President & CEO
Kenneth Clarke holds an M.A. in English from Miami University in Oxford, OH and a B.A. in English and Political Science from Taylor University in Upland, IN. He has nearly two decades of service to Chicago and the Midwest through executive leadership at some of the city’s and region’s leading nonprofit, educational, and cultural organizations. Prior to assuming the leadership of the Pritzker Military Library, he served as Vice President of Administration and Operations at the Pritzker Military Library, Vice President for Development and Marketing at Safer Foundation, Executive Director of The Poetry Center at the School of the Art Institute, Director of Development (Midwest Region) for The Ohio State University, Director of Major Gifts and Gift Planning at the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Development Officer at the Ohio Historical Society.
Clarke has also served as a grant review panelist for both the Illinois Arts Council and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. He was a 2003-2004 Mayoral Appointee to Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, and was the 2003 recipient of Columbia College’s prestigious Paul Berger Arts Entrepreneurship Award.
The mission, collections, and programming of the Pritzker Military Library have a unique significance for him.
“Military service and the concept of the Citizen Soldier resonate with me on a very personal level,” he says. “My great-grandfather came to this country from Ireland to fight for the United States in the Spanish-American war; my grandfather served as a Staff Sergeant in the 401st Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Force in the European theater during World War II. My Connecticut family fought against my Virginia family during the Civil War, an ancestor fought during the War of 1812, and three of my ancestors were Revolutionary War Patriots. My own family’s history reflects that of thousands of other American families with a tradition of defending democracy, and makes me realize the importance of this Library’s mission and aspirations.”
Clarke lives in downtown Chicago with his wife and daughter.