Chris Henderson is a senior research engineer and head of the technology applications branch at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in Atlanta. He lives in Kennesaw with wife Danielle, who was his high school sweetheart, and daughters Emma and Abby, both now in high school. He has served on Kennesaw City Council since 2018. Henderson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering as well as a Master of Business Administration degree at Mercer.
Here are five things to know about Henderson:
1. His work helps keep service members safe.
At GTRI, Henderson leads a team of computer engineers and computer scientists in the Electronics System Lab. They design systems that test the electronic warfare components of military aircraft before they are in the air. They are able to simulate flight engagements with threats to see how the equipment responds so that necessary changes can be made prior to being deployed on the aircraft.
“The job that I do helps keep our planes and our helicopters in the air. Ultimately, that helps bring home our brave men and women in the air. It motivates me daily,” he said.
2. He once was an introvert.
Henderson said he was very introverted in high school, but he broke out of his shell as an orientation assistant at Mercer. That program forced him outside his comfort zone as he helped freshmen acclimate to college life and taught a University 101 course.
He gained technical skills and career knowledge at Mercer, but he also learned vital people skills. Lambda Chi fraternity instilled principles in him that he still lives by today.
3. He felt called to give back.
“I’ve been blessed with a pretty fortunate life, and I felt this calling to give back,” Henderson said. “I’m the first in my family to go to college and leave town, and I’ve been able to be reasonably successful. I feel like you’ve got to pay back to others around you.”
He thought he could make a positive impact and bring a level head to the Kennesaw City Council, so he ran in the 2017 election and won.
He’s most proud to be involved in a project to build a new recreation center for the city. He’s on the design committee, and plans should move forward soon. The rec center is something that will make a difference in the community for decades, he said.
4. He walked the walk and talked the talk.
Before the 2017 election, “I walked every street in the city of Kennesaw and knocked on all the doors of people who had voted in one of the last four elections. I had 800-plus conversations at people’s doors letting them know who I was,” he said.
It was a wild and unbelievable experience for Henderson, as he met people and made memories on the campaign trail. He plans to run for re-election in 2021.
5. Mercer changed him for the better.
“Mercer is a place of growth and evolution. If you fully participate in the college experience and try to make the most of your time there, there’s no chance that you’re going to leave Mercer the same as you entered. And that’s a good thing. It changed me substantially for the better,” Henderson said. “For the engineers, hang in there. It’s a bumpy ride to the finish, but it will be worth it in the end. For the business majors and future politicians, the biggest advice I would give is just be true to yourself and be willing to listen. Honesty is what helps you build strong relationships. Those relationships go a lot further than you’d ever expect them to take you.”