Alumni Profile: KK Clark ’12
KK Clark has never applied for a full-time job in her life.
Back when she was a graduate student at Auburn, KK participated in the McWhorter School of Building Science’s (BSCI) competition teams. While presenting with her team at an Associated Schools of Construction’s competition in Reno, Nevada, KK made an impression on executives from Clark Construction Group. “As we were headed out to celebrate being done with the competition, a group of Clark executives walked up to me and simply asked, ‘Do you want a job?’” KK recalled. “The rest is history!”
KK graduated from BSCI with a bachelor’s degree in 2012 and a master’s in 2013 and has been with Clark Construction Group ever since then. A native of Sylacauga, Alabama, KK found that moving out of the Southeast was the best way to grow at her own pace. “Most who know me are aware that I stroll to the beat of my own drum,” she said. “Over the past decade I’ve been able to do just that at Clark while also receiving world class training and development within the industry.” She has worked at all of Clark’s West Coast offices, including San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and now San Diego.
In the last several years, KK has spent a significant amount of time developing resources for Clark’s underrepresented employees. She has been part of the company’s Inclusion and Diversity Sounding Board, helping to create unique enERGy groups such as an LGBTQ+ Employee Advocacy Program (LEAP), the Black Leadership Development Resource (BLDR), Women’s Insight Network (WIN) and the Hispanic/Latin Organization for Leadership & Advancement (HOLA). These groups provide resources, professional development opportunities and mentoring for Clark employees. “When I graduated from Auburn, I had no clue that I’d ever be openly LGBTQ+ in the workspace or spend a significant amount of my career advocating for and developing resources for Clark’s many diverse employees and partners,” she stated. “And I’m very confident this work will be what I am most proud of when I reflect on my career in the future.”
KK returns to visit family and friends in Auburn regularly, and she makes a point to stop by campus whenever she’s in town. Since Clark recently opened offices in Nashville and Atlanta, she has the pleasure of recruiting students from her alma mater to work at her company. “I’m always looking forward to any opportunities to connect with and support the program, professors and staff that were pivotal in my education and career development,” she said. “It is always exciting to see the up and coming talent from our CADC programs.” As a champion for diversity and inclusion, KK has been a valuable resource for students in Auburn’s Tiger Excellence Scholar Program (TESP). “I quickly realized each student in the program came from historically underrepresented communities and I truly felt right at home with each of them,” she said. She feels that Auburn’s TESP program is providing students with the same kind of support and development she has helped to bring about at Clark. “I truly hope they know there is a great place for them to thrive and succeed in the design and construction industry,” she stated. “Most importantly, I hope they can see that unique individuals are exactly what the industry needs and wants today.”
So what does KK tell students who are getting ready to enter the workforce? “My best piece of advice is to find your people,” she said. “They are out there in the industry; don’t ever give up the search.” Her own mentor, Katie Twomey, helped KK in the early years of her career to be her authentic self. She says that mentors need to help their mentees identify and develop those skills and characteristics that make them unique. Twomey and her husband Dan gave KK support, advocacy and mentorship over the years. “Because of them, I am able to show up to work without having to hide anything about myself,” she explained. “I am able to proudly wear the Clark blue next to a pride flag, let my Southern accent slip into conversation from time to time and, without any hesitation, enjoy all the social interactions of this industry with my wife, Lindsay, right there next to me.”
“KK has been a wonderful alum giving her time and energy to supporting our current students as they navigate their professional programs and start shifting into industry,” stated Katherine Buck Chastain, CADC’s Administrator of Recruitment. “She has attended countless career fairs encouraging students with a smile and a positive attitude and is an excellent example of an ‘industry partner,’ someone who works alongside us to support our students.” KK says that the longer she is in the industry, the more she sees the importance of being her authentic self in the workplace. “In recent years, I’ve become so aware of how important it is for me to show up as a female, non-binary presenting, LGBTQ+ identifying team leader so that folks who are just starting in their career can see representation at Clark and in the industry,” she stated. “Representation matters. It might be tough at first, but the long term rewards and positive influence you can make in the industry really do matter.”
Katherine Buck Chastain