Clarence Williams, a highly-regarded thought leader in the field of economic development and community development finance in Northern California, passed away on Monday, May, 8. He was 75.
Clarence was one of CRC’s longest-tenured board members prior to his retirement in January after serving more than 30 years.
“Clarence’s dedication to promoting racial and economic equity is one that has helped shape our mission and vision over the last three decades,” said CRC Chief Executive Officer Paulina Gonzalez-Brito. “Clarence was bold and fearless in the face of seemingly unmoveable actors. His legacy will live on within CRC, as we take his resolve into our advocacy work each day. He will be missed dearly.”
A strong and prominent voice in the fight for small business capacity building and access to capital programs for low-to-moderate income communities, Clarence’s advocacy efforts were critical in pushing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to fulfill its obligation to collect and report data on small business lending. In March, the CFPB announced that it would require banks and other lenders to collect data on the race, ethnicity, gender and geographic location of small-business borrowers and report that data to the agency.
“Clarence was a big part of what we do here at CRC,” said CRC Chief of Legal and Strategy Kevin Stein, reflecting on Williams’s impact. “He would periodically urge us to follow our North Star in pursuit of economic and racial justice. It’s not an understatement to say that Clarence made an invaluable impact on the lives of CRC members, our staff, and California small business owners.”
He is survived by his close cousins, family members in his home state of Ohio, his life partner, Jananne Sharpless, and longtime friends.
A memorial for Clarence will be held Saturday, May 27 in Sacramento. His family has asked that donations be made to either Allen Chapel AME Church, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation or California Capital FDC-Clarence Williams Community Benefit Fund in lieu of flowers.