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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Meet Our Fellows: Gary Christopherson

Fellow Spotlight

By: Gary Christopherson

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1. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in government and now in art advocacy?

What inspired me to pursue a government career was all the issues that government was failing to positively and completely address. My view was that with better planning, management, leadership and execution many more issues would be addressed successfully. What I found was another issue – how to best solve large systemic issues at the community, country and global levels. This why I was in government and why I left government. Art advocacy is another means to argue for and bring about large systemic change. Both by addressing the problems needing solutions and by addressing the need for a better, thriving future and how to achieve that future. Art advocacy reaches even more people and provides a different and attractive perspective for solving problems and building a thriving future.

2. What is your favorite class you have ever taken and why?

There are three. Building ideal systems in a business school class. Achieving large positive change in a political science class. Achieving a positive philosophy at the personal and global levels in a philosophy class.

3. What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in art advocacy?

As you will be tempted to shift to more “craft art” to provide food and shelter, make sure you preserve time and energy to continue the most creative parts of creating art. In the end, the most important art is that which produces the most creative art and advocates for creating a better, thriving future.

4. What is an issue or concept that you are passionate about addressing through your art?

Clearly, it is avoiding a very bad ending to our human existence and, instead, building a thriving future for all – humans, other creatures and Earth.

5. If you could have dinner with 3 people, who would they be and why?

Plato, because he whose challenge me to think. Alexander Calder, because he would help me get better at creating sculpture. Greta Thunberg and 5 of her favorite young people, because if there is a thriving future, it will be up to them.

6. What is your favorite cuisine?

It is less a particular cuisine than the making of very creative foods that are both healthy and challenge the taste buds.

7. What is your favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy doing in your free time?

In what little free time I have, I created a public park on my property, donated to the Village of Nelson to be a public park, continue to maintain it and meet and talk with the people who come to experience a rustic park on the sides and tops of Mississippi River bluffs.

8. What is the best movie you have seen?

Tough call. Casablanca is clearly one because of the acting and the dialogue. The other is 2001 – A Space Odyssey is clearly one because if challenges in many ways to think about the future and humans’ role in that future.

9. Who in your life has been an influential mentor or inspiration for you?

One of my favorites was Arthur Flemming, former secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. As he and I got to know each other, he showed me that it is not about the politics but about the mission to do the greater good.

10. What was your dream job as a child?

There was not particular job. It was clearly about how could I do good and what career would help me achieve that good.

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About Gary Christopherson

Throughout his career, he worked on building a thriving and surviving future, health and human services and reducing vulnerability. He develops strategy and tools for building a thriving future for all.

This work can be seen at,, and He wrote public policy books including Thrive! Endeavor® - All Thrive Forever; Thrive!® - People’s Guide To A Thriving Future [For All Forever]; Thrive!® - Building a Thriving Future; and HealthePeople – Achieving Healthy People, Communities, Countries and World.

His public service includes: Associate Director, Presidential Personnel, Executive Office of the President, White House; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; Senior Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Senior Fellow, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences; Chief Information Officer (CIO), Veterans Health Administration; and Director of Health Legislation, House Select Committee on Aging, U.S. House of Representatives. He served as member of the Senior Executive Service. He is an elected Senior Fellow of National Academy of Public Administration.

As GChris, he is a sculptor of abstract art creating over 200 sculptures, working in wood and copper. GChris sculpture is mission-driven toward reducing vulnerability and building a thriving future for all forever. His Studio/Gallery is in an historic 1880s house and barn on a Mississippi River bluffside in Nelson, WI. Previously, his GChris Sculpture Studio/Gallery was in Georgetown, DC and University Park, MD.

He wrote science fiction novels The Thrive! Endeavor, Extinction! – The Failure to Thrive, Thrive! – Escape from Extinction, and black box and children’s books Angel, Creator of Artful Things and T!rrific [terrific] - What will you do to thrive? He wrote the sculpture and thought book, Thrive! Sculpture & Thought.

He endowed the Thrive! Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and donated his Mississippi River bluff land for Thrive! Park.

He lives in the Village of Nelson, WI and lived in University Park, MD in the greater Washington DC area. He graduated from University of Wisconsin (Madison) with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. He also studied toward a doctoral degree at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (Baltimore, MD).

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