Chris Zannetos has founded three technology and cybersecurity companies in Massachusetts. He also worked to start a nonprofit called STEMatchMA to provide STEM opportunities to marginalized communities.
What should high school students know about your platform?
I am very focused on making the investments in education to make the opportunities of our 21st century economy more available to everyone in all sorts of different ways. Our country has a contract with all of us that if we work hard [and] get educated, we’ll get a good job [and] have an opportunity to build a good life. And I think a lot of people don’t believe that’s possible anymore. In fact, almost half the people in the U.S. don’t believe in the American Dream anymore.
A lot of that’s due to the cost of education. My focus is going to be on making it more accessible to people who can’t afford four-year college degrees, can’t afford actually spending four years out of the workforce or who maybe have a different path, a one to two year path, to get into great jobs. I’m focused very heavily on bringing companies together with educational institutions, particularly community colleges, to make those opportunities more available to everybody.
How has your campaign been impacted by the coronavirus? What challenges and opportunities have you encountered?
Compared to the challenges that everybody else faces, they’re pretty minimal. Obviously, it’s hard because we can’t meet people.
I do come from the high tech world; I’m an entrepreneur; I’ve started three companies in the tech area. I’m comfortable with the technology, but nothing beats actually being out and talking to people and hearing what they have to say and understanding their challenges, so I think the real challenge is in the connection.
I’m biking through every town and meeting with people who are running small, family-owned businesses to understand the challenges that they’re facing and helping them understand how they can get access to services. It’s giving us an opportunity to be more creative for how we actually get out there and see people.
How would your background in technology make you a good fit to represent this congressional district?
We’re in the middle of a great transformation of our society, and your generation has had to deal with a lot of change and disruption. A lot of it is driven because of the fact that we’ve been transforming to this sort of technology-driven, post-industrial society, and it creates great opportunities. We can see what’s happening around the world; we can communicate with people to organize protests really easily to fight for social justice, like we’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks.
We need more people down in Congress who understand the technology that’s driving the world, that know actually how to create jobs in this economy, the growth jobs so that the middle class and people from lower-income backgrounds don’t keep on falling behind, and so we don’t see this concentration of wealth just at the top in the economy only helping people at the top.
I’ve started a nonprofit that brings companies to work with middle schools and community colleges to make the opportunities of STEM education more available to people who’ve been marginalized. That’s the sort of experience we need down there to enable the government to understand what to do because right now, it’s pretty clear we’ve got a huge lack of leadership down in Washington.
To learn more about Chris Zannetos, visit https://www.chriszforma.com/.