Agents of Impact | September 24, 2021

Cathy Clark, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

David Bank
ImpactAlpha Editor

David Bank

ImpactAlpha, Sept. 24 – Before she herself began teaching 20 years ago, Cathy Clark helped her father run a summer program in Philadelphia that gave low-income, mostly immigrant high school students a taste of college. Her father had been a union negotiator and civil rights activist before a community college English teacher.

“Only a decade later did I realize he was, in fact, a social entrepreneur,” Clark says. “My social consciousness comes from him.”

Her father paid it forward in Clark, who as faculty director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Fuqua, estimates she has influenced the careers of more than 100,000 learners. Clark and CASE’s Impact Investing Initiative, or i3, have been key field builders, pushing out hundreds of partnerships, fellows, case studies and reports. When Covid hit last year, Clark stepped up quickly with Covid Cap, a database to help entrepreneurs, nonprofits and businesses find grants, loans and cash help to weather the pandemic.

Most recently, Clark, with the UN Development Programme, created a free online training to help enterprises and investors measure and manage their progress toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Clark will preview the course in a special workshop on ImpactAlpha’s Agents of Impact Call No. 31 on Tuesday, Sept. 28 (rsvp).

In a world where many investors still think they call the shots, Clark has remained a champion of the entrepreneurs who actually deliver the impact. Her online training, Smart Impact Capital, helps founders and business owners align investment capital with the needs of their own enterprises, not the other way around.

Clark says her focus is on developing the mindsets, tools, markets, policies, and practices to drive social and environmental impact at scale. She’s proudest of the impact she has had on her students, who are making change across sectors and geographies. “They inspire me!” she says.

“I love that I get to support young professionals as they are arming themselves with new skills and deciding where in the world to aim them. You could say my theory of change is to create, well, Agents of Impact.”