Since assuming the CEO position at StoryCorps in February, Sandra Clark has been commuting from her home in Philadelphia to StoryCorps’ Brooklyn headquarters each week. We sat down with her to hear more about how she’s settling into her new role and the appliance that is bringing new-found joy to her favorite hobby.
What attracted you to apply for this position?
Throughout my whole career, I’ve always focused on spaces where certain voices aren’t seen or heard, and elevating and amplifying those voices. There are people in our organizations and our communities who have a lot of knowledge and wisdom, but often they aren’t seen or asked what they think. In journalism especially–which is my background—many of those voices aren’t always represented.
That’s why StoryCorps means so much to me. It’s dedicated to the idea that everyone’s story matters and the organization has a solid track record of lifting up the stories of people who aren’t typically represented in most media. What I love is that people from all backgrounds come to us to share their stories—we offer a rare space to absorb humanity. We all experience our families, lives, work, and communities differently. StoryCorps is of, by and for the people and since two of my passions are community and connection, I am personally interested and professionally committed to helping StoryCorps expand its profile and become a force for personal and community transformation.
What have you learned about StoryCorps since starting as CEO a few months ago?
Since coming to StoryCorps two months ago, I have spoken to almost everyone on staff one-on-one.
Through these conversations, I’m learning that StoryCorps staff are incredibly passionate about connecting people through the power of listening and they are deeply invested in StoryCorps’ mission. As CEO, this is a wonderful foundation. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone a little personally and learning about what each person does to make StoryCorps the special organization it is.
As you start to settle into this new position, what are your priorities and what do you hope to accomplish?
StoryCorps’ time is now and I look forward to working with staff to secure an enduring future for this extraordinary organization, dedicated to capturing the voices of everyday people. One of my goals is to have StoryCorps become a household experience more broadly, especially in diverse communities. I can’t say enough about how moving and transformative it is to hear the stories of everyday people. So far, about 600,000 people across the country have recorded their stories with us. I also want to create more educational opportunities in primary and secondary schools to help foster compassion, justice, and the ability to really listen, in the next generation.
I’m also excited to continue raising the visibility of our One Small Step initiative, which combats the current culture of toxic polarization, one conversation at a time and I hope more Americans recognize that they can be part of the solution simply by participating.
As we approach our 20th anniversary in 2023, it’s also important for StoryCorps to grow revenue streams like our StoryCorps for Hire program and focus on expanding our community of individual supporters. We also need to do a better job telling our own story and I look forward to doing this work as part of an upcoming brand refresh project. Finally, it’s important for me to build on our internal culture of “people first” and ensure that every employee feels seen, heard, and valued.
Now that you’re commuting to Brooklyn every week, what’s your favorite neighborhood spot to grab a bite?
I don’t have a favorite spot yet. I love discovery so I’ve been walking through lots of neighborhoods and exploring this wonderful international food scene.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hopefully the world is opening up a bit so I’m looking forward to live theater and live music. Experiencing the creativity of other people is a real joy. And I love cooking, something I got from my dad, who was from Louisiana. I admit to having just discovered the air fryer, which delivers every time. My dad would not approve.