Meet Featured Member Cliff Yee ('15)
April 5, 2018
As a regional leader, Clifford Yee has over 18 years of professional experience gained in the consulting, financial services, and nonprofit sectors delivering business results and social value.
He earned an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and a BS in Business Administration cum laude from the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. He also holds a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from the University of California – Berkeley, a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Certified ScrumMaster with the Scrum Alliance.
In March 2018, Cliff joined Northern Virginia Family Service as its Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer with responsibility for the Agency’s Finance, Information Technology, Risk Management, Facilities Management, and business enterprise functions. Prior to NVFS, Cliff was the Managing Director of Corporate Social Responsibility services at Raffa where he advised organizations on assessing, improving, and implementing their social impact and partnership strategies by leveraging his numerous years of experience as Capital One’s Senior Director of Community Affairs and Market President Network.
Additionally, Cliff currently serves as Co-Chair of the Northern Virginia Advisory Council for Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. His previous civic engagement includes volunteer service with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Omicron Delta Kappa (National Treasurer), Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington (Treasurer), Northern Virginia Workforce Development Board, Tahirih Justice Center, Points of Light Civic Accelerator, and both his alma maters. Cliff and his wife reside in Fairfax, Virginia.
Can you give us some background or insight into your personal leadership path – including your sources of inspiration and most important lessons learned?
My personal leadership journey has been largely shaped by my experiences growing up in Columbia, Maryland. Columbia was one the country’s first planned communities that focused on eliminating racial, religious, and socioeconomic segregation through its city and housing design. In reflecting back on this, I was afforded many educational and social privileges in this environment as the son of a Chinese immigrant that I might not have had in another community. Many of my foundational leadership skills were established through my involvement in Boy Scouts, Student Government, and the track & field team. Later in college, much of my leadership development continued through my fraternity. Throughout all these experiences, I have been fortunate to have mentors who have helped shape me and serve as excellent role models. One of my favorite leadership lessons shared by a mentor is in a statement largely attributed to John Wesley “Do as much good as you can, for as many as you can, in all the places you can, for as long as you can.” I believe great leaders put these tenets into practice every day and are beacons of servant leadership.
How did you first become involved with Leadership Greater Washington and the Signature Program?
I first learned about LGW when I was working as Capital One’s Director of Community Relations. In fact, one of my responsibilities was to help identify the business leader that Capital One would put forth as the company’s nominee for each year’s Signature program. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to further my own professional development by becoming a member of the LGW Class of 2015.
How would you describe LGW - the alumni, leadership, staff, and overall mission of the organization?
LGW has continuously evolved as an organization since its founding by connecting leaders with diverse backgrounds and stimulating collaborative efforts to strengthen the Greater Washington region. LGW Members and Staff are some of the most involved leaders I know who are committed to making a positive impact in our community by developing solutions and not just talking about the issues.
Can you describe an extraordinary LGW Moment from your experience - a connection you made, something you pursued because of LGW, or a distinctive memory?
While there are several LGW Moments that I could mention, the most impactful LGW experiences have come from shared experiences with my Gold MindTrust members. These individuals have all been great sounding boards as I have addressed different career challenges. The various insights that have been offered from each of their unique perspectives have provided me with much-needed support and encouragement to take action. I’m fortunate that our MindTrust still manages to regularly get together about every other month since our program year ended.
How do you envision the future of the region? What about LGW’s role in that future?
I am optimistic about our region’s future as there is so much potential. While the region may have historically been known as a “government” city, I see opportunity in our collective diversity. Our strengths include a highly educated workforce, flourishing companies representing a variety of industries, thriving cultural institutions, and a steadfast philanthropic community throughout our region. Moreover, community leaders are being brought together by organizations like LGW to actively address our infrastructure challenges around affordable housing and transportation. As we continue to tackle these specific issues, I see LGW playing an active role to continue to convene community leaders from across sectors to address the tough issues and help ensure we have a region that provides an opportunity for all to prosper and succeed.
How do your efforts and leadership at your current organization impact the future of the Greater Washington region?
I recently transitioned roles from working in the For-Profit sector to a senior leadership role at a Non-Profit organization, Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS). The organization’s breadth, depth, and scope of services offer the resources and support to ensure that everyone in need, at every stage of life, maximizes their potential and fully contributes to a thriving community. By providing the essential building blocks for financial, emotional and physical well-being, NVFS is empowering 35,000+ individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency. I believe NVFS unique wraparound service approach, including our partnerships with government agencies and corporations of all sizes, can be an example of how we can make a positive impact throughout our region.
What is your favorite LGW event?
There are so many opportunities to stay involved with LGW throughout the year, but my favorite events have been the various “Lessons in Leadership” conversations with local leaders. I have found all of the guests to be authentic and generous with their leadership insights, and of course, Richard Bynum and Mike Harreld have been fantastic moderators. Plus I enjoy having the chance to network with other LGW members before and after these events.
In what ways has LGW been able to shape the region since you joined?
Since joining LGW, I have been impressed with LGW’s Thought Leadership series topics on “Affordable Housing” and “Racial Equity.” Both are critical areas for our region’s leaders to better understand and address, and it’s great to see LGW playing an active role to convene discussions on these topics. LGW has also done a wonderful service to our region by convening leaders from across all sectors to discuss the “Big Ideas” around the “Future of Greater Washington.”
How has LGW played a role in your professional life?
Without question, LGW has helped me expand my professional network and connect with influencers and leaders that I may not have ever had the opportunity to ordinarily meet. Whether through an LGW hosted social activity or educational event, I always manage to renew old friendships and walk away with a new connection. The high caliber of LGW members motivates me to be active and participate as much as I can in LGW events.
What are some keys to staying innovative in your field or some tips for success?
No matter what your current field or job level, I believe it is important to be intellectually curious. If you’re not able to participate in a professional conference or hear a noted speaker live, I would encourage you to download a podcast, watch a TEDx video, read a book, mentor an emerging leader, or grab coffee with an LGW member. There are so many great ways to learn, and as leaders, we should continually be expanding our toolkit of knowledge.
What do you love most about your LGW Class?
The connections made during our program year have remained sincere and unwavering. It’s always an unexpected joy to see a classmate during a conference, at a nonprofit event, cheering on the Nats, or in a restaurant. I could not have imagined the strong friendships that would be made during the Signature Program.
Please tell us something most people might not know about you.
Folks might not know that I am a Stroke Survivor after experiencing a spontaneous carotid artery dissection at the age of 40.