The Rev. Canon Paula E. Clark was elected on December 12, 2020 to be the thirteenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She will be the first Black person and the first woman to hold the position.
Clark, who currently serves as canon to the ordinary and chief of staff in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, was chosen unanimously on the fourth ballot in an election conducted on Zoom from a slate originally composed of four candidates. She received 229 clergy votes and 284 lay votes.
Clark was baptized into the Episcopal Church at age 10 by Bishop John Walker, the first Black dean of Washington National Cathedral and first Black bishop of the Diocese of Washington. She received her undergraduate education at Brown University and earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Before entering the seminary, Clark served as public information officer for the Office of the Mayor and the District of Columbia’s Board of Parole for nine years and spent five years as director of human resources and administration for an engineering and consulting firm in the District.
In 2004, she received a Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, and served at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D. C. and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beltsville, Maryland, before joining the staff of Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. Her work for the diocese focused initially on clergy development and multicultural and justice issues.
The bishop-elect describes herself as “the proud matriarch of our blended family of five adult children and seven grandchildren.” Her beloved husband, Andrew McLean, died in 2021.