Natasha Clark

Natasha Clark: 29

Program Manager, Springfield School Volunteers

Natasha Clark says she always manages to keep busy. But the first few months of this year would have to be considered quiet, she said — at least when compared to 2009, or “the year of her life.” So far.

To call ’09 a whirlwind, or life changer, would be to make two huge understatements. In February and March, Clark was in Thailand on a Rotary Group Study Exchange arranged by the East Longmeadow club, an experience she called “simply amazing.” It was also in 2009 that Clark, along with a colleague at Reminder Publications, started mentoring students at Springfield’s Central High School, thus getting an introduction to the work done by Springfield School Volunteers.

Clark became so enamored of the organization and its mission that later in the year she left a budding career in journalism (she was assistant managing editor of the Reminder at the time) to join SSV as program manager. And, in her spare time, she started her own business, the Lioness Group, which handles public relations, writing, editing, Web content, and social-media work for a growing number of clients.

Other than that, 2009 was pretty uneventful.

As for 2010, Clark is growing her own business, becoming more active in Rotary — she’s now a member of the East Longmeadow club — and, as program manager at SSV, overseeing and expanding the Partners in Education Program, which matches the resources of businesses and other organizations with the needs of the Springfield Public Schools.

“I love the fact that we have business owners who encourage their employees to give back to the community,” she said. “I feel that’s very important.”

As she looked ahead to what’s next in her life and career, Clark chose also to look back, to the first chapter book she can remember, The Courage of Sarah Noble, given to her by her father.

“He was an avid reader and was always encouraging me to read and write,” she said. “Unfortunately, he died in 1996, before he knew I was going to do all this for a living. He still inspires me.”

So while ’09 was the year of Clark’s life, she still has many chapters left to write. —George O’Brien

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