CEO / Co-Founder
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”.
Chair / Co-Founder
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.
CFO / COO
Tina Klocke, a St. Louis native, serves at the Foundation as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer. She is an accomplished finance and operations C-Level executive with a distinguished career and a record of success in the start-up and leadership of public and private corporations generating $30 million to $500 million in annual revenues. Hired during the start-up of Build-A-Bear Workshop as one of three original full-time employees, Tina is highly respected for helping Build-A-Bear Workshop become a leader in the retail make-your-own stuffed animal business. She excels at developing and advancing organizational strategy to spearhead revenue, profitability, and enterprise growth.
Since stepping down from her roles of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Build-A-Bear Workshop in 2014, Tina has continued to make an impact on the St. Louis region. She is a mentor for Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator where she uses her professional skills and experience to help budding businesses towards success. She has continued her mentoring past the accelerator program, such as she did with Bandura Systems now serving as an Advisor. She serves on a variety of boards supporting state and local educational institutions including Central Institute for the Deaf. She is the Chair of the Advisory Board for Cor Jesu Academy, where she is an Alumna, and serves on the board for St. John Vianney High School where both of her children have attended. She serves on the Southeast Missouri State University Foundation Board in service to the University where she graduated with her B.S. In Business Administration, and received the Alumni Association Merit Award in 2009. Other honors and awards include being named one of the 25 Most Influential Women by the Business Journal in 2007, and various industry specific recognitions.
Senior Programs Manager
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.
Assistant Programs Manager
Samantha was born and raised in Iowa. She attended the University of Iowa, where she received her Bachelor’s of Social Work and minored in Spanish. During her studies at Iowa, Samantha worked as the Specialized Immigration Legal Advocate at the Domestic Violence Intervention Program and spent her summers working with Upward Bound, a college access program. Immediately after graduating, Samantha spent two years living and working in South Texas first with The Cesar Chavez Foundation as an Americorps VISTA and then as a counselor at a women’s health clinic. Samantha then moved to St. Louis in order to obtain her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis.
During her Masters program, Samantha worked at Casa de Salud as a Referral Coordinator. Upon graduation Samantha worked for the International Institute providing social work services to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) migrating primarily from Central America and Mexico. Immediately prior to coming to The Clark-Fox Family Foundation Samantha worked for the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund as a Program Associate, helping to support a portfolio of non-profit organizations.
Samantha currently volunteers with FOCUS St. Louis and the MICA Project and is always looking for ways to get further involved in the community. She is excited to join The Clark-Fox Family Foundation team as the Assistant Programs Manager where she hopes to contribute to the research and community support work taking place.
Kerrie Murray is originally from Illinois, growing up in a rural farming community. In college during the summers she ran a park program for children 5 -16 years old. After receiving her degree in Healthcare Management from SIU Carbondale, she worked as a marketing coordinator for a physical, occupational and speech therapy company.
Kerrie then moved to St. Louis and has held several office and administrative jobs. She spent over ten years working in academics and student services working with both graduate and undergraduate students. In that capacity, she helped students with tutoring, course planning, career planning and financial aid. She was also in charge of the first- year student experience that helped high school students transition to college.
When the opportunity to work for the Clark Fox Family Foundation, Kerrie jumped at the opportunity to transition once again. She actively supports the operations and goals of the foundation.
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.