- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2005

Mary Frangakis Clark has been named the first executive director for the World Cities Alliance, an international organization of community economic development organizations.

The World Cities Alliance (WCA) was founded two years ago to connect and market businesses in various regions of the world.

“It’s really a new model of economic development — it’s a collaboration between the regions to try to leverage resources from one city to another,” Ms. Clark said.

As executive director, Ms. Clark will direct the day-to-day activities of the organization, develop new services and dispatch staff throughout various regions, among other responsibilities.

“I like to compare it to being a conductor in charge of a large orchestra,” she said.

Ms. Clark said she would like to build the network from its original five cities — Berlin; Zurich; Paris; Cardiff, Wales; and the District — to having a representative on every continent.

“I would like to expand to three or four new cities by the end of this year,” she said.

One of the reasons why companies are eager to join a global economic development firm, Ms. Clark said, is that they like to feel they have an extension of their own office in another city.

“If I sent someone from Washington, D.C., to Berlin, I know that they would be taken care of. The Berlin company would be able to give them a touch-down package, help them get set up in a foreign city and understand how it works,” she said.

She said one of her biggest challenges, aside from dealing with time zones, is making sure everyone on her staff stays connected and communicates.

“We have meetings and events lined up where we can get together and talk about practices. For example, we’re having a workshop in Paris that coincides with the Paris Air Show about selling contracts to the U.S. government,” she said.

Even though figuring out time zones can be a struggle, Ms. Clark said, the favorite part of her job was creating jobs and building new relationships across many regions.

“I think it’s neat to see that we’re working together in the global economy, rather than competing with each other. We’re helping each other get ahead,” she said.

Tom Moore, managing partner at WCA, said Ms. Clark was the best candidate for the position.

“We established criteria for the position up front and she met all of them. Mary is a very accomplished person with vast amounts of experience,” he said.

Ms. Clark previously served as the program director for the Association of International Practical Training in Columbia, Md., where she helped run a cultural exchange program.

She speaks three languages and lives in Baltimore.

—Melissa Brosk

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