The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has named Dr. Reatha Clark King as recipient of the 2020 Mary Lee Dayton Catalyst for Change award. Dr. King was presented with the award at the annual Leadership & Legacy Circle for Women and Girls Celebration honoring valued donor-partners on October 1.
Established in 2009 in honor of its namesake, Mary Lee Dayton, the Foundation presents the award annually to elevate and recognize philanthropists who use their resources and leadership to advance gender and racial equity in Minnesota.
A native of South Georgia, Dr. King received her undergraduate degree in chemistry and mathematics from Clark Atlanta University, master’s and PhD degrees in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago, and the MBA degree from Columbia University. Dr. King is Emeritus Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Corporate Directors. She is well known for her pioneer services in chemistry, higher education, business, philanthropy, and community service.
Dr. King has served in a variety of careers, including as a research chemist with the National Bureau of Standards, chemistry faculty and associate dean of York College of the City University of New York, president of Metropolitan State University, vice president of General Mills, president and executive director of General Mills Foundation.
She is a legacy member of the Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige Program for Excellence in the U.S. Department of Commerce, an Emeritus Trustee of the University of Chicago, and an emeritus member of the board of the Minnesota Council of Churches Foundation.
The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) knows that all people benefit when more women of color are leading in all sectors. To rectify the lack of women of color in philanthropy, in 2002, the Women’s Foundation launched a Fellowship and Internship Program. The Dr. Reatha Clark King Fellowship at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, a two-year paid fellowship, was named in her honor in 2007. With the Wenda Weekes Moore Internship Program, the internship and fellowship program is innovative in building a pipeline of women of color leaders. Through the program to date, WFMN has engaged 41 women of color and American Indian women in all aspects of its operations, including evaluation, fundraising, grantmaking, and administration.
Throughout her career and today, Dr. King’s generosity remains a constant. “It’s been a thrill to travel the globe and share with others and learn from others.”
In reflecting on her relationships with young women and the fellows, Dr. King noted that many people ask her how they can “be like Reatha.” She offers that “I want to be like you, and you be like yourself. You’re going to create things, and I want you to do that!”
Trailblazing Leadership & Generosity
In honoring Dr. King with the award, past CEO and 2019 recipient of the Catalyst for Change award, Lee Roper-Batker shared that in knowing Reatha for 20 years, she is fortunate to have learned and benefited from her stellar leadership as a scientist, educator, philanthropist, and a corporate leader.
“At a time when we’re still trying to get women to make up just 33% of corporate boards, Reatha shattered glass ceilings for women and people of color by serving on 50 boards, with a combined 92 years of service on five public company boards, including Wells Fargo, H.B. Fuller, and Exxon Mobil. One thing in common across all Dr. King’s fields of influence was that in each place Dr. King chose to serve, the people and institutions were the beneficiaries of her wise leadership and heart.”
The Women’s Foundation is greater because of the philanthropy, leadership, and generosity of Dr. Reatha Clark King. In remarks at the event, Dr. King shared, “From the Women’s Foundation, I gained courage.” Throughout her trailblazing career, Dr. King has led with brilliance, generosity, influence, and courage. She exemplifies the spirit of the Catalyst for Change Award in her vision and commitment to strong future for the women and girls of Minnesota, and a better world for all.
The Women’s Foundation’s future is strong because of the vision and leadership of each donor, advocate, trustee, staff member, and partner who acts, lives, and gives to create a state in which all women and girls can experience economic opportunity, safety, and leadership. We are grateful for Dr. Reatha Clark King for her leadership, legacy of generosity, and for her unwavering belief in the power of women and girls – and each of us – to create a world of justice, equity, and opportunity.
Please enjoy the video shared in tribute to Dr. Reatha Clark King’s leadership and legacy with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and beyond.