36 | CITISCAPES | DECEMBER 2018 here are turning points on each of our journeys that change the trajectory of our lives. For Chris Slead, his first one came in 1996 when he learned his wife, Jenny, was expecting their first child. With a growing family, he realized he needed a career where he could provide well for them and so he re-enrolled in college and earned his business degree and then his MBA. A Fisherman’s Wharf key chain signaled the next turning point in his life. In 2000, Chris and Jenny were living in their hometown of St. Louis with daughter Emily and son Jack. Chris worked at Energizer Holding Inc.’s St. Louis headquarters when the company offered him a job in San Francisco. The couple struggled with the decision. “All of our friends were in St. Louis, Jenny’s parents lived one mile from us, my parents were six miles, my two sisters- in-law were both within a mile,” Chris remembers. To clear his mind, he went for a run. As he got back to the house, he saw something shiny on the sidewalk – a souvenir key chain from San Francisco’s famous tourist area, Fisherman’s Wharf. He and Jenny both saw it as a sign, and off they went to San Francisco. That move changed the trajectory of their family, because, without extended family to rely on, the four Sleads bonded with each other. “We moved to a tiny house, because it was San Francisco, and were right on top of one another. We symbolically and physically became a much smaller family. It was a defining moment, because everything became just the four of us.” The closeness continued as Energizer moved them to Ft. Worth and then to Tampa, each assignment lasting 18 months. Lots of adventures bonded the Sleads in Florida, but none more than teaching their kids to ski on Lake Tarpon – a lake with alligators. Locals regularly went tubing and skiing on the lake, even though gators lived in the shallows. “We’d ask the locals, ‘Is it safe? We want to teach our kids to ski and ride inner tubes.’ They’d say, ‘Oh yeah, you just stay away from the edges and don’t come at dawn or dusk.” Chris laughs, “It just seemed real cavalier to us because… those are alligators!” After Tampa, a role opened up on Energizer’s Walmart team and the Sleads put down roots in Bentonville for five years, growing to love the community and making great friends. Through their church, Chris and Jenny heard about kids in need and decided to adopt a baby. The entire family fell in love with baby Grace. “The first time you hold that baby, there’s no doubt that you made the right decision. They’re yours. There’s no difference in the amount of love you have for a child that was born to you, or a child you bring home through adoption. Grace has completed our family.” Grace’s adoption was a turning point for Emily, sparking an interest and, ultimately, a major in social work. A senior at the University of Arkansas, Emily hopes to help children find homes through foster care or adoption. In 2010, Energizer moved the Sleads back to St. Louis. After a few years, they realized their hearts were in Northwest Arkansas because it was where they’d spent the formative years of their kids’ lives. In 2015, the opportunity came for Chris to be Energizer Holdings Inc.’s director of sales for Walmart North America in Bentonville and the decision was easy. As Chris drove into town for the first time in a few years, he had a surprising and overwhelming feeling of coming home. “It’s the city we lived in the longest. My daughter Grace was born here. It’s where our kids were raised. This feels like home.” Reflecting on the turning points of their lives, Chris and Jenny believe that first move to San Francisco changed the trajectory of their lives and their last move back to Bentonville brought them home. INTERSECTION | BY NANCY PEEV Y Transplants & Natives TRANSPLANT FROM ST. LOUIS: Chris Slead T Jack, Emily, Chris with Grace, and Jenny at the Benton County Courthouse on Grace’s “gotcha day” of officially becoming a Slead, 2009. Jack, Chris, Jenny, Grace and Emily enjoying the lights on the Bentonville Square, 2017. The Sleads love any outdoor activity like snow skiing.