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Jack Clarke Honored

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Special to the Black Voice

Citizen of the Year Award To Be Given At GRCC Inaugural Ball

Jack B. Clarke, Jr. has been selected as the 2003 Citizen of the Year by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce (GRCC).

Clarke will receive his award at the GRCC Inaugural Ball on March 27, at the Riverside Convention Center.

The event features other recognitions and the installation of GRCC officers and board members. Following the 2002-2003 chairmanship of Carole A. Gudde, the incoming Chamber chair is Mark Hawkins, of Riverside County’s Credit Union. The vice chair/chair elect is Candace Hunter Wiest, of Inland Empire National Bank.

Selection of the Riverside Auto Center as Business of the Year has also been announced by the Chamber, but the evening’s other awards will be surprises.

The Chamber’s Citizen of the Year is chosen by a committee that includes past recipients of the award. The selection criteria focus on the individual’s contributions to the community of Riverside and to the Chamber.

Asked how he felt about receiving the Citizen of the Year award, Clarke said, “I’m speechless. I’m very humbled and honored to even be considered.”

Clarke took on the difficult task of chairing a Use of Force Panel organized by Mayor Ron Loveridge for the City of Riverside, following the 1998 shooting of Tyisha Miller.

He chaired the Chamber board of directors in 2000-2001, and was a member of the GRCC board for eight years. The Citizen of the Year award recognizes his integrity and dedication in these and other community service efforts over many years.

Although the incident that prompted the formation of the Use of Force Panel was tragic, Clarke praised the dedicated work of the committee members. “It was an amazing opportunity to work with an extraordinary group of individuals,” he said.

Clarke joins a very distinguished list of Riverside leaders who have received the award since it was initiated in 1974.

He is only the third Black person to receive the award, following civic and business leader DeVonne Armstrong in 1994, and educator Dr. Lulamae Clemons in 2002.
Dr. Clemons said she considered Clarke worthy to be named Citizen of the Year.

“Jack Clarke is one of those extraordinary persons who has a proven record of facing challenges and controversy with dignity and wisdom, which over the past few years brought about positive results in the Riverside community,” she stated.

Clarke is a partner at the legal firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, one of the largest and most respected law firms in Southern California (see bbklaw.com). He received his Juris Doctorate degree, with distinction, from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, and his B.S. degree from the University of California at Riverside.

Clarke’s legal specialties include litigation concerning education law, special education disputes, public agency litigation, and other types of civil cases. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the California State Bar, Riverside County Bar Association, and the Steering Committee of the California Minority Counsel Program.

Clarke has published papers and frequently speaks on special education matters and assessment procedures for children with exceptional needs. Jack is married to Sheila Clarke, and they have two children.

His father, the late Jack Clarke, Sr., was the first individual of African-American ancestry to serve on the Riverside City Council.
Other awards to be presented include the Chamber’s Business of the Year award, which goes to the Riverside Auto Center.

The Auto Center is being recognized for its great contributions to the community, including civic involvement by the auto dealerships, employment of many local people, and tax revenues that benefit the City of Riverside.

Other Chamber officers being installed include Carole Gudde, Dee Gipson-Jimenez, Lou Monville, George Hoanzl, Craig Blunden, Dr. Gail Zwart, Robin Lang, Sharon Tyrell, and Chris Buydos.

Co-Chairs for the event are Candace Wiest and Debbi Guthrie.

The black-tie-optional Ball begins with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. on March 27th. Entertainment will be provided by Empire Acrogymnastics. Tickets are $75 each, $600 for a table of eight. Call the Chamber for reservations, at (909) 683-7100.

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