TWO TRUTHS ABOUT ME AND A LIE: (1) I auditioned to be London Tipton’s cousin. (2) I can lucid dream: Controlling myself, others, and my surroundings. (3) I broke my toe when it got stuck in a motorcycle wheel when I was backpacking in Colombia. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: Pretty much anything, I think I have a low bar for humor. It makes the world a sunnier place :)
Helping others become the best version of themselves
CREATING SOCIAL IMPACT AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL. Chris Wang always wanted her work to have a social impact, but wasn’t sure how she would make that happen. “I think when most people think about building a company around mental health or illness they think about modernizing clinical services or creating pipelines. What we learned after talking to everyone we could reach was this constant thread of loneliness—especially during the pandemic,” she says.
Along with her co-founders Jon Wang and Vikram Sreedhar, Chris Wang created Shimmer, an online community in which individuals share their unique and interconnected identities, personalities, struggles, and goals.
Shimmer sought to address the lack of diverse care modalities in the mental health community. “In our research, we’ve discovered that in the United States and Canada, almost 80% of mental health practitioners are cis, White and over the ago of 50. For young adults, diverse adults as well as Asians, Black people, Latinx, and the queer community, that’s a silent struggle. It adds yet another layer of misunderstanding or feeling of separation. So that helped inform how we structured the platform.” On Shimmer, individuals opt-in to groups, based on their identity or mental health challenge and are matched with people experiencing similar mental health challenges or issues, and find freedom in building a community.
LOCATING THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN THE PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL. For Chris, Shimmer fulfills both personal and practical needs. Like her co-founders, the topic of mental health hits close to home. “As far back as high school, I had my own health and mental health struggles. I’d fixate on things I couldn’t change. I was lucky to have a network around me, friends especially, who were strong feedback loops and confidants who could talk to me directly about my behaviors, but also their own.” These early experiences informed what Shimmer would become.
Chris previously worked in the management consulting and financial technology sector, noting that she “always had this cultural and internal need, this push, to focus on practical things like mathematics, banking, private equity,” but while in that field, “it never felt right—it never felt like enough.” While that time in her career did give her the chance to observe traditional models of business, it did not speak to her desire to have social impact.
So Chris branched out. She became acquainted with organizations like the United Way in Canada, and got a crash course in how community development, equity, and organizational design intersected to change and impact lives.
She notes that “there is a homogeneous quality to community building, right? And that’s great in some ways, but I also wanted to explore the layers of intersectionality that are experienced by people of color, queer people, different nationalities. This means building our own sense of culture in ways that can create real social change, true social impact. In ways that grow inclusivity, using tech.”
Chris believes that tech, uniquely, has the power to connect like-minded people who seek connection. “Shimmer draws people out of their corners and into spaces with those who also want to engage, learn, grow, share. They’re not forced to talk to one kind of person because that’s what’s only available or traditional. It’s life changing.”
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