Cliff Fleet ’91, M.A. ’93, J.D. ’95, M.B.A. ’95, has been an advocate for the William & Mary and Williamsburg communities as a student, alumnus, faculty member and organizational leader.
Most recently, Fleet has partnered with other leaders in the community on numerous initiatives in his role as president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and chair of the William & Mary Foundation. These efforts included leading the university’s and city’s integrated response to the COVID-19 pandemic with W&M President Katherine A. Rowe and Williamsburg City Manager Andrew Trivette.
For these most recent contributions and his longtime commitment to W&M, Fleet will receive the 2022 Prentis Award on Nov. 9 in the Wren Building. The university has presented the award since 1980 recognizing those in the Williamsburg community who perform extraordinary service to the community and have a connection to W&M.
“Cliff Fleet wears many hats in our community: alumnus, neighbor, teacher, volunteer, CEO and president of CW, chair of the W&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and more,” Rowe said. “I am especially grateful for his partnership as we prepare for our nation’s quarter millennium in 2026. I am thrilled that W&M will recognize his years of staunch support and leadership with the cherished Prentis Award.”
Since taking the helm of CW in 2019, Fleet has lent his expertise to the university and Williamsburg in numerous ways, from offering the CW Visitor Center as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in 2021 to speaking at W&M’s 2022 Opening Convocation ceremony.
“I am honored and humbled to be the recipient of the 2022 William & Mary Prentis Award,” Fleet said. “Building upon the strong foundation between The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and William & Mary pays dividends through resources we can provide to our community and through our combined efforts to understand the past and all those who played a part in our shared American story.”
A native of Charlottesville, Virginia, Fleet is a four-time alumnus at W&M where he received his undergraduate degree and graduate degrees in history, business administration and law.
In addition to his role at CW, Fleet is a faculty member at W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, chairs the W&M Foundation and serves on the boards of the Omohundro Institute and the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. Earlier in his career, he was president of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as well as president and CEO of several companies, including Philip Morris USA.
CW and W&M have recently partnered on several significant projects including the Bray School Initiative and have been working with First Baptist Church of Williamsburg and the Let Freedom Ring Foundation to digitize significant historical documents and excavate the Nassau Street site of First Baptist Church. The two institutions will collaborate to mark the 300th anniversary of the Brafferton Indian School at W&M in 2023.
W&M’s year-old Office of Strategic Cultural Partnerships works closely with CW to build and coordinate teaching and learning using each institution’s resources, research and expertise.
“I have seen the substantial impact of Cliff’s partnership in the case of the Bray School as well as many other initiatives,” said Ann Marie Stock, presidential liaison for strategic cultural partnerships. “Our university and our community have captured the attention of the nation and the world, and we have managed this through partnership. Cliff shares our president’s commitment to ensuring that all see themselves represented in our nation’s culture and history.
“William & Mary and the Williamsburg community benefit so much from Cliff’s attentiveness, collaborative spirit and generosity. He seeks not to promote himself but rather to elevate all those privileged to know him.”
Fleet shared his own experiences as a W&M student and imparted valuable tips to incoming students as W&M opened the 2022-23 academic year on Aug. 31 with its Opening Convocation ceremony. The first of five annual conferences marking the 250th anniversary of American independence hosted by the Omohundro Institute in partnership with W&M and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was held in late October.
“Cliff has been one of William & Mary’s closest friends and strongest advocates throughout the years,” said Vice President of University Advancement Matthew T. Lambert ’99. “I have had the honor to work closely with Cliff and have seen firsthand the many ways he supports W&M, the greater Williamsburg community and beyond.
“The impact of his dedication and leadership is felt across our region. We are grateful for Cliff’s service and are proud to recognize his instrumental work.”
Staff, University News & Media