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FunTimes Magazine

Getting to know Hon. Chris Chaplin

Feb 26, 2024 10:00AM ● By Eric Nzeribe, M.S.

Hon. Christopher Chaplin Source: Consular Corps Association Philadelphia

Born into a Jamaican family that believed in public service, Christopher Chaplin's path was affected by his father, a journalist, and mother, a teacher. These early influences instilled in him a profound respect for education, communication, and service. Chaplin recalls: "I grew up in Jamaica, attended prep school at Alpha Prep and high school at St George's College, and went on to the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, where I studied engineering." His parents lived a life of service- helping others- which shaped Chaplin into a person who was always looking to contribute positively to his community. 

Career Journey

Chaplin's career is a study of adaptability and a drive to make significant impacts in various sectors. Initially embarking on a path in engineering, he quickly realized his passions lay elsewhere. "As an engineer, I worked at the Ministry of Construction... but I realized I had little interest in engineering." Chaplin openly shares about his early career redirection. His path took a fortuitous turn when he joined the banking sector, where he became instrumental in projects to revitalize Jamaica's economy. "I was part of a multidisciplinary team at Jamaica's central bank, the Bank of Jamaica... we would go out to all the factories, all the businesses, agricultural enterprises in Jamaica, to set up funding for them," he explains, detailing his transition from engineering to banking. 

This phase of his career allowed him to contribute to Jamaica's economic development and equipped him with a broad understanding of finance. He expanded his knowledge by earning an MBA from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and further honed his resume through significant roles in Jamaican and American financial institutions. Reflecting on his banking career in the U.S., Chaplin notes, "I worked for PNC Bank... I went through their credit training program and was part of their media lending team. So, we helped finance Comcast, Charter Communications, and Fox. Thus, I participated in the beginning transactions of some of the large corporations in the United States, and it was a great experience. Eventually, I segued into CDFIs, community development financial institutions, chartered to finance underserved communities in the United States." His career has been a testament to his belief in using finance as a tool for community development and empowerment.

Hon. Christopher Chaplin in China

Service as Honorary Consul 2019 

Chaplin's career took another distinguished turn when he was appointed Honorary Consul for Jamaica in Philadelphia. A dedication to the welfare of the African and Caribbean diaspora in the region has marked his tenure. "I think it first started with the 2010 census... that was a huge success," he states, highlighting one of his early community involvements that underscored the importance of representation.

His role further expanded in 2023 when he was elected President of the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia, which has a membership of eighty-two diplomats from across the globe. He was re-elected President in 2024.

Hon. Christopher Chaplin at Chief Tuazama award celebration in 2023. 

Chaplin's approach to his role is deeply personal, reflecting his upbringing: "One of the things that I point to is that... my parents were training me to be where I am now." His service extends beyond administrative duties to encompass a heartfelt commitment to assisting distressed nationals, advocating for equitable economic opportunities, and fostering a sense of community among the diaspora. "We have helped many people with passports and emergency travel certificates where necessary… During the pandemic, when the airports were closed, some Jamaicans were stranded and running out of money, food, and supplies, so we worked with several local organizations to assist them. We helped the Haitian refugees and got winter clothing for the women and children. What we do as consuls is to take care of our people."

He recounts: "We have assisted in the post-death care with some unfortunate deaths of Jamaicans here in the United States, and their remains needed to be shipped to Jamaica." Moreover, Chaplin is keen on providing financial insights to immigrants, emphasizing the importance of understanding and navigating the U.S. economic landscape. "The biggest thing... is the importance of your credit report," he advises, highlighting a critical aspect of financial literacy that can significantly impact one's life in the U.S.

Hon. Christopher Chaplin receiving the Chief Tuazama award in 2023. 

As a respected leader, Chaplin also actively encourages political and civic engagement within the diaspora. "Get involved and make your voice heard," he urges. "If there's one thing our ambassador, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, always says, as soon as you can become a citizen, or the day you are eligible to, please do so. I still remember the day I became a citizen. It enables you to vote, one of the most significant ways to get involved in the political process. 

Hon. Chris Chaplin's work, embodying a blend of service, leadership, and advocacy, inspires and impacts the lives of many in Philadelphia's African and Caribbean communities.

 Eric John Nzeribe is the Publisher of FunTimes Magazine and has a demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry since 1992. His interests include using data to understand and solve social issues, narrative stories, digital marketing, community engagement, and online/print journalism features. Nzeribe is a social media and communication professional with certificates in Digital Media for Social Impact from the University of Pennsylvania, Digital Strategies for Business: Leading the Next-Generation Enterprise from Columbia University, and Master of Science (MS) in Publication Management from Drexel University.

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