for the voiceless. She would say that if government is done correctly, it can change a person?s life,? James recalls. ??
Much later, James was mentored by stalwarts in state and federal government, such as Payne himself, Essex County Democratic Chairman the late Phillip Thigpen, New Jersey State Democratic Chairman John Currie, and New Jersey Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver. In his more than 18 years in government, policymaking and community organizing, he served as district director and chief of staff to Oliver, and currently as executive director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee chaired by Currie. ?While in these positions, I was able to help improve the quality of life for many New Jerseyans,? he affirms.?
Now, as a councilman representing the city of East Orange, he continues the fight to change lives. ?As an African-American male who grew up in the projects of the city of Newark, I take pride in where I came from and the decision I made to work my way up and out. What I?ve learned from where I?ve been drives me to work harder and to never forget that there are still those who can?t or have not found a way out,? James says.
James is the past president of the New Jersey Young Democrats, a former chair of Young Democrats of America States Presidents Association, and currently the Eastern regional chair for the Association of Democratic State Executive Directors.