By Eleiah Sexton
Richard M. Clarke knows how to make things work better from his decades of international experience in chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and man-made fibers. His philanthropic giving reflects that same ethos — improving the way our world works.
In an interview, Clarke — the Stimson Center’s 2017 Donor of the Year — reflected on lessons learned from his career as well as his philanthropic philosophy:
Q: How has your partnership with the Stimson Center been meaningful to you over the years?
A: My partnership with the employees and board members has been, and continues to be, one of the most enriching and rewarding activities within my adult life. Many past members of the Board and certainly quite a few employees of the organization have exposed me to and educated me on a wide-ranging series of programs involving critical issues for continuing improvement in the way our world functions. Without my involvement in Stimson, I would have missed the experience and the tremendous personal value of being part of a team providing meaningful information and solutions to a wide range of end users.
Q: What impact do you hope to achieve through your personal philanthropy?
A: As old age has crept up on me I can no longer undertake a physical presence in nonprofit organizations such as the Stimson Center, but fortunately I am able to donate financial funds with the intent of simply supporting the efforts of people who are committed to helping our world be a better place to have a safer, happier and healthier life. It is a tangible way for me to show my respect and admiration for all that they do.
Q: What advice would you give to others hoping to make a positive difference in the world today?
A: My advice to others who desire to help make a positive difference in our world today is perhaps simple to state but not always easy to do:
1) Be kind and patient with other people, listen to their opinions and learn from new points of view.
2) Firmly believe your personal effort, no matter how small, is important and will help make a positive difference.
3) Never give up, always keep trying to help in whatever way is available to you, make it a meaningful part of your life’s goals.
All of us at the Stimson Center are deeply grateful to Mr. Clarke for counting our work among his philanthropic priorities, and, more importantly, for sharing his wisdom with us for more than 20 years.
Congratulations, Mr. Clarke, on being named our 2017 Stimson Donor of the Year!
Eleiah Sexton is Development Manager at the nonpartisan Stimson Center.