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Spotlight: Chris Eklund, Member of the Clemente Board of Directors

Executive Director Lela Hilton
Chris Eklund

By profession, Clemente board member Chris Eklund is a venture capitalist and investor focused on biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. But after the workday ends, Chris devotes much of his free time to music, theater, and the arts. This aligns perfectly with his interest in Clemente, where he is inspired by our graduate's stories and the growth of the program over the past 25 years. Get to know Chris with our quick Q&A!

When did you get involved with Clemente, and what motivated you to do so? I became involved with Clemente a number of years ago after learning about the organization from Star Lawrence. I liked the idea of helping people by introducing them to the classics, which have played such an important role in my own education and continue to inspire me. I define the classics in a broad way—the humanities, theater, art and music. When I first heard the Clemente story, I was immediately struck by the power of the humanities to transform people’s lives—empowering them to reassess themselves and their abilities through an immersion in the original texts and the world of ideas. Clemente’s work has been remarkable—its success stories are inspiring. It has clearly succeeded in its mission to improve the lives of disadvantaged adults. The concept applies not only to those living under adverse circumstances, but all people. It was a real “ah ha” moment for me. What do you do outside of the Clemente universe? I am a venture capitalist and investor by profession, focusing on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and other areas of interest. Our firm has been involved with cancer therapeutics, antibiotics, stem cells, dermatology and most recently, a best-in-class drug for migraine headaches (Nurtec, developed by Biohaven Pharmaceuticals). I have a busy life outside of work, with particular interest in music and the arts. I am involved with the Metropolitan Opera National Council, which auditions promising young opera singers and assists in the development of their careers. My favorite composers are Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. I play the piano and have studied some basic acting (a great way to learn Shakespeare!). I have three children: Alex (6), Anna (11) and Julia (29), who with her husband runs Sovi, a company in Napa CA that makes non-alcoholic wines.

What makes Clemente and the study of the humanities special to you?

For me personally, the “Power of the Humanities to Transform Lives” is a compelling concept. But what amazes me is the way Clemente has been able to put these words into action. 34 free, accredited, rigorous, college-level courses … 110 classroom hours across five disciplines … focused on critical and creative thinking. Wow. I hope we can double that.

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