HAMPTON, Va. (March 19, 2020) – The Hampton University William R. Harvey Institute (WRHLI) held another Meet the Leaders Lecture Series at the beginning of February, featuring Mr. Chris Clark, a United States Air Force Veteran and current Chief, Child and Youth Services for Joint Base Langley-Eustis at Fort Eustis.
“Mr. Chris Clark is a veteran, a leader, a coach and a Hampton University alumnus. Our Leadership Fellows were fortunate to meet this exceptional individual who possesses great moral character, and endorses THE Standard of Excellence,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Born and raised in Iowa, Clark did not have an easy childhood. His mom was 16 years old when he was born and his father died when he was two. He had a series of stepfathers who were mentally and physically abusive towards him and his sister. “I had one bad example after another as stepfathers, and I use that term loosely. My mom checked out because she didn’t know how to deal with it. There was one incident when I challenged one of the stepfathers which led me to getting tossed down some steps where I still have the physical scars today,” Clark said.
After that incident, Clark did not have many role models in his life until his high school coach. “I thank God for my coach, because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here with you today. He was my one. It only takes one to get you through the hard times,” Clark said.
After graduating high school, Clark joined the United States Air Force and proudly, honorably, and faithfully served our country for 23 years. His military career started at Williams AFB in Arizona working as a crew chief on T-38 aircraft. It was here that he met his wife and they had a son. While he was active duty, he began working in child and youth programs as a sports coach, which led him into a new career. This vocation was his calling and ultimately culminated in his current position as Chief, Child and Youth Services for Joint Base Langley-Eustis at Fort Eustis.
Clark is also a follower of Jesus Christ and has been married for 35 years. They have two sons who are employed at Newport News Shipbuilding. He also has three granddaughters and one grandson.
During the Lecture Series, Clark talked about Leadership and Fellowship. He asked if leaders are born or made and gave the Leadership Fellows six traits of a leader: selflessness, loyalty, integrity, commitment, energy and decisiveness. Clark interacted with the students, asking them what they thought about each of the traits. “As a leader, you’re the one making the choices. Your followers may veer off, so you need to decide for them. That’s what makes you a great leader,” said Shelby Hicks, first year psychology student, and leadership studies minor.
Clark also talked about his path with his faith. “I know that God’s timing is perfect. Everything changed on April 11, 2011. That’s when I surrendered. I was saved. It’s never too late. It was a transformation and my life changed forever. There is purpose in pain. I never saw myself going to church or serving in the choir. Now, He wants me to pour the word into others and that’s what I plan on doing,” Clark said.
“Mr. Clark is a transformative leader who shared the trials and tribulations of his journey that many of the Leadership Fellows could understand and fully embrace. The discussions we had in class were very insightful and provided another training ground for stressing the importance of leadership and the myriad of opportunities they will have as leaders in their chosen profession no matter where they will reside domestically or internationally. Mr. Clark’s experience as a professional military instructor teaching leadership courses and as a Hamptonian only elevated the conversation and we were very fortunate to have him give back to our beloved ‘Home By the Sea,’” said Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute.
Clark has an AAS in Instructor of Technology and Military Science, AAS in Aircraft Systems Maintenance Technology, and a BA in Early Childhood Education from Hampton University graduating Summa Cum Laude.