Cathy Clark


Faculty Director of CASE

Academic Area: Strategy
Phone Number: +1.919.660.7949

Teaching / Research Interests

Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing, Angel Investing and Venture Capital, Impact Assessment and Metrics, Scaling Social Ventures, For-profit Impact Enterprise, Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy

Mailing Information

Duke University: The Fuqua School of Business
100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708


Ranked #4 most influential academic in business and society, as well as one of the top 20 women in the USA working in philanthropy, social innovation and civic engagement, Cathy Clark has helped define and build the fields of impact investing and social entrepreneurship for over 30 years.  She has had significant influence on leadership and market formation around how to use business as a force for good.  She is also an award-winning professor who has taught at Duke University, UNC, and Columbia Business Schools, who has brought her experiences as a professional investor, philanthropist, and consultant to her academic work. Her focus: developing the mindsets, tools, markets, policies, and practices to drive social and environmental impact at scale.

Cathy serves as Faculty Director at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and as Founding Director of the CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing.  At CASE i3, she has managed research projects with over 200 partner institutions, and oversees the CASE i3 Consulting Practicum, which has matched over 30 teams of MBAs with impact investing organizations around the world. At Duke, she also co-leads the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), which started as an accelerator working to scale impact of mid-stage global health ventures in India and East Africa in partnership with USAID's Global Development Lab Higher Education Solution Network, and is now producing research and educational experiences for funders, governments, entrepreneurs, and others.

Cathy is a serial entrepreneur, collaborative partner, and pioneering influencer. She looks for ways to create "impact DNA" to help people and organizations build their own adaptive solutions to social and environmental problems at scale. In 2001, she taught Columbia Business School's first course in social entrepreneurship, where she became Faculty Director for the Global Social Venture Competition, and created methods for measuring impact by enterprises used by over 50 MBA programs globally within a few years.  In 2007, she helped create the standards for B Corporations, which have been used by over 50,000 companies globally, including the thousands of companies who are now certified or legally incorporated as B Corporations or public benefit corps, including 6 divisions of Unilever, Danone North America, and Patagonia.  In 2011, she founded CASE i3 at Duke's Fuqua School of Business as the first academic initiative focused on impact investing, so she could deepen her engagement and research on portfolio, fund, and deal structures in investing for impact, and help direct a new wave of prepared talent into the emerging field. In 2013-2014, all of this work expanded significantly in scope; in two years she served as the sole academic member on the G8 Task Force on Social Impact Investing US National Advisory Board, co-authored with Jed Emerson and Ben Thornley the first global study on high performing impact investment funds, and was subsequently invited by the Obama White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Engagement to study and report on $2.5 billion in new private sector impact investments. Today, alumni from CASE i3 and Duke are embedded into institutions all over the world.

Cathy gets her ideas into the world in many ways, and fully exploits social media and online platforms. She has written or co-authored over 35 publications and is a dynamic, sought-after speaker. Her co-authored book, The Impact Investor, reached #18 in finance textbooks on Amazon.  Her 10 co-authored teaching case studies on high-performing impact funds help students globally understand the success factors for impact funds. Her online training series, CASE Smart Impact Capital, is a professional training series in continuous use since 2017, licensed by over 60 accelerator, government, fund, and university cohorts, and has helped entrepreneurs in 130 countries raise impact investment capital more easily. She is also a co-author of CASE’s ScalingPathways series, developed in partnership with leading social entrepreneurship funders -- the Skoll Foundation, USAID, and MercyCorps -- to study and share lessons from the common challenges that very successful social entrepreneurs have overcome.

Cathy teaches executive education programs for investors and entrepreneurs, most recently through CASE's Getting Gender Smart executive education program co-taught with Suzanne Biegel of Catalyst at Large, which offers a certificate on investing with a gender lens, in addition to her the daytime MBA elective courses, which she has taught continuously since 2001.

Prior to her academic career, Cathy was an impact investor at Flatiron Partners, a grantmaker and PRI investor at the Markle Foundation, and a policy convener at the Aspen Institute. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from the University of Virginia, and tweets at @cathyhc.