Venture For America Appoints Maxine Clark to its National Board of Directors

Venture For America, a national nonprofit and two-year fellowship program for recent college graduates pursuing careers in entrepreneurship, has announced the appointment of Maxine ClarkBuild-A-Bear Workshop® founder, CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation, and Chief Inspirator of the Delmar DivINe™ as the newest member of its national board of directors.

Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear-themed retail-entertainment experience, and under her leadership, it became a publicly traded company on the NYSE in 2004. Today, Build-A-Bear boasts more than 500 stores worldwide, with more than 250 million stuffed animals sold globally.

Upon stepping down from her role as Chief Executive Bear in 2013, she embarked on a mission to empower women and minority entrepreneurs while using her entrepreneurial skills to create opportunities for St. Louis families. Her latest venture, the Delmar DivINe™, transformed the historic St. Luke’s Hospital in the St. Louis West End into a multi-use real estate development, which opened its doors in late 2021.

“I look forward to joining the Venture For America national board of directors,” Clark said. “The organization’s mission of promoting entrepreneurship and serving as an onramp to the experience for historically underrepresented groups can make a substantial impact across the country and closely reflects the work I’m carrying out with Delmar in St. Louis. I’m eager to contribute my insights and experiences to help early-career professionals access the limitless potential of their entrepreneurial ambitions.”

Clark is recognized not only for her business accomplishments but also for her dedication to education and community engagement. She’s an active member of the Build-A-Bear Workshop Board of Directors, a past member of Footlocker, Inc.’s board of directors, and serves as an Emeritus member of the Washington University Board of Trustees, and of Goldfarb School of Nursing. In recognition of her contributions, Clark was named to the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame in 2017 and was honored as Women of the Year by the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation in 2015.

“Maxine’s exceptional leadership and commitment to community and entrepreneurship align perfectly with our company’s vision, mission, and values,” said Venture For America CEO Eric Somerville. “We’re confident that her guidance and expertise will be invaluable as we navigate the weeks, days, months, and years to come.”

Late last year, Venture For America announced that its annual Alumni Reunion would be held in St. Louis in 2024. The program attracts hundreds of attendees and provides alumni of VFA’s fellowship with an opportunity to reconnect, celebrate their achievements, and explore a city. This partnership will further bolster relationships between VFA and the St. Louis community.

About Venture For America

Venture For America (VFA) is a national nonprofit organization designed to create entrepreneurial opportunities for early-career professionals. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Detroit, VFA is a two-year paid Fellowship program that helps its Fellows find job opportunities at startups in cities across the United States. Through its Fellowship, VFA serves as an on-ramp to entrepreneurship by providing Fellows with coaching, connections, and community. The nonprofit is committed to ensuring those who have been historically excluded, especially women and people of color, see themselves as future startup leaders or founders. For more information visit