Grady College awards dean’s medal to Build-A-Bear Workshop® CEO Clark

UGA’s Grady College awards dean’s medal to Build-A-Bear Workshop® CEO Clark

Athens, Ga. – Maxine Clark, founder and chief executive bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop, has been awarded the Dean’s Medal for Communication Leadership from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Clark, a 1971 advertising alumna of the Grady College, was honored at a ceremony in St. Louis on Sept. 9. Grady Dean E. Culpepper Clark presented the award and noted that “Maxine is one of branding’s true innovators, a credit to the media professions we prepare students to enter and a leader in creative thinking about how to build audiences and inspire loyalty from the inside out.”

The Grady College Dean’s Medal was established in 2007 to honor an alumnus who plays a significant role in a communication event that rises to the status of case study in one of the journalism and mass communication disciplines. “Case studies bring interesting, real-world situations into the classroom and Maxine Clark’s role in marketing communication warrants commendation and further study by advertising and public relations students,” noted Clark.

He continued, “The Build-A-Bear Workshop story provides a case study in brand creation, development and extension in a way that enriches the marketplace with insightful, effective and responsible communication. Maxine’s career, her reputation in the industry for creating a singular entertainment brand, her very invention of Build-A-Bear Workshop, her grasp of the communication dynamics of children’s media-all offer touchstones for anyone with the heart to take a business dream forward. “

Since the company’s inception in 1997, Clark has been chief executive bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. and has served as chairman of its board of directors since conversion to a corporation in April 2000. From November 1992 until January 1996, Clark was the president of Payless ShoeSource, Inc.

After graduating from the Grady College and prior to joining Payless ShoeSource, she spent over 19 years in various divisions of The May Department Stores Company in areas including merchandise development, merchandise planning, merchandise research, marketing and product development.

Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. During her 30-year career, her ability to spot emerging retail and merchandising trends and her insight into the desires of the American consumer have generated growth for retail leaders, including department store, discount and specialty stores.

Today there are more than 385 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Build-A-Bear Workshop extended its in-store interactive experience online in 2007 with the launch of its virtual world at buildabearville.comTM.

In 2008, Clark was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Retailing by Chain Store Age; in 2006, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame and received the 2006 Luminary Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement from the Committee of 200, a leading organization for women entrepreneurs around the world. She was named a Customer-Centered Leader in the 2005 Customer First Awards by Fast Company.

Clark was named one of the Wonder Women of Toys by Playthings magazine and Women in Toys, and was also one of the National Finalists in Retail for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. In 2005, the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies made Build-A-Bear Workshop Portfolio Company of the Year, it was named one of the International Council of Shopping Centers “Hottest Retailers of 2004,” and the Retail Innovator of the Year for 2001 by the National Retail Federation.

A member of the board of directors of the J.C. Penney Company, Inc., Clark also serves as chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee. She is a member of the boards of trustees of Barnes Jewish Hospital, Washington University in St. Louis and her alma mater, the University of Georgia. She is on the board of directors of St. Louis Public Broadcast Station KETC. She is also a chair of Teach for America-St. Louis, a member of the Teach For America National Board, and a member of the Committee of 200.

In 2006, her first book The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart was published by Wiley.

“One of my favorite concepts from Maxine’s book is her idea of ‘giving forward,’ rather than giving back,” noted Dean Clark. “Maxine gives forward not only with her generous work with students and her deep interest in media education, but in that she understands that marketing is education that inspires confidence and action. She educates every day through her communication with employees, customers and the industry. In her own words, she is about what is pawsible, not what isnot.”

Clark served as Grady’s inaugural W. Ronald Lane Executive-in-Residence in Advertising in March of this year. Lane was one of Maxine’sfavorite advertisingprofessors at UGA, which Maxine noted, “made that visit to UGA extra special.” She last visited campus on Aug. 2 when she delivered the Summer Commencement address to UGA graduates.

The first Grady College Dean’s Medal was awarded to Tim Mapes, vice president of marketing for Delta Air Lines, in 2007 for his role in internal and external branding for the company.

Established in 1915, UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, visit http://www.grady.uga.edu/.


Note to editors: A photo of Clark is available by contacting Wendy Jones at 706/542-6927 or wfjones@uga.edu.