The Clark-Fox Policy Institute, housed in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, was founded through the generosity of Maxine Clark and Bob Fox. In 2016, a strategic planning committee was formed and charged with developing the mission, vision, and goals of the institute. With the facilitation of Rebecca Bennet, founder of Emerging Wisdom, the committee solidified the mission of the institute to advance social and economic justice by working collaboratively to connect policy solutions to public awareness, practitioner training, and policy decision-making.

Gary Parker, Bob Fox, Maxine Clark, and Mary McKay in an inaugural photo for The Clark-Fox Policy Institute in 2017

Additionally, the committee established the following goals for the institute: provide exceptional training in policy practice that prepares Brown School students for distinguished service and leadership in the field; maintain a trans-disciplinary network of scholars whose collaborations produce game-changing research and thought-leadership on critical policy issues; undertake meaningful public engagement that involves invested, impacted, and interested community stakeholders in the advancement of effective policy solutions and practices; and support the continuous improvement of social systems and structures that impact community well-being.

Gary Parker, Director of the Clark-Fox Institute speaks in Clark-Fox Forum in Hillman Hall

In April 2017, the institute launched with Gary Parker as the inaugural director and Atia Thurman as the associate director. Parker and Thurman leaned into the institute’s vision of working towards a more just and equitable world in which policy solutions are effective, impactful, and innovative. They worked diligently to develop sustainable community partnerships with internal and external stakeholders across the St. Louis region. Through these invaluable relationships, the institute amplifies social movements by supporting community-led organizing campaigns and employing an equity lens in all its work. Additionally, the institute offers a wide range of practica, training, and webinars geared towards increasing knowledge and skill-building to support policy practitioners who are committed to advancing health, economic, and social justice, and dismantling racism and all forms of oppression.

In September 2022, the Clark-Fox Policy Institute concluded a community-engaged strategic planning process to guide the institute forward for the next five years and beyond. Through that process, the institute’s mission and vision have been updated to reflect the priorities of community partners and numerous stakeholders.

Mary McKay, Dean emeritus of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, hosted a conversation sponsored by the Clark-Fox Policy Institute with Gary Parker, Director of the Clark-Fox Institute, talking with City of St. Louis Deputy Mayor for Racial Equity and Priority Initiatives Nicole Hudson, at McKay’s home in Clayton, Mo. Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Photo by Sid Hastings / WUSTL Photos