This is one of 12 finalists for The Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders awards for 2022. The winner will be named at an event on April 27.
Chris Dingle, 30
Community liaison for U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen
Chris Dingle’s company designed, sourced and manufactured gifts and promotional items for Alaska’s tourism industry.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, the scourge temporarily suspended many tourist activities.
Business fell off a cliff and Dingle was suddenly out of a job.
Until that point, he had been a “proud business owner” and an entrepreneur, convinced that the path to success lay in expanding his company.
“COVID-19 illustrated to me the hubris of that assumption,” Dingle said.
Like many others affected by the pandemic, he found himself unemployed and directionless, unsure of the next step.
Dingle made two decisions. He joined the Washington National Guard and he decided to seek work in politics and government.
Rather than quit or complain when the pandemic completely shut down his business, “he utilized his skills to lift up those around him who were suffering far worse,” an Emerging Leaders nominator wrote. “As is his generosity, he has gladly volunteered his time with local nonprofits and his home city of Everett — ever a champion of those in need.”
Joining the National Guard offered him the opportunity to contribute, Dingle said.
“I realized that if my community was in need, I wanted to be on call, so I raised my hand and took my oath.” Dingle said.
“This has been one of the best choices I have ever made,” Dingle said. “I am constantly humbled by the backgrounds, skills and commitment of the men and women that I serve with.”
Dingle’s first job in the political realm was managing a state House of Representatives primary campaign, in which he oversaw more than 50 volunteers. That was followed by a state House campaign in the general election.
During the 2020-21 legislative session in Olympia, he became an aide for Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
He was promoted to caucus staff assistant, reporting to the House Democratic Caucus. He worked with a redistricting team and the caucus tribal liaison to identify the redistricting preferences and relevant treaty rights of the state’s tribal communities.
A colleague and nominator took notice of Dingle’s efforts. “This past year Washington’s electoral congressional and legislative maps went through a once-a-decade-redistricting process. Christopher stepped in when a member of our House Democratic Caucus team had to step out for health reasons. He organized, sat in on meetings with stakeholders and assisted with research over tribal community preferences.”
Dingle is now a community liaison, specializing in military and veteran issues for U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett.
He also serves on the Everett’s Citizens Advisory Board, which offers recommendations for federal, state and municipal dollars allocated to community organizations.
The annual Emerging Leaders award by The Herald Business Journal seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. This year’s partners in the award are HeraldMedia, Leadership Snohomish County, Leadership Launch and Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Co-sponsors are Gaffney Construction, Inflection Wealth Management and the Port of Everett.