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Making A Difference

Making Friends with Mother Nature

Donald Clifford (MBA 1956)

Helping midsize companies achieve success was Donald K. “Obie” Clifford’s (MBA 1956) business specialty, but his passion was helping people understand their connection to the natural world. Clifford passed away in August 2017.

Clifford merged his boyhood love of New York’s Adirondack Mountains with his expertise in building successful business teams, and the result was the Wild Center, an immensely popular 54,000-square-foot, interactive museum experience in the heart of the pristine upstate region. Clifford, a former McKinsey & Company director who coauthored the book The Winning Performance: How America’s High-Growth Midsize Companies Succeed, encountered the idea for the center in a local newspaper and ran with it. Now the center educates more than 150,000 visitors a year and includes a unique network of elevated walkways that allows guests to experience nature at treetop level.

“It’s taken up much of my life for the last 18 years, and it’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done,” said Clifford, who also ran his own consulting firm and served on the board of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, in an interview earlier in the year. “My hypothesis is that if people understand their relationship with Mother Nature, they are much more inclined to take care of it.”

(Published November 2017)