DC Recap: Changemaker Chat with Peggy Clark

Peggy ClarkThe March  theme was IMPACT, and over the course of our Chat with Peggy Clark, we got to know how she blends her passion for impact with her personal life, her professional life and all in between. And, will anyone ever forget the story of Peggy and her fish earrings?

As the Vice President of Policy Programs, Executive Director of Aspen Global Health and Development, and Director of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise at The Aspen Institute, Peggy opened up about her life and career transitions, which have spanned prestigious posts in foundations and nonprofits. Evident by her more than 30 years of work on global issues with Save the Children, Ford Foundation, Realizing Rights, and The Aspen Institute, Peggy’s life and work path, driven in pursuit of social impact, is a true inspiration.

“There is only one you – don’t ever diminish your strengths or contributions,” said Peggy. Here are just a few takeaways.

  • Blending your passion with your daily life. Your proudest moments may come when you are the first to stand up. Peggy recounted a moment earlier in her career when she felt something was ‘dead wrong’ and was the first person to speak to it. It’s these moments that may make the biggest impact… and often they are tied to something you are passionate about. Don’t shortchange your passion, and don’t be afraid to speak to it in professional settings.
  • Leading with head and heart. When thinking about leadership, we all need to craft our own style. Throughout her career, Peggy has incorporated head and heart into her leadership style, making space for empathy – even when tough decisions need to be made. There’s no one size fits all leadership strategy, and we need to be authentic to who we are in how we lead. Peggy spoke to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and some of the unique criticisms Hillary Clinton is facing on a daily basis because of her gender. For those of you who haven’t seen it, check out her articlehere which touches on it.
  • Work/life balance. You can have it all… but perhaps not at the same time. Peggy shared stories of her personal life – ranging from her strong relationship with her daughter (and always picking up her calls!) to her husband (and dogs – we’re big on dogs at Changemaker Chats DC). Peggy spoke to her experiences raising her daughter as a single mom, which resonated with many in the room and sparked further conversation.
  • Just Ask. We’ll all have difficult experiences professionally at some point in our lives. When it happens, seek the help from mentors (just ask was the lesson here!) and make space to carve out your own space. Try to stick with it.

Peggy closed the Chat by sharing her wish for women in the room, which in part was stressing the power of groups like Changemaker Chats to speak about hard topics – especially in a  town like DC.

Now, with that, let’s keep this going! Stay tuned for an April happy hour and the next Changemaker Chat in May!

Thanks Peggy for your thoughtfulness and commitment to being a Changemaker. We can’t wait to see you all soon.