Brian Clark was a large part of revitalization efforts, including the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in downtown Waterville. Clark, seen Wednesday with the art center as a backdrop, is leaving Colby College after serving as its vice president of planning and strategy. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Those who know Brian Clark say he is smart, driven, thoughtful — and possesses an unusual combination of analytic skills and creative insight.

Beyond that, he has what it takes to execute large projects such transforming a college campus — or a downtown.

“He loves data but he also loves the creative side of it,” says Colby College President David A. Greene. “He’s someone I’ve always trusted intuitively. He’s got great judgment. He has an uncanny ability to make very good decisions, understanding what people need, and see the big picture. Not everybody can do that.”

Clark, 41, is vice president of planning and strategy at Colby where for the last 10 years, he has worked side-by-side with Greene as the college helped launch an ambitious downtown revitalization project and kick off construction projects on the Mayflower Hill campus.

Clark has become such a familiar face in the downtown that, by all accounts, his absence after the end of this month will be felt in spades. He and his wife, Katie, and son, Owen, 9, plan to move to South Portland to be closer to their parents and extended family.

Chris Gaunce, owner of Central Maine Motors Auto Group, said Clark will be missed.


“I’m sorry to see him go,” he said. “Brian has been so helpful to the community in many ways. His steadfast leadership and guidance will be appreciated wherever he lands.”

A Maine native, Clark has left his mark on Waterville in every demolition, construction, renovation and creative project downtown that Colby launched. He has been a key player in determining if a building was salvageable or should be demolished, hired architects to design or renovate new buildings and saw projects through to fruition, always with an eye toward what the community wanted and what fit downtown.

Brian Clark has been a large part of revitalization efforts in downtown Waterville, including the Paul J. Schupf Art Center. Clark, seen Wednesday with the art center behind him, is leaving Colby College after serving as its vice president of planning and strategy. Clark says he is getting a tattoo that will depict the side of the building he is standing in front of. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The Lockwood Hotel, with its Front & Main restaurant, Greene Block + Studios, the renovated office and retail building at 173 Main St., Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center are a few of the projects he was involved with. Such developments helped spur more retail and housing projects in a downtown that was struggling 10 years ago.

Executing the building efforts required a lot of listening on Clark’s part, as well as talking with residents and professionals and using his creative and organizational skills.

“He’s got such a naturally collaborative spirit that brings people together,” Greene said.

As a reporter who has covered downtown revitalization efforts since they began, I observed Clark work his magic at many meetings with residents, downtown business leaders, arts advocates and others to discuss what the downtown needed to grow and thrive. The shared conclusion was that more people needed to be living and working downtown. Existing businesses needed to be supported and new ones courted. Always attentive, insightful and enthusiastic, Clark was a staid and steady figure in what has been a long, arduous process. But he made the work seem easy with his consistently, amiable nature and earnest desire to see the downtown succeed.


“His vision spans education, arts, culture, economic development and innovation,” said Garvan Donegan, director of planning, innovation and economic development for the Central Maine Growth Council.

Clark was a member of that council’s board of directors and, because of his impact and guidance, the community is better positioned to innovate, grow and attract vital investment, Donegan said.

Brian Clark said Wednesday he is getting a tattoo as seen in this artist’s rendering. The tattoo depicts the Paul J. Schupf Art Center. Clark was a large part revitalization efforts, including the art center, in downtown Waterville. Clark is leaving Colby College after serving as its vice president of planning and strategy. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Not many communities and college towns get to interact so closely with those who run institutions of higher learning. We in Waterville had that privilege, particularly during downtown revitalization efforts, and continue to have that connection. Waterville and Colby have for many years maintained a cordial and symbiotic relationship, with each seeking to support and champion the other. Clark, Greene and other Colby officials such as Ruth Jackson, the college’s vice president and chief of staff, have taken their roles to heart. Jackson this week described Clark as the “ultimate collaborator.”

“Everything he touches becomes better through his involvement,” she said. “He’s generous with his time and expertise and he has an uncanny ability to contribute creative thinking, precision and execution of a broad range of initiatives. He’s also funny and a really good friend.”

Kim Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, said she will miss Clark’s thoughtful leadership.

“His desire to participate with the local business community and build that bridge between Colby and the city made navigating Colby’s vision and growth of community engagement a pleasure,” she said.


For Greene, who first hired Clark at the University of Chicago 15 years ago when Green was vice president there and then convinced him to come to Waterville, Clark is more than just a valued fellow professional — he is a “friend for life.”

“I care about him and his family deeply and I want to see him succeed,” Greene said.

It is bittersweet to leave the community Clark has called home for the past 10 years. But it is time. His wife, Katie, whom he met in the fifth grade, has been pursuing a doctorate in research methodology and hopes to work in market research and data analysis. Clark himself has some irons in the fire, but says he plans to take a couple of months off and spend time with his family, particularly at the beach.

He won’t be far away. And he plans to return to the Elm City in August to get a tattoo. It will be a sketch of the Paul J. Schupf Art Center.

“That is going to be permanently affixed on my arm,” he said. “It’s an important symbol of these last 10 years and what that’s meant to me, so I’ll definitely be back.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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