Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Promote Civic and Community Engagement


Building on a significant legacy of generosity and support to Washington University in St. Louis, business and civic leaders Maxine Clark and Bob Fox have committed $7.5 million for programs and facilities at the Brown School that will promote community engagement and bring sustained attention to significant policy issues in public education, public health, immigration, economic development, child well-being and other areas.

In recognition of their commitment, the university will rename the Brown School Policy Forum in their honor. It will be known as the Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Policy Institute.

In addition, a physical space in Thomas and Jennifer Hillman Hall, the new Brown School building to be dedicated this fall, will be named the Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Forum.

The couple is also providing $540,000 to advance the efforts of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement and its Civic Scholars Program. These contributions will fund an additional cohort of Civic Scholars, doubling the number of undergraduate students benefitting from the program. Over the course of their nine-year commitment, 72 students will be able to take part in the two-year program as Fox-Clark Civic Scholars, and will have an opportunity to pursue their passion for public service.

“We are truly grateful to Maxine and Bob for their vision to help advance the university’s commitment to public policy and community engagement,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Their generous gifts will establish a gathering place for members of the Brown School, the university and the greater St. Louis community, and will help open the doors of the Brown School to civic leaders, lawmakers and active citizens. Maxine and Bob are both active and effective in making our community stronger, and their gifts will enable current and future generations of students, faculty and staff to contribute to our community as well.”

The Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Forum will serve as a resource for members of the community and, through its unique design, will support both open conversation and public presentation. The new venue will play a central role in supporting the efforts of the Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Policy Institute, which works to ensure that the pathbreaking research being conducted by Brown School faculty is translated into effective policy and practice. The Clark-Fox Policy Institute will provide opportunities for students and engaged citizens to enhance their policy skills, as well as disseminate policy research, ideas and analysis to a broader audience.

“I cannot thank Maxine and Bob enough for their generous and thoughtful commitment to the Brown School and its mission,” said Edward F. Lawlor, PhD, dean of the Brown School and the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor. “While the Brown School has already expanded its reach and impact into the community, the Clark-Fox Policy Institute and the Clark-Fox Forum represent the next major step forward in that initiative, allowing faculty and community members to collaborate in more substantive ways. The forum will provide a unique resource for community collaboration, and the institute will be a vehicle for connecting research to policy.”

Hillman Hall, at approximately 105,000 gross square feet, more than doubles the teaching, research and program space for the Brown School on the Danforth Campus. Targeted for LEED Platinum certification, the building design emphasizes health and wellness, diversity, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. The building will open this summer and be dedicated Oct. 2.

About Maxine Clark and Bob Fox

Maxine Clark and Bob Fox have been close friends of Washington University for many years. They are sustaining charter members of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level and their support extends to a number of areas at the university, including the College Prep Program, entrepreneurship and the women’s basketball program.

Clark and Fox are dedicated volunteers for Washington University and for organizations across the region. The couple received the 2011 Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award, and each has been recognized with the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award. In 2015, Clark was honored for her leadership and civic contributions with awards from both the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation and the St. Louis Women of Achievement organization.

They share a passion for education, and are among the founding donors of Teach For America-St. Louis and the area’s KIPP charter schools.

Building on a highly successful retail career, in 1997 Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience with over 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores. In June 2013, she stepped down from her role as chief executive bear to apply her entrepreneurial skills to her passions – improving K-12 public education and encouraging and investing in women and minority entrepreneurs.

Clark is a trustee of Washington University and is a member of the Brown School National Council and the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship National Council.

She is a lifetime member of the Women’s Society of Washington University and serves on the Danforth Circle Committee for the William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

Fox is the owner and chief executive officer of NewSpace Inc. He founded the company in 1984, introducing the residential closet organizing business to the St. Louis region. Today, the company is also a contract furniture dealer and sells retail store fixtures nationwide.

In 2010, he founded Casa de Salud, a nonprofit health and wellness center that welcomes new immigrants out of isolation and into the community’s embrace – now supporting more than 12,000 patient visits annually.

Because of his work with the immigrant community, Fox was integral in establishing, and still serves with, the St. Louis Mosaic Project, which raises awareness of the positive economic development outcomes created by being a welcoming community for the foreign-born.

Fox is a trustee of Saint Louis University. For Washington University, he is a founding member of the Gephardt Institute’s National Council, where he mentors both Civic Scholars and Goldman Fellows.