Thursday, May 30, 2024

5 Questions for Cindy Clarke

You oughta know

Cindy Clarke
[/media-credit] Cindy Clarke

Cindy Clarke has been executive director of the UNC Asheville Family Business Forum since 2006. She grew up in Weaverville in a family business but knew that taking it over was not her destiny. After a 10-year career with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the Fairview resident married Billy Clarke and raised five children. Family ties brought her to the Family Business Forum. Membership has grown by 90% since she took over as director. Clarke co-authored a chapter in the Rutledge Companion to Family Business, an academic publication, and has been a guest on local and Sirius radio stations.

What do you like best about your job?
In my role as director of the UNC Asheville Family Business Forum, I have learned that working with someone to whom you are related can be complicated. I have also learned that there are solutions. Your business and your family can thrive if you are willing to communicate.

Who is a role model? My role model is my husband, Billy, because he is so diplomatic and balanced in everything he does. I tend to be more reactionary. And he has a great sense of humor!

Who should we be looking at and why? You should know Madeline Delp. Madeline graduated from UNC Asheville in May, was named “Ms. Wheelchair USA” in July, and then started a nonprofit organization and a GoFundMe page. “Live Boundless” will produce a video series for people with disabilities. She is working with North Carolina State Parks to highlight its accessibility for all people.

What was your biggest challenge this week? Marketing a new Advanced Leadership Program for Gen Now. This  program is designed for the generation currently working in the family business alongside the older generation. It is challenging for the Gen Now population to convince the older generation that formal training outside the company is important, because the older generation most likely did not have formal leadership training. In today’s world, it is vital for upcoming leaders to understand the functions of a leader, realize “what’s really going on here,” suspend blame, see your own part and build responsibility in self and others.

Favorite N.C. vacation spot?  Home sweet home. I love living in Fairview!

Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney is publisher of Business North Carolina magazine. You can reach him at

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