Chris Preston began serving as New Hanover County’s Community Justice Services Director on October 8, 2019, after serving as interim director since July of this year. He joined the county in 2009 as a licensed clinical therapist working with at risk youth. He became a licensed clinical therapist supervisor in 2010 and was promoted to youth empowerment services division manager in 2012, where he served until being named the director in 2019.
Chris began his career as a staff psychologist with Southeastern Center for Mental Health working with seriously and persistently mentally ill adult clients with a co-occurring substance use diagnosis. He then began working with court-involved youth as an onsite behavioral health treatment provider at the Office of Juvenile Justice, conducting court ordered evaluations and treatment of adjudicated youth. He continued working in community mental health before coming to the county, gaining experience as a managed care utilization review specialist and substance abuse services liaison to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
Before becoming Community Justice Services Director, Chris managed a range of intervention and prevention services provided to at-risk and court-involved youth that coincided with significant reductions in the local juvenile recidivism rate. He is driven to lead a group of dedicated professionals in an effort to continually be innovative in providing solution-focused approaches to serving the at-risk youth and adults of New Hanover County.
Chris received a B.A. in Psychology from East Carolina University and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is a graduate of the UNCW/NHC SERVE Professional Development Academy, and UNCW’s Academy for Strategic Management.
Outside of his work, Chris enjoys playing in local tennis leagues and spending time with his wife and son.