Thomas Colloquium features Build-A-Bear founder

Maxine Clark, Build a Bear

Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear

Maxine Clark, founder and chief executive of Build-A-Bear Workshop, is the featured speaker at the Paul J. and Marguerite K. Thomas Colloquium on Free Enterprise 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, in Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown.

The lecture, started in 1981 from an endowment established by the Thomases, is free and open to the public, but tickets are mandatory and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets must be picked up between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Sept. 17 through 19 (or until they run out) at the Information and PC Lab in Kilcawley Center on the YSU campus. Tickets must be picked up in person. For more information, call the YSU Office of Alumni and Events at 330-941-3497.

In 1997, Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy bear themed, retail-entertainment experience. Today there are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Mexico, the Middle East and South America. The company extends its in-store interactive experience online with its award-winning virtual world at

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. She was named a Customer-Centered Leader in the 2005 Customer First Awards by Fast Company. Clark was also 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 the 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 2013 Build-A-Bear Workshop was named to the FORTUNE Best Companies to Work For list for the fifth year in a row.

In addition to her seat on the Build-A-Bear Workshop board, Clark is a member of the board of directors of Footlocker Inc., and is a former member of the board of directors of the J.C. Penney Co. Inc. She serves on the national Board of Trustees of Teach For America and the local St. Louis regional board, the National Board of, and the KETC Channel 9 – PBS board of directors. She and her husband, Bob Fox, are founding donors of KIPP Inspire Academy, and Clark is chair of the charter school advisory board of trustees. She serves on the board of trustees of Washington University in St. Louis and is also a member of the Committee of 200. Clark is a graduate of the University of Georgia, and she holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from Saint Louis University. In 2006, she published her first book, The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart.