A familiar face to the organization joined GSBA in January 2022 as the Director of Scholarship & Education. Chris Kuhel (he/him) is excited to provide leadership and passion to an already successful program, the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund, which provides multi-faceted support to post-secondary LGBTQ+ students.
You may recognize Chris from his past six years of volunteering with GSBA at events, presenting awards to scholars, as a GSBA Ambassador, keynote speaker at EQUALUX - TASTE of GSBA in 2017, as well as a scholarship interviewer. He first connected with the organization as a GSBA Scholar in 1995.
Chris was born in Hawaii and moved to Troutdale, Oregon, when he was two years old. Growing up in a small town was already difficult, but then his family moved to Auburn, Washington in his 9th grade year. He began at that time to learn that he was gay, but he was not fully out. During high school, he was actively involved with the forensics team, where he competed in cross-examination debates throughout the country and mentored novice students to prepare them for tournaments. Upon graduating and sharing the highest honor at Auburn Senior High School, Student of the Year, he continued his passion for helping students by serving as the Assistant Debate Coach and judge at competitions.
While in community college at Green River in Auburn, he worked on campus as a Leadership Associate and oversaw the clubs and organizations. Before departing to the University of Washington in 1995, he received the Social Science Division Award and the Leadership Award at commencement. The summer of 1995 was of great significance for Chris as he became a GSBA Scholar, which he credits to this day for helping him come out to his peers, family, and friends.
The summers of 1993-1995, he worked in Seattle for the environmental and consumer protection non-profit WashPIRG as a canvasser, field manager, and an assistance campaign director. In 1996, he started his 25-year federal government career with the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a student intern.
Chris graduated from the University of Washington in 1997 with a BA in Sociology. He led a prestigious and highly-decorated career at SSA, with 19 years in management and supervision, including Area Director for Washington and Alaska. Through his tenure, he visited and helped influence all the offices in the region which also included Idaho and Oregon. Every day, he knew he was making a difference with the most vulnerable among us including the elderly, disabled, low-income, widowed, and children. September 2021, Chris took an early retirement from SSA to begin his next chapter in life.
While not at work, Chris enjoys living in Fremont with his cat Mochi. His interests include photography, traveling, camping, plant-based cooking, and getting outside as much as possible - as he loves the Pacific Northwest. If you’d like to connect with Chris and provide your ideas for advancing the GSBA Scholarship and Education Fund’s impact, please contact him here!