Person

Suzanne Clark

Suzanne Clark is the CEO and president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America. Working with former Chamber leader Tom Donahue, Clark oversaw a turn away from the Chamber’s historical support for the Republican Party during the 2020 election cycle, and she has promised to continue a bipartisan approach as the organization’s leader.

Clark began working at the Chamber in 1997 under as he became the organization’s first simultaneous CEO and president. Over a decade, Clark rose to become second-in-command of the Chamber until she left to run National Journal. Soon after, she founded the Potomac Group, which she sold in 2016. Clark then returned to the Chamber in a leadership role and was chosen to succeed Donohue as president in 2019, and then CEO in 2021.

Education

Clark graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University. She later earned a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown. [1]

Early Career

Clark began her career working at the Hill Group, an association management firm. She then worked for the American Trucking Association, serving as chief of staff for CEO Tom Donohue. [2][3]

First Stint at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In 1997, Clark left the American Trucking Association to continue serving as chief of staff to Tom Donohue in his new role as CEO and president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America. [4] Over a decade, she would rise through the organization to become head of communications and eventually chief operating officer, the number-two position behind Donohue. As COO, Clark ran the day-to-day operations of the Chamber while it developed into the largest lobbying group in the United States. [5][6]

Clark also managed the National Chamber Foundation and the Center for Corporate Citizenship, two policy think tanks established and run by the Chamber. [7]

Business Leadership

In 2007, Suzanne Clark left the U.S. Chamber to become president of the National Journal, a political news subsidiary of Atlantic Media. In 2008, Clark founded the Potomac Group, a boutique research firm which provided predictive political analytics to institutional investors. One of the main investors in Potomac was David Bradley, the owner of Atlantic Media. In 2010, Bradley sold his stake in Potomac to Clark, and Clark left the National Journal to become CEO of Potomac. [8][9] In 2015, Clark stepped down as CEO. In 2016, Potomac was bought by Hedgeye Risk Management. [10][11]

Return to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In 2014, Clark returned to the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America as executive vice president, a position established for her. In 2016, she was promoted to senior executive vice president. [12] In 2019, Clark was promoted to president of the Chamber, succeeding her old boss, Tom Donohue. Donohue remained as CEO with plans to stay until 2022. [13]

In 2020, the Chamber under Donohue, Clark, and executive vice president Neil Bradley unexpectedly favored the Democratic Party, likely as a reaction to policy disagreements with then-President Donald Trump. [14] The Chamber endorsed 23 first-year Democratic U.S. Representatives, the most in at least a decade. The endorsed Democrats were predominantly center-left individuals with track records of supporting pro-business policies, like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which replaced NAFTA in 2018, though many had also supported the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to strengthen organized labor. [15] 14 of the Democrats endorsed by the Chamber ran in districts won by President Trump in 2016. The Chamber endorsed 29 first-term Republican U.S. Representatives. [16]

The Chamber’s endorsements have received pushback from conservative members, some of which have threatened to limit donations as a result. President Chad Warmington of the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to the national Chamber condemning its endorsement of former U.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D-OK) for her record on energy legislation. Other members have pointed out that many of the endorsed Democrats supported the implementation of a $15 federal minimum wage. [17]

On February 4, 2021, Time reported that dozens of major companies, advocacy groups, electoral officials, and other influential individuals on the left and right engaged in a “conspiracy” to ensure that President Trump would accept the 2020 election results if defeated. The “pact” was led by the Chamber and the AFL-CIO, though the concept was originally envisioned by Michael Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO. The coalition consisted mainly of left-of-center organizations, including Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, Indivisible Civics, MoveOn.org, the Protect Democracy Project, the Working Families Party, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Voting Rights Lab, and the National Council on Election Integrity. [18]

On election day, Donohue and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka released a joint statement calling for trust in the electoral process. Behind the scenes, the two groups coordinated efforts to ensure high voting rates and electoral transparency, including overhauling the American voting process during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting absentee ballots, providing mail-in ballots, and providing equipment for polling sanitation. The group also encouraged technology companies to increase the moderation of digital content to prevent the spread of alleged misinformation and promoted get-out-the-vote campaigns. [19]

In January 2021, Donohue retired early as CEO after the board announced that Clark would succeed him. Clark became the second individual to be the CEO and president of the Chamber simultaneously. Upon taking her new role, Clark announced that the Chamber would continue its more bipartisan outlook established in 2020 rather than favoring the Republican Party as it has historically done. [20][21]

Board Seats

In 2017, Suzanne Clark became the director of the audit and cybersecurity committees at TransUnion, a consumer credit reporting agency with over $7 billion in assets. Also in 2017, Clark joined the board of AGCO, an agricultural machinery manufacturing company. As of February 2021, she retains both board seats. [22]

References

  1. “Suzanne Clark.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.uschamber.com/suzanne-clark. ^
  2. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  3. “Suzanne P. Clark.” JAG. Accessed February 26, 2021. http://old.jag.org/suzanne_clark.htm. ^
  4. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  5. “Suzanne Clark.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-clark-14081665/. ^
  6. “Annual Lobbying Totals: 1998-2020.” Open Secrets. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/us-chamber-of-commerce/lobbying?id=D000019798. ^
  7. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  8. “Suzanne Clark.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-clark-14081665/. ^
  9. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  10. “Hedgeye Risk Management Acquires Potomac Research Group.” Cision PR Newswire. January 12, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hedgeye-risk-management-acquires-potomac-research-group-300203180.html. ^
  11. “Suzanne Clark.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-clark-14081665/. ^
  12. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  13. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  14. Isenstadt, Alex. “Turmoil consumes Chamber of Commerce as it backs Democrats.” Politico. August 27, 2020. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/27/chamber-of-commerce-turmoil-402837. ^
  15. Watson, Michael. “The Left’s Hollow Victory: A Presidential Trickle.” Capital Research Center. Capital Research Center, December 17, 2020. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-hollow-victory-part-2/. ^
  16. Bohn, Kevin; Rogers, Alex. “Pro-business Chamber of Commerce is backing 23 vulnerable House Democratic freshman for reelection.” CNN Politics. September 1, 2020. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/01/politics/chamber-commerce-endorsing-democratic-freshmen/index.html. ^
  17. Isenstadt, Alex. “Turmoil consumes Chamber of Commerce as it backs Democrats.” Politico. August 27, 2020. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/27/chamber-of-commerce-turmoil-402837. ^
  18. Ball, Molly. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” Time. February 4, 2021. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/. ^
  19. Ball, Molly. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” Time. February 4, 2021. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/. ^
  20. “Suzanne Clark.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-clark-14081665/. ^
  21. Ehart, William; Williams, Walt. “Suzanne Clark to succeed U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.” CEO Update. February 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.ceoupdate.com/articles/news/suzanne-clark-succeed-us-chamber-commerce-ceo-tom-donohue. ^
  22. “Suzanne Clark.” LinkedIn. Accessed February 26, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-clark-14081665/. ^
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