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November 1, 2006 at 3:02 PM

Citizen of the year

Bill Clapp has spent plenty of time on top of the world, but now his mission is to serve those on the bottom. An avid pilot and local business leader, Clapp is co-founder of both Global Partnerships and the Initiative for Global Development.


Betty Udesen / Seattle Times

Bill Clapp is being recognized for his philanthropic work.

He has advocated extending basic financial services to the world’s poorest people. Earlier this year, I talked with him about the state of microcredit, or giving small loans to help mostly poor women in developing countries to build businesses.

Clapp, the great-grandson of Weyerhaeuser co-founder Matthew Norton, retired from his family’s investment company in 2001 to focus on philanthropy. He mentioned a trip to El Salvador 11 years ago that changed his life. “If you meet the poor in their own homes, you are forever transformed,” he said. Seeing the hard work and potential of a poor family to rise above miserable circumstances promotes “a greater understanding of the human spirit,” he said. “The truth is they are battling and they are inspiring us every day.”

Clapp has obviously inspired a few people, too. Today he is being honored by the World Affairs Council as the 2006 World Citizen for “his commitment to internationalism through his work in the field of alleviating poverty.”

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