William H. Clapp is a recognized social entrepreneur, thought leader, philanthropist, and executive with experience in both the international non-profit and for-profit sectors.
Bill helped found and lead the Matthew G. Norton Company, and, along with his wife Paula, founded three high-impact and high-profile non-profits: Global Partnerships, Global Washington, and Seattle International Foundation. He remains involved in each of the organizations.
Bill started his career as a bush pilot and businessman in Alaska in 1967. He returned to his native Seattle in 1975 where he led the founding of Matthew G. Norton Company, a privately held company with investments in real estate, fisheries, heavy equipment, as well as a prominent hotel in Hawaii. Bill served as CEO and then Chairman for almost three decades, until 2002. The company is one of the largest private holders of industrial property in the State of Washington.
In 1992, Bill and his wife, Paula, developed an interest in international development and, after 2 years of research, founded Global Partnerships in 1994. Global Partnerships has become a leading international impact investor with over 70 partners in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. The organization has provided loans and grants totaling $252 million since it was founded, impacting the lives of 7.7 million people. Bill served as Executive Director of the organization until 2006.
In 2002, Bill cofounded the Initiative for Global Development with William H. Gates Sr., former U.S. Senator Daniel J. Evans, former EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili. The organization, now headquartered in Washington DC, works to create successful businesses in Africa.
In 2006, Bill began discussions which eventually led to the founding of Global Washington in 2008. He served as the organization’s first chairman. Global Washington supports the global development community based in Washington state -- an association that includes more than 160 organizations working to create a healthier and more equitable and safer world. Global Washington hosts numerous events and an annual conference, publishes an annual international philanthropy guide, and represents and promotes the sector. It is unique in the US for its composition of such a diverse membership; NGO’s, business, foundations, philanthropists and universities.
In 2008, Bill and Paula founded the Seattle International Foundation to both help grow the international philanthropy sector in Washington State and to support development in Central America where they began their work. Since 2008, SIF has granted or facilitated grants of over $20 million to 219 high impact organizations. It is the only foundation with a singular focus in Central America and plays host to the annual Central American Donors Forum which brings together a large array of foundations, agencies, country representatives and businesses to discuss strategies and progress in the region. The SIF is an operating and granting foundation which runs its own programs as well as programs for other foundations. It publishes research and a guide for donors which highlights local NGO’s in Central America. SIF was also one of the founding members of the Central America Leadership Initiative. SIF has staff in Seattle, Miami, and Central America.
Paula is Vice-President of the Board and Co-Founder of the Seattle International Foundation. Paula also co-founded Global Partnerships in 1994 with Bill to promote economic opportunity for people living in poverty in Latin America. In addition to her work with Global Partnerships, Paula is active in the Seattle community and is a founding member of the Washington Women’s Foundation. Paula holds a master’s degree in counseling and has worked as a middle school counselor at Zion Preparatory Academy, and as a volunteer recreational therapist at Children’s Hospital in Seattle. Paula dedicates her time and energy to advocate for global poverty alleviation and to educate the community about the success of microcredit lending to eliminate poverty. Currently, she is working to raise awareness around international and local sex trafficking.
Bill and Paula live in Seattle and continue to make frequent visits to Central America.