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Joan Irvine Smith & Athalie R. Clarke Foundation


The Joan Irvine Smith & Athalie R Clarke Foundation is a charitable foundation based in Newport Beach, California, that is devoted to environmental protection and the arts.  It was founded by Joan Irvine Smith of San Juan Capistrano, California, and her mother, Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke. 


The Foundation supports organizations such as NWRI, the UCI Foundation, Irvine Museum, Crystal Cove Conservancy, and Mission San Juan Capistrano.


Joan Irvine Smith

 Mrs. Smith

Joan Irvine Smith is the great-granddaughter of James Irvine, an immigrant who assembled about 120,000 acres of what is now Orange County, California, to form the Irvine Ranch.


Smith’s reverence for California’s native plants and animals inspired her to become an environmental activist, speaking out about the urgent need to protect the state’s natural resources and to balance environmental preservation with economic growth. She was also responsible for donating land to what became the University of California at Irvine.


Today, through the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation, Smith continues to fund numerous environmental, cultural, and historical endeavors, such as the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, to find new treatments for spinal cord injury.


She also supports the Irvine Museum in Irvine, California, which is dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930).


Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke

Mrs. Clarke


Nothing is more important than the careful stewardship and development of our water resources," said Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke, co-founder of NWRI.


Mrs. Clarke, was known fondly as the “first lady” of Orange County, California. She married James Irvine, Jr., in 1929, and along with her daughter, Mrs. Joan Irvine Smith, ran the Irvine Ranch, one of California’s most diverse and productive farms.


Both Mrs. Clarke and her daughter encouraged The Irvine Company to adopt a master plan for what would become the City of Irvine. She also encouraged The Irvine Company and the University of California system to establish the University of California, Irvine, on a portion of the vast Irvine Ranch. She and her daughter also founded The Irvine Museum, which is dedicated to California Impressionism. Mrs. Clarke knew several of the "plein-air" painters of her generation personally, and the museum's exhibits reflect the California landscape she cherished.


Mrs. Clarke recognized the vital importance of water and strongly promoted better water science and technology. In 1991, she co-founded NWRI along with her daughter Joan Irvine Smith. In honor of Mrs. Clarke's vision, NWRI established the Clarke Prize in 1993 to recognize outstanding individuals who have implemented better water science research and technology.