Tim Clark’s career resume is a varied one, with positions in education, nonprofits, real estate development, music festivals and even as a professional vocalist. At first, such experiences appear somewhat unrelated, but looking closer one sees a common thread running through all of them.
“I chase common good,” he said. “I really think, as a country, we are playing with fire right now as we’re moving away from what’s good for the common good of humanity, whatever way you look at it. That’s been one of the characteristics that I think has really anchored me and helped me navigate this thing called life.
“I’ve been diagnosed as a whole-brainer and it tells me who I am that I can look at both sides and find a way to navigate from there to find the common good for humanity and for community. One of the questions in common that attracts me to a lot of the things I’ve been doing is, ‘How do we create the best?’”
MAKING AN IMPACT
Clark had already made his mark on his hometown with roles through the YMCA and in the office of former Omaha Mayor P.J. Morgan when he was named a Midlands Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree in 2004, and he hasn’t slowed down in the time since. From there, he’s held positions with the Greater Omaha Chamber; was CEO of Clark Connection Group, the event management firm for the Omaha Riverfront Jazz & Blues Festival from 2004 to 2010; and executive director of Love’s Jazz and Arts Center from 2011 to 2017.
Also in 2011, he began hosting his own television show, Heartland Focus,” something that continues to this day. He most recently took a role as manager of community relations with Metropolitan Community College and also has his own development company, Collective Impact Group, not to mention an armload of community service and volunteer positions held along the way, a few of which have included Girls, Inc.,
100 Black Men of Omaha and NorthStar Foundation.
“I think building strong relationships and understanding the value of
relationships is key,” he said to describe his far-flung professional experiences. “When relationships are meaningful, they bring opportunity. Good relationships attract good opportunities and good deals. I think that connects you to the whole in terms of people.”
Audrey Hulsey, travel advisor with Pegasus Travel in Omaha, said in the 30 years she has known Clark, his ability to make and maintain relationships is an attribute that stands out.
“He is fearless and larger than life,” she said. “His personality is engaging and endearing, and he hasn’t met a stranger.
“He knows everyone; he’s a collector of friends, I think. Pretty much everything he’s done has been challenging in some respect. Yet he moves through the worlds of North and West Omaha and everything in between and is more than able to be a spokesperson for people of his community as well as the integrated culture we all strive for. He is someone who pulls people together.”
Clark’s gift for gab and penchant for leveraging relationships goes back to the very beginning, to his days at Benson High School where he now resides in his alma mater’s Hall of Fame. But back in the day, he was just another hopeful looking to outrun and outwork the competition.
“Growing up, I always had an interest in business,” he said. “I was throwing parties all the time.
“I knew the concept of money, although back in the day I was only getting $2 and $3 at the door. But it still was an enterprise. I knew if you provided a valuable service, that somebody would be willing to pay. I really captured that early on and it just followed all the way to college and after college. I’ve always had a side business.”
After graduating from Benson High School in 1983, he’d earn a degree in music education from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, but not before taking a detour into professional performing arts. In the mid-1980s, he went on tour with Up With People as a vocalist, a gig that took him to 11 countries including Germany, Switzerland and the former Soviet Union. That period showed him the unifying power of music, something he would revive with the music festivals he’d organize later in Omaha.
Terrence Coleman, vice president of operations and chief financial officer for the Urban League of Nebraska, has spent years working alongside Clark on various boards and commissions. He described his longtime friend as a master motivator and people manager.
“He brings out the best in you,” he said. “Let’s say we’re going to have a party. What he does is, he loves to coordinate putting that party together and what he’s really good at is figuring out what you can bring to the party that is something you really enjoy doing or that you’re really good at. That way, the ask doesn’t even feel like an ask. There are things that he’s able to discover in people and talents he brings out of people, whatever it is, that helps make an organization grow or reach a goal.”
A CITY WHERE EVERYONE WINS
Clark said mobilizing a variety of people to exercise their preferred range of skills is not only good for producing events, but also provides a template for the kind of community building that can, and is, transforming Omaha. And it’s what he’s all about as he looks to the future.
“I’m encouraged by our willingness as a city to really put our hands around things that must be done and not being afraid to tackle our challenges,” he said. “That’s so encouraging.
“I believe the quality of life here is pretty damn good compared to a lot of other places. You see it in the capital projects, you see it in the buildings going up. I’m also starting to see a little bit more of, ‘How do we make sure we put the whole city in a situation where everyone wins?’ In terms of our most economically challenged areas, North Omaha, South Omaha, not only political will but private sector ownership is taking the responsibility for helping individuals with a hand up. That allows all to share in this American Dream where if you work hard, you can play harder because the free enterprise system works for everyone.”