Founded in 2004, the Clark-Fox Family Foundation supports the economic development of the St. Louis metropolitan region through program development and investments in K-12, higher education, public health, immigration, social justice, community leadership, and entrepreneurship. The Foundation prioritizes programs and investments that empower the end user and leverage each other for greater impact for our children and in our community.
Founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop
CEO, Clark-Fox Family Foundation
Chair, Build-A-Bear Foundation
Maxine Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. During her 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. In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. Today there are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide. Cumulative sales have exceeded $5 billion and over 140 million stuffed animals have been sold world-wide. In June 2013, Maxine stepped down from her Chief Executive Bear role to apply her entrepreneurial skills to her passion for improving K-12 public education and encouraging and investing in women and minority entrepreneurs such as Goldie Blox, myEDmatch.com, Wondermento and St. Frank. Maxine is also a Managing Partner of Prosper Women’s Capital, a St. Louis based fund created to invest in women owned businesses in the St. Louis area and a member of the Board of Advisers of Lewis & Clark Ventures, a St. Louis based private equity firm.
In 2008, Maxine 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. Maxine 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 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. In 2015 Build-A-Bear Workshop was named to the FORTUNE Best Companies to Work For® list for the seventh year in a row.
In addition to her seat on the Build-A-Bear Workshop Board, Maxine is a member of the Board of Directors of Footlocker, Inc. and Gymboree. Maxine serves on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Washington University in St. Louis as well as the Board of Directors of Beyond Housing and Parents As Teachers. Maxine serves on the national Board of Trustees of Teach For America and the local St. Louis regional board, the National Board of Donorschoose.org and the KETC Channel 9 – PBS Board of Directors where she is Board Chair. She and her husband Bob Fox are founding donors of KIPP Inspire Academy and Maxine is the former chair of the charter school advisory Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Committee of 200.
Maxine is a graduate of the University of Georgia, and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint Louis University as well as an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. In 2006, she published her first book “The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart”.
Founder, NewSpace, Inc.
Founder, Casa de Salud
A native of St. Louis, Bob served in The United States Air Force from 1962 to 1966. He graduated with a B.S. in Business and Economics from Drury University in 1968 and received his MBA from Saint Louis University in 1976. Bob has served on the Board of Trustees of Saint Louis University since 2006. In 2005 Bob and Maxine created the Clark-Fox Family Foundation to support the St. Louis community in areas vital to equity, regional growth, and prosperity.
Bob serves on the Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations Advisory Board and is a founding member of the Gephardt National Council for Civic and Community Engagement at Washington University where he personally mentors both Civic Scholars and Goldman Fellows. He also serves on the Education Committee of the St. Louis Zoo Foundation.
Bob is the founder and Chair of the Board of Casa de Salud, a not-for-profit health and wellness center that welcomes new immigrants out of isolation and into the embrace of the community. It opened its doors in January of 2010 and today serves more than 12,000 patient visits annually.
Bob is the Founding Chair of the Board of inspireSTL a not-for-profit educational initiative started in 2011. inspireSTL identifies bright, socio-economically challenged, middle school children in urban underperforming schools, helps them with preparation and access to the finest college prep high schools in the region, tutors and mentors them through high school and college with the goal of bringing them back to their communities as transformational leaders. He also serves on the external advisory board of the SLPS Collegiate High School for Medicine and Bio-Science.
Bob serves on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Taskforce on Immigration for the Midwest. In 2012 he was instrumental in establishing and still serves on the steering committee of the St. Louis Regional Taskforce on Immigration and Innovation which launched The St. Louis Mosaic Project in 2013. Its mission is to increase the foreign-born population in the St. Louis region so that by 2020 it has the fastest growing immigrant population of any major metropolitan area in the country. He also serves as an advisor to the board of Welcoming America a national organization based in Atlanta that helps hundreds of communities all over America develop and maintain robust immigrant welcoming programs.
Bob received the inaugural St. Louis Harvard Club Community Service Award in 2010. In 2011 he received the Hispanic Leaders Group Premio Esperanza – Hope Award given to the individual in the region who has brought the most positive recognition and honor to the Hispanic community. He is the recipient of the 2011 St. Louis Award given to “the resident of metropolitan St. Louis who has contributed the most outstanding services for its development or…shall have performed such services as to bring great honor to the community.” In 2012 he received the St. Louis World Trade Center’s Global Ambassador Award and was inducted into the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University Smurfit-Stone Entrepreneurial Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2014 he received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri Distinguished Humanitarian Award.
Allie Cicotte is a native of St. Louis and serves as the Programs Manager for the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and Project Manager for Blueprint4SummerSTL. She graduated from Truman State University in 2011 with bachelor’s degrees in German and Spanish. Allie then joined Teach for America where she taught Kindergarten-8th grade Spanish, and then transitioned to teaching Kindergarten. While teaching, she loved working with students directly, integrating innovative approaches alongside traditional classroom curriculum, and learning new things about the educational landscape both nationally and in St. Louis.
During this time, she also got involved with a local non-profit organization where she serves on the Board called The Disruption Department. The Disruption Department is developing a pipeline for high-tech talent in St. Louis by offering the opportunity for every student in St. Louis to become a Maker. To be a Maker is to be a problem solver, a critical thinker, a techie, and one who appreciates the process of creating a prototype, testing, and implementing feedback into your design is just as important as the final product.
She saw a bigger opportunity to support families, schools, and students through work with The Clark-Fox Family Foundation. In her role as Programs Manager she seeks to create products and programs designed to create better experiences for all constituents, higher engagement, and successful children in the community.
La’Shawn Thomas was born and raised in New York City, NY. She earned her degree in Elementary Education from the City University of New York, but she did not begin her career in education right away. She spent some time in the corporate world writing ad copy, advocating for patients, doing medical coding, to name a few, but something was missing. La’Shawn decided to pack her bags and move to Atlanta, GA (not knowing anyone there) in 2000 to pursue a career in education. She joined Drew Charter School, a Blue Ribbon school in Atlanta as a first grade teacher where she taught for 2 years.
After spending some time working with her husband’s custom home building business Derrick Inc. as a PR Manager and home decorator, she later went back to teaching and joined Confluence Academy Old North where she taught for 8 years and aided her students in making 1.2 years gains in both reading and math. La’Shawn Thomas is an educator who is committed to providing learning opportunities for children, by any means necessary! This was apparent when you walked by her classroom. Her energy kept her students engaged and her creative side allowed for incorporating music and movement into her lessons. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear a song the class created about the writing process or witness a dance created to help with counting. Helping people students become life-long learners was her passion!
La’Shawn has transitioned out of the classroom and is exploring ways to still aid students in under-served communities. She has joined the team at Blueprint4SummerSTL where she serves as Programs Associate. To her surprise, she is still able to service children in under-served communities by helping to provide a service that connects students and families to summer opportunities.