Cynthia Clark

Sustainability, Leadership

Cynthia E. Clark, PhD, is a corporate governance and business ethics expert focusing on shareholder activism; environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG); proxy disclosures; and data privacy. She has conducted multiple training sessions on ethical decision making, activism, and optimal nominating and governance procedures to senior management or boards of directors at organizations such as Morgan Stanley, Choate, Hall & Stewart, and State Street Corporation. Dr. Clark has been widely cited on governance issues in The Wall Street Journal, Institutional Investor, The Boston Globe, CNN, Forbes, Reuters, Bloomberg Radio, and more.

Dr. Clark is the founding Director of the Harold S. Geneen Institute of Corporate Governance, an institute dedicated to applying board-of-director research to practice. She is responsible for conducting large-scale research and delivering thought leadership symposia. In this capacity, Dr. Clark has analyzed thousands of shareholder resolution proposals and the way that firms address conflicts of interest, proxy voting, data privacy, and disclosing material and ESG information. Recent work examines how companies in the S&P 1500 vary in their approach to nominating committee processes with regard to gender diversity.

Dr. Clark served as the ethics and governance advisor to the pre- and post-IPO Origin Bank board of directors. She is a governance fellow with the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), a member of the Society for Governance Professionals, and is active in 50/50 Women on Boards; she presents regularly at all three. Dr. Clark helped establish the International Corporate Governance Society (ICGS) and served on its board during its first five years. She is a former financial services industry executive at Prudential Securities and worked at Bank of Boston as a relationship manager for its banking and mutual fund clients. Currently, Dr. Clark serves on the board of the Boston Public Library and volunteers with the Steppingstone Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.

Dr. Clark is author of Giving Voice to Values in the Boardroom; Business & Society: Ethical, Legal, Digital Environments; and Trust Diffusion: How Creating Climates of Trust Influence Organizational Effectiveness. Her recent work has been published in MIT Sloan Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Business Horizons, Strategic Management Journal, Business Ethics Quarterly, and Journal of Business Ethics. Dr. Clark’s work received the McLaughlin Prize for Research in Accounting Ethics in 2019, the Emerald Publishing Citations of Excellence Award in 2015, and Best Article at the Strategic Management Society in 2013. She has made presentations internationally, including in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Tampere, Bath, Berlin, Madrid, Valencia, Guanacaste, Bled, and Rome.

Dr. Clark is the 2017 recipient of the J. William Fulbright Scholar award sponsored by the US Department of State. As a Fulbright Scholar, while working in Spain, she researched best practices in international governance, specifically the influence of culture and government regulation on board composition and dynamics. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, a master’s degree from Northwestern University, and a PhD from Boston University. She can be reached at and