Katherine Clark '85 Wins Massachusetts Election for Congress

Katherine M. Clark, a 1985 graduate of St. Lawrence University and current Massachusetts state senator, has been elected as the newest member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The 50-year-old Democrat from Melrose, Mass., was elected during a special election held Tuesday to fill the state’s vacant Fifth Congressional District seat. Clark will replace Edward J. Markey, who was elected in June to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat vacated by current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Clark has been serving as a state senator since 2011 and previously as a legislator in the state’s House of Representatives from 2008 to 2011. Clark will become only the fifth woman in history to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

Born and raised in New Haven, Conn., Clark attended St. Lawrence University from 1981 to 1985, graduating with her bachelor’s degree in history.

“Studying American history showed me how to use the lessons of the past to move forward,” she said in April 2012 during an interview for a University publication. “St. Lawrence gave me the skills to critically look at our history, our traditional values and ways our country evolved, and apply what we learned from our history to find solutions for our modern problems.”

While attending St. Lawrence, Clark interned during the summer for the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators. One of the projects she worked on was interviewing women legislators about how they became involved in politics. That experience, she told The Boston Globe, sowed the seeds of what would blossom into an elective career that has taken her all the way to Congress.

“Even though I did not really see a political career ahead of me at that point," Clark told the Globe, “that really made an impact on the importance of having women represented in government at all levels.”

Clark would go on to earn her law degree from Cornell University in 1989. From there, she went on to work for a Chicago law firm before moving to Colorado to work in the office of the state attorney general.

In 1995, Clark returned to Massachusetts and to school after developing an interest in the public sector, earning a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1997. She has since served as general counsel for the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services and chief of the Policy Division for the Massachusetts attorney general. Clark was first elected to public office as a member of her local school board before being elected state representative, state senator, and now member of Congress.

Clark will join U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as St. Lawrence University’s only other graduate currently serving in Congress. Collins graduated from St. Lawrence in 1975.

“I’m hoping to contact her and that we can bond over that,” Clark said.

Education was a big reason why Clark decided to run for office.

“I want to make sure college remains affordable and accessible for everyone,” she said in April 2012 during an interview for a University publication. “St. Lawrence is where I discovered the importance of having a broad knowledge base that prepares you for a career you’ve dreamt about, but also careers you never envisioned yourself doing. Everyone should have that opportunity.”

During her time at St. Lawrence, Clark was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority’s Beta Beta Deuteron Chapter. She was an honors student, made the Dean’s List and was a member of the University’s riding team.