We sat down with Clint Pearce, our current board chair to find out what motivates him to give back to the community and what brought him to San Luis Obispo in the first place. Clint came to San Luis Obispo almost 30 years ago because of his passion for rodeo. He stayed because of his life love, Connie Madonna. Along the way, Clint found his place as president of Madonna Enterprises and consummate community volunteer.

While Connie serves as general manager of Madonna Inn, Clint leads the management team for Madonna Enterprises, overseeing development and property management. His civic involvement spans helping found the HotHouse to serving on various boards, such as Visit SLO Cal, Tourism Business Improvement District, SLO Police Department Roundtable, and Cal Poly’s Local Economic Development Council. He is a past member of the Land Conservancy board. In 2015, the Pacific Coast Business Times named Clint to its hall of fame. As head of Madonna Enterprises, Clint has been a member of the SLO Chamber since 2007, serving multiple terms on the board of directors.

How did you find community when you first came to San Luis Obispo?
I didn’t know anyone here, but Cal Poly was on my radar because my folks are alumni. Flash, my horse, and I joined the Cal Poly Rodeo Team, giving us an immediate network of friends. I think sports and club activities help keep students engaged in school—they certainly did for me! And I also got to know Connie through rodeo.

You’ve got a long record of volunteerism. What developed your ethic regarding service?
I get a great deal of satisfaction from giving back. I want to set an example for my children and spur others, too. When I first got to know Alex and Phyllis Madonna, I was impressed by their community generosity. They hosted an annual Fashion Show that benefited the Women’s Shelter—that influenced me. Their legacy continues with Share the Love Foundation Fashion Show, co-produced by Todd LeMay, owner of Bladerunner Salon Spa, and Stephen Patrick of Stephen Patrick Design.

I feel strongly that your relationship with your community can’t be one way; you’ve got to give back in a way that is meaningful to you. For instance, Connie and I started a rodeo team at Cuesta because rodeo provided such an incentive for me to stay in school. We hope it will serve as a pipeline for riders to go on to Cal Poly.

Tell me about Imagine SLO and its themes: We Before Me; Doers + Dreamers; Love of Place; Empowering Innovation; Environmental Stewardship; Lifelong Learning; and Creating Connection.
I was privileged to be a part of a diverse mix of community leaders, who worked tirelessly for more than two years on Imagine SLO. We see it as our community’s North Star, guiding decision-making. As chair of the vision committee, I was very involved with drafting the themes. They were passionately debated, believe me, but by the end, we were all closely aligned and unanimous in our approval.

We Before Me is at the core of everything the Chamber does, and it’s at the core of regionalism emphasizing our intent to work as a coalition across the Central Coast. We want doers and dreamers to thrive in SLO, so we agreed to advocate for businesses and their employees. Raising wages will serve kids. Because we love SLO, we urge policies to safeguard the spectacular beauty of the Central Coast, our agricultural heritage and downtown. We see the need for more and more diversified housing, and we advocate for the arts.

We’ve seen innovation and startups thrive in SLO. The HotHouse is pulling in all business sectors and plays a powerful role—Cal Poly serves as an engine moving us forward. Let’s promote these and other incubators, which help ensure a better life for our kids.

Speaking of Cal Poly, let’s invest in all our educational resources so that local businesses and students of all ages can compete successfully. Above all, we want promote diversity and inclusion. We want everyone to have a seat at the table.

What are your goals as Chamber board president?
First, I’m excited to work with the new guy, our president and CEO, Jim Dantona. His success is our success.

Second, I hope to help launch Imagine SLO and see it take root.

Name a couple of your heroes.
Hmmm. Well, from a business standpoint, I really admire Warren Buffett because ego doesn’t play a role in his decision making. Personally, I think Pope Francis is championing holistic, powerful messages. He’s made a dramatic shift in how we accept LGBT individuals and support women in leadership positions. He highlights the need to respond to humanitarian disasters, and he speaks out about our duty to safeguard the health of the planet.

Do you have an overarching philosophy that guides you as an employer and community leader?
Balance. I want my employees and neighbors to enjoy their life and this place as much as I do. I want us all to help each other so that we can prosper together.