|Edwin McClenton at the American Baptist Seminary of the West commencement in May 2006. (PHOTO BY CHRIS DUFFEY)
Occupation: Chief executive of Transworld Printing Services, Stockton, California.
Family: Wife, Daphnye, and two adult sons, Edwin and Jeffrey.
Faith journey: Growing up in California, McClenton attended a Progressive Baptist church. After moving back to California after graduate school, he joined Allen Temple Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in Oakland. "As a result of my affiliation there, I've become more grounded in my faith," he says.
Path to board involvement: The pastor of Allen Temple, the Rev. J. Alfred Smith, also teaches at American Baptist Seminary of the West. Dr. Smith suggested that McClenton be considered as a trustee. "I met with Keith [Keith A. Russell, seminary president] and the rest of the trustees, and it was a good mix," he says. "I thought that as a businessman I would be able to bring something to the table to help the seminary. As well, it would give me an outlet to give something back. The more I got involved, the more I liked it."
His growing role on the board: He has been a trustee for four years, and last year, he was elected chair. "I had worked on the business and finance committee for three years before I became chairman. Now as chairman of the board I am involved in the whole operation. We review the whole operation — I work very closely with the president."
His business background offers a counterpoint to the academic perspective when decisions have to be made. Working in the community as a businessman, he emphasizes preparing students for community service. In addition to academic preparation, McClenton believes future church leaders need to be exposed to the needs of the world around them.
The board, along with the president and the administration, shares responsibility for what happens at the school. "The people we have put together on the board, we function as a unit. It's really been exciting working with these people, because I can discuss any problem, bring it to the table and find an amicable solution. We work very well together and with the president.
"As with any other institution, you have challenges you have to rise up and meet. As a group we've been able to come together with solutions that have worked for the good of the seminary. And that's what being a trustee is all about."
Some goals for his board: McClenton thinks that board members should be more involved with seminary fundraising. "That has been one of the responsibilities that has fallen on the president's shoulders. I have some proposals on the table now that the trustees get more involved in raising money and visiting the churches in their regions to assist the president in fundraising.
"I think the day has passed when you can elect a president and say, 'All right, now you have fundraising to do in addition to all the administrative challenges you have in today's environment.'
"As chairman of the board, I certainly think it's unfair of us as trustees to come in two or three times a year and say, 'What have you done?' or 'How much have you raised?' when we haven't done our part."