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H. Lawrence Clark, Celebration of Philanthropy Award

Photo by David Trozzo

Quietly giving behind the scenes has been Larry Clark’s philanthropic mantra for many years. While he wears his love for the community on his sleeve, his giving has been silently tucked away under the radar, giving what was necessary and impactful for the nonprofits he cares about most. His charitable contributions to Anne Arundel County both individually and through grants from the Deerbrook Charitable Trust add up to more than $17.5 million over the past 25 years.

It’s a long and winding road of how Larry became involved with the Community Foundation – both literally and figuratively. Years ago, Larry and his wife, Janice, were looking to buy a house in Annapolis; and while navigating their way through the streets, they stumbled upon construction and a sign that read, “Future Home of the Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County” (BGCAA). Larry’s family have always been strong supporters of Boys & Girls Clubs, so later, Larry asked around a bit and met Bess Langbein who was working on the BGCAA Capital Campaign. They kept in touch and years later, Bess became the Executive Director at CFAAC. At the time, Bess was struggling to raise funds for the budding, but growing, organization. Larry believed in CFAAC’s mission and invited Bess to submit a capacity building proposal to Deerbrook to establish the office. Bess has since moved on, but Larry stayed with CFAAC, serving on committees and then its Board of Trustees, where he currently serves as Vice Chair, “I was kind of hooked on the Community Foundation,” he said.

“Larry is a humble, yet passionate advocate for the Community Foundation,” said CFAAC President & CEO Mary Spencer. “We are extremely grateful for his tremendous support over the years, and frankly, the Community Foundation wouldn’t be what it is today without his assistance. Whatever the need be, Larry is there to help — the consummate volunteer, the boots on the ground, the financial sponsor. This award is one small way to show our immeasurable appreciation for Larry and his work with us and throughout the community.”

Larry worked for and with foundations during his entire career. He spent 28 years with the US National Science Foundation where he learned a lot about grantmaking. In 2007, Larry retired from the NSF and became chair and president of the Deerbrook Charitable Trust. It was then that the Trust was initially funded with two stipulations from its founder: that the Trust would only last 15 years and during that time it was to “go forth and do good things”. During those 15 years that Deerbrook was in existence (2007–2022), more than $15 million was granted to numerous nonprofits in Anne Arundel County. Besides BGCAA and CFAAC, they included the AAC Food Bank, YWCA, Annapolis Maritime Museum, CRAB, and others. In addition to the Deerbrook grants, Larry personally donates to local organizations.

Larry’s generosity and continued advocacy for children and teens is unparalleled through his support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and clubs in both Maryland and in Florida. In fact, earlier this year, Larry was presented with the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. His philanthropy is evident not only through his financial giving but also through his involvement. Larry has served as board chair for four different foundations, including the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) from 2014 until 2022 when the foundation sunsetted and became the lead investor in Blue Meridian Partners. He currently serves on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution board and informally works with a number of community nonprofit social service organizations.

Throughout his board tenures, Larry kept the same values that inspired the Clark family to found EMCF, which were as follows: 

Larry’s values of empathy, compassion, humility, and that we are in this world together are shared in his words: “I am of the belief that philanthropy is the art of giving with a humble heart, a profound belief in people, and the unwavering commitment to do good, not for recognition, but to make an enduring impact that betters our world and community,” he said. “Each of us has the power to make the world a better place. Echoing the great and humble philanthropist Charles Feeney’s beliefs, true fulfillment and purpose in life comes from selfless acts of giving. It’s not about what we accumulate, but what we can share, and that is the philosophy that I hold near to my heart. The joy that comes from making a positive impact, whether big or small, on the lives of others is immeasurable.”

Learn more about Larry at the 23nd Annual Celebration of Philanthropy on November 17th.

The Celebration of Philanthropy Award is bestowed on an individual whose lifetime commitment to philanthropy has had a direct and lasting effect on our community. This is the fourth time it has been presented.

Go back to 2023 Awardees