Products and Services That

Spark a Change

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The Leadership of The Chill Station, Inc.

Chester A. France Jr., Chairman, Board of Directors

Chester A. France, Jr. is a Certified Life Coach (CLC), Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master Social Work (MSW), and Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS).

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Mr. France is also the president and founder of The C. Whitney Group, LLC, which was established to provide Fundraising Resource Development and Organizational Capacity Building consultation to institutional and community-based nonprofit organizations. He has more than 35 years of professional experience in sales, sales training, and management in the for-profit sector.

In the following 15 years, Mr. France has provided management and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, particularly in the faith-based community, to include establishing several nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporations. He has served on the faculty of the Office of Education and Training for Addictions Services (OETAS), State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

Educational Background

Mr. France is a graduate of Morgan State University with a degree in Business and Marketing. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Howard University School of Divinity and is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work with a Management and Community Organization concentration.

He is also a 1999 graduate of the Summer Leadership Institute for Church-based Community and Economic Development sponsored by the Harvard University Divinity School, Center for the Study of Values in Public Life.

Chris Wilson, Board Member 

Born and raised in Washington, DC, Chris grew up under extremely difficult circumstances. Poverty, drug addiction, and gun violence were part of the everyday norm in his community. At the age of 17, he was charged with a crime, convicted, and sentenced to natural life in prison.

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Born and raised in Washington, DC, Chris grew up under extremely difficult circumstances. Poverty, drug addiction, and gun violence were part of the everyday norm in his community. At the age of 17, he was charged with a crime, convicted, and sentenced to natural life in prison.

It was during times of isolation that he decided to not only turn his life around but to make a difference in the lives of people who currently live in poverty-stricken communities similar to his childhood surroundings as well.

Many years ago, I committed my life to self-improvement and helping others. I sat in a dark cell and wrote what I now call my Master Plan. A plan to build a business empire and help others.

Educational Background 

While imprisoned, he earned his high school diploma, graduated from all of the vocational shops, and earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Sociology from Anne Arundel Community College. He taught himself to speak and write in several foreign languages. He became a mentor, started a career center and a book club. After serving 16 years in prison, he has returned to society a changed man.

Professional Background 

Chris now resides in Baltimore City and is the owner and founder of the Barclay Investment Company, a multi-service social enterprise, specializing in residential and commercial contracting work. His other business ventures include The House of DaVinci, a high-end furniture restoration and design company, and Master Plan Productions, a social impact content development company.

Dr. Michael B. Marks, Ph.D.

Dr. Michael B. Marks will lead the evaluation for GRA. He has more than 35 years of experience in senior-level administration, public policy and advocacy, research and evaluation and direct social service positions primarily in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, and youth development.

Among his areas of expertise is working with communities and organizations to develop and evaluate innovative community strategies, which are designed to enhance permanency, family connections, and social capital.

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He is also an expert in asset/wealth building for youth and families involved in the justice and child welfare systems and for adults re-entering communities after time spent in prison. Other areas of interest and expertise include:

  • Community/Restorative Justice Practices and Capacity Building
  • Organizational Restructuring in Support of Innovation Fostering
  • Peer-Based Services
  • Public/Private Organizational and Systems Collaboration Including Faith AND Business Communities
  • Workforce Capacity-Building
  • Youth Engagement and Leadership

Professional Background

Dr. Marks served as Chief Development Officer and National Director for Research with Youth Advocate Programs, Inc., (YAP). YAP is the largest multi-state organization in the nation, which sole mission is providing community alternatives to residential, detention, corrections, and psychiatric hospitalization services for high-risk and proven-risk young people and their families. YAP’s innovative model of service combines elements of mentoring, case management, family support, positive youth development, and wraparound.

Dr. Marks also served as Deputy Executive director of the Seaman’s Society for Children and Families in New York City and Director of Social Services policy at the New York-based Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA).


Dr. Hari P. Close, II is an ordain minister, presently Administrative Pastor of New Union Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He is married to the former Gwen G. Latimore, and the father of children Travis, Hari 3rd, A’lan, Ariana and grandfather of Azaria, Amirah and Rihari. He has extensive skills in “Hands On” training specializing in Networking, Management & Professional Development, Organizational Dynamic, Human Relations Skills; Marketing and Hotel Training are just a few.

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Dr. Close is license Funeral Director & Mortician in the states of Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 

He is the owner of HARI P. CLOSE FUNERAL SERVICE, P.A. in Maryland. He was formerly employed in various executive level opportunities at Joseph H. Brown, Jr. & William C. Brown Funeral Homes, as President and CEO of Close & Associates, Inc. – an international Marketing and Management

consulting firm (a preeminent source in various field of Association and Meeting Management), as Executive Director/Federal Lobbyist of the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association, Inc. and Pre-Opening Marketing

Director for Sheraton Corp. / ITT


Doctor of Divinity; MA, Master of Theology; MA Master of Religion Education; BA, Religious Studies, Eastern Theological Seminary(TRAC),

Lynchburg, VA; MS, Finance Courses, Auburn University, Montgomery, AL; BS, Business ADM./Economics, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, AL, AA,

Mortuary Science, Community College of Baltimore County (Catonsville).

Professional Background 

National Planning Committee of NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., National Baptist Convention USA, Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, American Society of Association Executives, National Urban League, National Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association, and Professor, University of Maryland and Baltimore County Community College at Catonsville.

Board Membership

National Vice-President of National Funeral Directors and Mortician Association, President, International Conference Board of Funeral Examining Boards, President, State Board of Morticians & Funeral Directors of Maryland Trustee, Tuskegee University; NBE Liaison Committee, America Board of Funeral Service Education; Professional Policy, Executive Council – Big Brothers/Sisters; and Chairman/President Funeral Directors & Morticians Association of Maryland.

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