Vaughn Clark, Division Director for Community Development, retired at the end of December after 24 years at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Clark and his team have helped Oklahoma communities build capacity that allows for increased economic development and a better quality of life for Oklahomans through various grant opportunities. Improving both physical and social infrastructure and providing services directly to communities and organizations that serve Oklahomans is a main focus of Clark and the Community Development team. Clark has prepared the division’s current Deputy Director, Marshall Vogts, to take over as Division Director on January 1.
Clark was hired by Commerce in 1994 to develop Oklahoma’s first Consolidated Plan. Every state was required to develop a Consolidated Plan which would be a single document submitted annually to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) combining four federally funded programs – the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the Emergency Services Grant (ESG), the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, and the Housing Opportunity for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.
Since then, Clark’s achievements have been numerous, including serving as Chairman of the Board for both the National Association of State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) and the National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO). In addition, he served on the Board of the Council of Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) and was appointed to the State Energy Advisory Board (STEAB).
“Since my first day at Commerce, I have been impressed with the dedication and commitment of Commerce Associates to provide meaningful programs and services to the state,” Clark said. “While government bureaucracy sometimes is seen as a barrier, I have found that each associate at Commerce works daily to design and implement effective programs that will have a positive impact on behalf of all Oklahomans we serve. The professionalism of each and every Commerce associate is readily apparent in our team based approach to taking seriously our responsibility for being stewards of the State and Federal funds we are allocated.”
As Division Director, Clark has been working to address the specific needs of Oklahoma’s rural communities. Even with diminishing state and federal resources, he has striven to direct support and build capacity in smaller, rural towns and counties.
For those interested in a career in community development, Clark advises they start by becoming active in their own city, town or county.
“Communities need new, energetic leaders to address and champion the many needs to keep their areas viable and ready for economic growth,” said Clark. “State government can, in many cases, provide some financial resources, but local only leadership can build the participation needed from local residents to implement the programs successfully.”
Clark has recently relocated to Norman, where he grew up. He plans on doing a little more sleeping in with his free time and some traveling, and expects to get more involved in his own local community.
“I want to reacquaint myself with Norman’s many volunteer opportunities, take some classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at OU, and get my new house in order.” said Clark. “Travel is a passion of mine, but I don’t have any immediate plans. However, I do have several places particularly in Europe that I would like to explore in more depth.”
Commerce wishes Vaughn Clark well in this new and exciting chapter in his life, and we thank him for his dedicated service to the State of Oklahoma.
“Vaughn embodies what it means to be a true public servant with his desire to make community better for everyone, “said Secretary of Commerce Deby Snodgrass. “He will be missed.”