Keith A. Clinkscales: A County Manager Engineers Success in Palm Beach - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

BE Modern Man: Keith A. Clinkscales, Ph.D.

Strategic planning and performance management expert; 57; Director of Strategic Planning and Performance Management, Palm Beach County, Fla.

Instagram: @kappaclink

As the director of strategic planning and performance management for Palm Beach County, I have had the awesome opportunity to work with the Board of County Commissioners, the County Administrator, and over 30 departments to establish the strategic priorities, direction, and performance management and improvement that impacts the over 1.4 million residents of Palm Beach County. Since my onboarding, I have been able to solidify six strategic priorities which include Economic Development, Substance Use and Behavior Disorders, Public Safety, Infrastructure, Environmental Protection, and Housing and Homelessness. All of these issues are front and center for people of color in Palm Beach, and I am honored to have the role of driving improvement in these areas across the county.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?

I like the way our swagger commands attention when we walk in the room. There is nothing like a strong, confident, well-dressed, educated black man walking into a room, and his very presence serves as a game-changer.

HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?

As a young engineer just out of college, I, along with my wife, started the Science, Technology, Engineering, Precollege Studies (STEPS) Pre-Engineering Program in Boston. This program targeted 6-8 graders and utilized young black engineers to provide a hands-on pre-engineering program on Saturdays to minority kids. The goal was to increase the number of minority boys and girls in the science fields. This program was featured on the cover of the Black Enterprise March 1991 issue. Soon after, I founded the National Society of Black Engineers Professionals Chapter in Boston, and eventually became national chair, to help young black engineering professionals.

As a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi, I have worked to mentor young black men both in Boston and now in Florida. Now, in my strategic planning and performance director role for Palm Beach County, I work with the Board and the County Administrator to provide training and education to over 6,600 employees of the county. In my visible role, I am often sought out by black male employees who I mentor and provide guidance and direction for.

WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?

My greatest role model was Barack Obama. I learned to understand that success is when preparation meets opportunity. Have the right education, training, and knowledge needed for when that opportunity presents itself, and you can seize it. In addition, I learned to let your excellence speak for you. You cannot argue with success and excellence. When others come at you low, you remain high and fact-based.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?

Manhood is thinking right, looking right, smelling right, standing right, representing right.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

To be authentic! To keep it 100! That I am the best version of me, so be me unapologetically and not try to be someone else or live for someone else.

WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?

I gravitate toward black male fellowship. Having led a men’s ministry in the past, I know the importance of building strong, transparent male-to-male relationships. I have a mentee that I have poured into since he was 19 and he is now 26. I have a son who is following in my footsteps by becoming an engineer so I repeatedly speak into his life to help him make good decisions. All of this keeps me grounded in my own success, by knowing others are watching what I do and not just what I say.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?

I am extremely proud of my over 31 years of marriage to my college sweetheart and raising our three children: Kandyce, who has a successful career in the medical field; Kole, who is studying engineering at the University of Central Florida; and Kaleigh, who will be graduating this May from Florida State University. God has blessed me with an extremely supportive wife, and these three young adults who I try to be an example for. In addition, I am also proud to be a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and to have received a lifetime achievement award from the National Society of Black Engineers.


BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (www.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://www.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.