Maxine Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy bear-themed retail-entertainment experience, in 1997. She stepped down from her Chief Executive Bear role in 2013 to apply her entrepreneurial skills to improving K-12 public education and to invest in and mentor women and minority entrepreneurs. In 2015, she launched Blueprint4.com, a free mobile app that helps families navigate summer activities, pre-college programs and career options. Her latest venture is the Delmar DivINe, a multiuse real estate development set to open in 2021. Maxine is also a Managing Partner of Prosper Women's Capital, a St. Louis-based fund that invests in women-owned businesses, and a member of the board of advisors of Lewis & Clark Ventures, a St. Louis-based private equity firm.
Maxine has been named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Retailing by Chain Store Age, one of the Wonder Women of Toys by Playthings magazine and Women in Toys, and a National Finalist in Retail for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. She has been inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame and the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame has received the Missourian Award for her outstanding public service to Missouri.
Maxine serves on the board of directors of Build-A-Bear Workshop and Footlocker, Inc., and is a former member of the national board of trustees of Teach For America. She also serves on the local St. Louis regional board, the board of trustees and the Executive Committee of Washington University; the board of directors and Executive Committee of Barnes Jewish Hospital and its Goldfarb School of Nursing; the national board of PBS; and the board of directors of the local Nine Network of Public Media, Parents As Teachers and New America. In addition, she is a member of the Committee of 200. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Maxine also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint Louis University, a Doctor of Humane Letters in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and an honorary associate's degree from St. Louis Community College. She is the author of The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart.