Having served as the leader of multiple community action organizations, Mary Schoen-Clark has been willing to take on enormous responsibilities in order to improve the lives of others. She has dedicated her life to improving food distribution for the impoverished, improving facilities for women at risk, and supporting a variety of solar power projects. She has a traditional business educational background and experience with massive budgets and huge numbers of employees. This helps her run philanthropic organizations like businesses. This makes her an atypical model as both an executive and an activist. Her combination of the two has enriched the lives of thousands in Iowa and Oregon.
Mary Schoen-Clark’s last position was as the CEO of Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA), a post in which she oversaw 180 staff members and a budget of over $9 million. Taking these tools and utilizing them with the efficiency of a top executive, she founded a variety of important initiatives and projects. This includes the South Coast Food Share, and the Early Head Start initiative. Using her management skills, she found ways to properly distribute 2 million pounds of food through the Food Share, and Head Start provided resources to nearly 500 at-risk youth. These efforts had a direct and positive impact on the lives of Coastal Oregon residents.
Mary Schoen-Clark’s rise to prominence among community action leaders begins with her educational experience. She was initially enrolled for training as an EMT at Portland Community College. From there, she moved on to Oregon State University, where she got more of a traditional social work degree with a Bachelor of Science, focusing on childhood development and family life.. She was a focused scholar, and graduated among the top of her class with honors.
After graduating, it was clear that she was going to spend her life helping others.
Once she had experienced a couple of years as a working professional, she began to see the benefit of a more traditional business degree. While leading a MidAmerica Housing Partnership Mary completed her mini MBA with Saint Ambrose University In addition to her MBA, Mary Schoen-Clark also sought to further cement her abilities as a leader through continuing education. Three years after her MBA, she received her certificate in consensus decision-making and meeting facilitation from the Cambridge Institute. While not the normal path for a community activist, these educational experiences would prove invaluable as she took on major roles throughout her career.
Since much of her family was involved in the real estate industry, she was familiar with the concepts, but wanted to focus her professional pursuits on helping others. As such, she was the founder of the MidAmerica Housing Partnership, proving that she would use her business acumen to enrich the lives of other. As the CEO, Mary Schoen-Clark started the Partnership as a nonprofit, but under her leadership it eventually grew into a fully-fledged corporation. It offered a huge variety of services and products, including construction, planning, and property management. A good deal of this success stemmed from her executive instincts and ability to forge a large number of business partnerships across all sectors of the industry. While acting as the CEO, she was awarded the Terry Duvernay Award from the National Community Development Association, and she also attracted enough attention to earn an appointment to the Governor’s task force on housing.
Leaving the Partnership in good hands after growing it from the ground up, Mary Schoen-Clark moved on to the Mercy Housing project in 2002. Serving as the regional president for three years, she systematically identified the needs of the surrounding community and led her team to creating a variety of solutions. She expanded Mercy’s reach into Indianapolis, and also built a 65-unit housing facility which provided shelter to elderly individuals. Showing once again her knack for business partnerships, she formed an alliance with an Indianapolis hospital, providing them with various consulting services.
Moving on in 2006 to become the CEO of Oregon Coast Community Action, she led their community action efforts for six years. While leading ORCCA, she was in charge of a staff of 180 and a budget of 9 million dollars. Her efforts to expand the services and capabilities of the organization were largely successful, and her experience as an executive was particularly useful for the foundation of the Emergency Assistance Program, Head Start, and the South Coast Food Share. These three programs make up the bulk of her legacy with ORCCA, and all supplemented the livelihood of coastal residents in different ways. The Emergency Assistance Program help 3,000 families enduring undue hardship pay their utilities bills, and provided 160 families with emergency housing annually. The South Coast Food Share managed to get 2 million pounds of donated food to the people who needed it, spread across two large counties. Head start was also successful in giving educational resources to 450 at-risk youth. These three programs owe their success to Mary Schoen-Clarks ability to mix business smarts and charitable instincts.
In addition to her three primary projects at ORCCA, Mary Schoen-Clark also oversaw a variety of additional new projects and buildings. The Child and Family Resource Center is an example. Ms Schoen-Clark was very successful at generating grants, loans, tax credit subsidy for a ambitious and much needed project with a great outcome for Coos Bay. She brought together a team of architects, contractors and other professionals by using the experience she had gained in affordable housing. The end result was a new regional food bank distribution center and a child and family resource center, including a new Head Start Facility, as well as the economic impacts of the project with a over all budget of $13 million dollars. Mary's ability to understand and manage complex financial matters and a diverse team contributed the leadership that the project needed to succeed.
Mary Schoen-Clark was also responsible for overseeing the Jane’s House Women’s Safety and Resource Center Shelter, which was the only facility of its type available in the Coastal Oregon area. These types of shelters are incredibly important for women, as they provide a place for individuals or families who need to break free from abusive relationships or situations to go. She was also responsible for providing the community with a $1 million economic boost through a partnership with Sol Coast Consulting and Design. With them, ORCCA was able to offer solar power options to the community, creating jobs and helping the environment.
While not every community service leader has Mary’s skill set or business-driven strategies, she has proven that they can be incredibly effective when it comes to leading charitable organizations. Community activism and work requires a set of skills that actual lines up neatly with that of a traditional business executive. Requiring that coordinators have incredible managerial capacities, skill when it comes to the allocation of resources, and unrivaled organizational abilities, the perquisite traits are quite similar. Because of this, Mary has managed to pursue her goal of spending her professional life helping others with unusual success. Her education was a boon to her pursuits, and because of it Mary Schoen-Clark is one of the finest community action leaders in the country.
Having already successfully served as the CEO of multiple charitable institutions, Mary Schoen-Clark has proven that traditional business skills can be applied to community action initiatives. Everything from her resource allocation skills to her capacity to properly manage and distribute a budget for a variety of needy programs has shown that Mary can take on the most difficult leadership roles. Being an executive and being a community service leader often requires that an individual make tough choices. Because of her education and her experience in leading both corporations and nonprofits, Mary is uniquely qualified to manage the high-pressure responsibilities that come with community organization. Her resume as a CEO spans almost 15 years and demonstrates what can happen when business thinking is brought to philanthropic organizations. Her successes will undoubtedly keep her services in high demand, and there are plenty of institutions that could use her expertise.
In addition to her proven skills in business and philanthropy, she has shown the community activist world what can happen when institutions make strategic partnerships. Throughout her career she has formed connections with hospitals, corporations, energy companies, and even the Government to increase the efficacy of her organizations. This is a habit of an effective CEO, and regardless of whether she’s working in a for-profit or nonprofit organization, she has shown she should be counted among the best. Moving forward, it’s hard to guess where she might wind up, particularly when one considers her incredible list of accomplishments thus far. Regardless of who selects her to lead their organization next, Mary Schoen-Clark will bring her true dedication to improving the lives of others.