TPAC announces Dr. Mary E. Clark as its first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Photo of Dr. Mary E. Clark

Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) announces the addition of Dr. Mary E. Clark as the organization’s first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.

With an extensive background in higher education, Dr. Clark joins TPAC having served in many roles at Belmont University, including Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Bridges to Belmont, Director of Multicultural Learning and Experience and liaison for the university’s collaboration with Metro Nashville Public Schools under the GEAR UP grant.

Recruited through a search conducted by DHR International, a leader in executive search and placement, Dr. Clark has worked in athletics, student involvement, new student programs, academic affairs, student affairs, admissions and multicultural affairs. Her expertise covers post-secondary access programming; academic support services; enrollment management; assessment; campus and community outreach; diversity, equity, and inclusion; policy development; student development and engagement; recruitment and retention and strategic planning.

Dr. Clark’s service on TPAC’s senior-level executive team is a significant advancement for the performing arts organization and comes after staff and leadership launched a multi-month evaluation in 2020 of how TPAC can better represent an increasingly diverse community, empower new perspectives within its organization, expand access to the arts and contribute to a more equitable, anti-racist future.

TPAC’s Diversity, Inclusion, Access and Equity Committee identified policy changes, new practices and other initiatives to provide a greater impact in the community, including:

  • Setting goals for 35% of TPAC’s full-time staff and up to 40% of TPAC’s Board of Directors to be represented by diverse community members,
  • Directing its purchasing power to more local, minority-owned vendors,
  • Diversifying its audiences with meaningful community outreach,
  • Identifying and overcoming barriers to participation from within Middle Tennessee.

“During the extended break in our live programming, we seized the opportunity to look inward at our mission and our organization with the hope of charting a new course for TPAC and our contribution toward a more fair and equitable society through the arts,” says Jennifer Turner, TPAC President and CEO. “Dr. Clark shares our belief that the arts, our community and the world are made richer by presenting and celebrating diverse stories, and her expertise positions TPAC for meaningful growth in Nashville and in the arts industry, making sure that all voices are heard and represented on our stages.”

Since joining TPAC, Dr. Clark launched an Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Culture (OIEC) designed to create a holistic approach to strengthening TPAC as an ever-evolving, dedicated and community anchored organization.

Under Dr. Clark, the OIEC includes Human Resources, supported by Kim Marrone, Vice President of Human Resources, and Mary Huffman, Senior Payroll Manager, HR, and Benefits Specialist as well as Learning and Development, supported by Kate Sealy, Director of Learning and Development. Through cultivation, communication and connection, the OIEC has established Center S.T.A.G.E.(Strategy, Transformation, Accountability, Growth and Engagement) as a foundation from which OIEC and TPAC will meet and exceed goals articulated in the organization’s mission, vision and core values.

“I’m incredibly proud to have the opportunity to serve Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the Nashville community in this new capacity,” says Dr. Clark. “TPAC is deeply committed to transcending lofty goals and thoughtful words in the areas of diversity, inclusion, access and equity, and I look forward to guiding the organization’s path toward positive change that is actionable, attainable, and accountable.”

About Dr. Mary E. Clark

Dr. Clark served as the first and youngest African American director of athletic academic services in two different NCAA Division I athletic departments (Marshall University and Saint Louis University). While at Saint Louis University, she was one of a select number of women to participate in the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minorities, now known as the Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute. Her other recognitions include but are not limited to the Professor Carol Khaler curriculum scholarship from Saint Louis University as well as an undergraduate CASE Minority Internship and the Executive Vice President’s Service Award, both at Southeast Missouri State University.

Dr. Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling with an emphasis in Higher Education from at Southeast Missouri State University. In August 2016, she completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University

About DHR International

For over 30 years, DHR International has been a leading, privately held provider of executive search solutions with more than 50 offices spanning the globe. DHR’s renowned consultants specialize in all industries and functions to provide unparalleled senior-level executive search, management assessment and succession planning services tailored to the unique qualities and specifications of our select client base. For more information on DHR International, visit

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