Chris Harze

Vice President, Internal Audit

Walnut Creek, California

My parents immigrated to Canada from the island of Jamaica in the 1970s in order to build a better life for themselves. My mother, who was a payroll clerk in her home country, worked in Toronto cleaning hotel rooms for several years when she first arrived. My father left his bookkeeper position in Montego Bay to become a roadside trailer mechanic on the snowy highways of Ontario. While working, they were also going to night-school to obtain their accounting certifications. My mother earned her Certified General Accountant (CGA) designation 3 months before I was born.

I am the third of my parent’s three boys. During my elementary school years, my siblings and I spent our summers in Kingston, Jamaica in a home with my grandparents, three aunts, two uncles, great-grandaunt and great-grandmother (“Gran-gran”). During these summers, I was taught the fables of Anansi, played bare-foot soccer with members of the Marley family, and learnt to bake Jamaican patties in our bakery. I also learned how fortunate I was to have parents that sacrificed so much in order to live in a country where my siblings and I could be educated, safe from corruption, and be celebrated for our cultural differences.

I emigrated from Canada to the United States in 2005 with my wife and began growing our family in a city 25 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia – the birthplace of Martin Luther King. While living there, I gained an understanding of the diversity tensions felt by many southerners which increased my empathy for generations of Americans. I earned my MBA at Emory University in Georgia, then soon moved my family to California where my appreciation for diversity has continued to grow. When I joined the AAA family, I was excited to discover that my diverse experience, culture, and heritage was not only embraced as an asset, it has been celebrated.

"When I joined the AAA family, I was excited to discover that my diverse experience, culture, and heritage was not only embraced as an asset, it has been celebrated."