Making a difference motivates Chris Wahl

Chris Wahl is president of Southwest Strategies, a San Diego-based public affairs and public relations firm. He specializes in helping clients secure land-use and regulatory approvals for controversial projects. Wahl also serves as a media spokesman for clients dealing with high-profile and controversial issues.

In 2009, Wahl was named a “Mover to Watch” by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine. The same publication also named Wahl one of the top 40 professionals in San Diego under 40 in 2005. He is active in the community, volunteering for a number of local organizations and causes. He is president of the San Diego chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and a committee member of the San Diego Bowl Game Association.

He lives in Bird Rock in a recently remodeled house with his wife, Jennifer, and three kids - Lucas, Tyler and Stella. He is a graduate of UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

What brought you to La Jolla?

My wife is from San Diego, and when I visited her and her family during college, I thought to myself, “San Diego is the place to I want to live, and if I could somehow make La Jolla work, I’d be the luckiest person ever.” That was 1994. We moved to La Jolla in 1999, and have lived here ever since.

What makes La Jolla special to you?

A few things really stand out. The small-town feel, the walkability of Bird Rock and the Village and, of course, the beach and the lifestyle that goes with it.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I would add my own personal parking spot in the La Jolla Shores lot and replace the old Bully’s in Bird Rock with a Rubio’s.

Who or what inspires you?

The men and women that serve our country inspire me to take nothing for granted. Making a difference for my clients motivates me to come to work each day.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Assuming my wife makes the cut because she’s my wife, here are the eight …
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Joan of Arc
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Edward P. “Doc” Whelan (my great-grandfather)
  • Tiger Woods
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Nefertiti

What are you currently reading?

Anything written by Mitch Albom. “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” (just finished) really moved me to think about life in a different way.

What is your most prized possession?

Probably my new house, but without my family, it wouldn’t mean much.

What do you do for fun?

Root for the Dallas Cowboys, play with my kids, go out to dinner with my wife, attend Padres games and sneak in a round or two at Torrey Pines.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

From a professional standpoint, it would be playing a role in the approvals of the UTC shopping center expansion and SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, especially given the opposition to both projects. From a personal standpoint, there is no doubt it’s being a father to my kids.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

The glass is always half full, and life is only bound by your creativity.