Regina Clarke values mutual respect, open communications, and teamwork. As a Yale Facilities Superintendent, Regina manages 17 staff members and almost 20 buildings on campus. Most of these buildings are on Science Hill and house laboratory and research space. She also oversees the Leitner Observatory, two housing facilities, and some smaller houses that contain office space. Working in these areas while causing minimal interruptions is challenging and rewarding at the same time for her.
Born in Hampton, Virginia, her family moved to Connecticut when she was 10. After graduating from Bridgeport Central High School, Regina received a B.S. in Health Care Administration from Kaplan University and an M.S. in Management from New England College. After college, she worked as a facilities consultant for Aramark in several capacities including Director of Buildings and Grounds for the Mount Vernon City School District in Mount Vernon, NY.
At Yale since 2014, Regina’s team primarily does custodial work and general maintenance. Besides cleaning, sanitizing, and trash removal, the team also handles big and small emergencies and preps spaces for lab move-ins and outs.
Regina talked to us recently via Zoom and shared a little about her life, career, and values.
What was your first job?
My mom was a food service director at a nursing home. When I was in eighth grade, they hired me to come in three days a week after school and visit some of the elderly patients. We would play games, or I would keep them company while listening to stories from their younger years. Many didn’t have a family. Sometimes, I was their only visitor. It was an enriching experience and helped me see that everyone has value. That experience has stayed with me throughout my life and career. No matter how young or old, you should treat others with respect; people need to know that they are respected and valued.
Best childhood memory?
The day I got my first puppy, a black poodle named Jill. I loved that dog. I’ve always loved animals, but my mom wanted no part of it. My godmother knew I wanted a dog and surprised me, so my mom couldn’t say no. At first, mom wasn’t too happy, but she went along with it. Jill lived until about the age of 10. I now have a Japanese Chin.
Best advice you received and from whom?
The best advice I ever received was from my mother. She instilled in me at a young age the value of personal character, consistency, and respect. She said, “Guard your integrity because your name may enter rooms that your physical body will never see.” In other words, your character will speak for you, so maintain it in high standards. When talking with or managing staff, I believe in being fair and consistent. If you remain fair and consistent in what you do, you will earn the respect of others. Your character is what you are measured by at work and in life. I’m very keen on treating people with respect and treating everyone I encounter equally. And I want my staff to follow that lead.
What do you find the most challenging about working at Yale?
The COVID pandemic has by far been the most challenging relating to how we interact with customers and perform daily building operations. As a Facilities Superintendent responsible for our buildings’ health and safety, at times, it has been a bit tough. We’ve had to initiate new protocols that would sometimes change weekly while keeping the staff updated and learning on the fly. Each day and week, especially in the beginning, was challenging to say the least. But as with most of the world, I believe that now with a little over a year under our belt, we have finally found our rhythm, which has become the new way of life.
During this whole ordeal, I had to pause and realize that this is new to us all; none of us have experienced this kind of an event in our lifetimes. Margins of error and uncertainty are to be expected. My takeaway is this, address challenges as they come, one at a time, and remain flexible in the process. My team has grown tremendously throughout this past year, responding effectively to change while remaining consistent in their collaborative efforts. I truly appreciate the Chemistry custodial team and my co-workers alike.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work here or move up the ladder?
In any organization, your success is determined by your drive and the desire to learn new things. My advice to anyone looking to get into Yale or move up the ladder would be to stay focused on your desired outcomes, chart out a path, and follow it. Once at Yale, there are lots of opportunities. When you can, take on extra projects, which may mean being open to change or other possibilities. The passion for learning more and availing yourself to gaining new knowledge is essential. It’s hard sometimes because it’s easy to get distracted with everyday life.
I love to travel, enjoy all types of music, and I like to read.
My dream job would be a career that would allow me to work from any place in the world at any given time—then I’d have the ability to explore the world on my terms.