Our Team

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The Spark Team

We are a passionate, innovative and collaborative team focused on celebrating students and promoting possibility.

Jessica Bryan
Hannah Wheeler
Lea Henry
Katherine Castillo Valentin

Jessica Bryan
Program Manager

Jessica is passionate about spreading Spark’s mission to help middle schoolers understand and experience what’s possible for their futures and turn that possibility into reality. As a teacher of five years, she saw there was a greater need for all students to have a safe space to learn, grow, and have reliable adult guidance and she is thrilled that Spark provides that opportunity! She has a strong understanding of what students and schools want out of a program and is excited to form lasting and meaningful relationships with all of our Spark Partners. While she was a Camp Director for Galileo Learning, she realized that kids “learn through doing” and that creative outlets made learning fun again! In her directorial role, she focused on bringing together a collaborative team through coaching, mentoring, and performance management. Jessica holds her M.Ed in Education from Loyola Marymount University and a B.A. in Communications and Culture with a minor in Small Business Management from Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Hannah Wheeler
Program Fellow

Hannah graduated from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development. She moved to Chicago with one goal in mind: tackling inequality in education. Serving as a Math Tutoring Fellow with SAGA Innovations, Hannah saw the impact one-on-one relationships can have on students' lives. After working with high schoolers at Wendell Phillips Academy and seeing their lack of opportunities, she is excited to be able to show Middle Schoolers their potential through Spark and watch them succeed in high school and beyond!

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Lea Henry
Program Fellow

Lea graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she studied Business Marketing. She found her passion for working with middle school students while serving for City Year Chicago as a tutor and mentor in a seventh and eighth math classroom in Englewood. Her time spent with students at Stagg Elementary helped her realize the lack of knowledge about opportunities available to black and brown communities in Chicago. She joined Spark to help bridge the gap and help students see their possibilities.

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Katherine Castillo Valentin
Program Fellow

Katherine graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Human Communication Sciences and Minors in Latinx Studies & Psychology. She is very passionate about how social justice issues intersect with the educational experiences of Chicago Public School students. While at Northwestern, she worked with Borders and Identities NU, a collaborative that focused on Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and how to center youth to build stronger community relationships. She is excited to bring her knowledge on YPAR to make sure our Spark Students are at the center of our program each day. Since Katherine has lived in Chicago her whole life, she is very excited to work at Spark and have the opportunity to give back to young people in the city.

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Stephen Bruce
Michaela Perez
Vida Amanat
Scarlett Ferman

Stephen Bruce
Program Fellow

Stephen Bruce born and raised in Peoria, IL has always had a passion for connecting with youth and helping them reach their goals. In early 2016, shortly after graduating High School; Stephen moved to Chicago, IL to pursue a career in Youth Development and Communication where he later started at Harold Washington College and has been working as on Youth Director on the Southside.  Stephen comes to Spark as a Public Ally AmeriCorps Member and hopes to continue to use the life experiences of his past, unique ability to connect with youth and adults, and also his experience in youth programming to help build Spark and encourage youth to reach new possibilities.

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Michaela Perez
Public Ally

Michaela is a proud native of Oxnard, CA, a well-known area for strawberry fields and agricultural industries. At an early age, she was submerged into advocacy and human rights campaigns through exposure from her aunt, civil rights activist Carmen Perez. Michaela’s commitment to strive for an equitable society stemmed from experiencing firsthand how low socioeconomic status affects mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Michaela acknowledges the significance of obtaining a higher education and brings a strong commitment to enhancing diversity through providing educational resources. Michaela received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at San Francisco State University, where she was accepted into a prestigious NIH fellowship, SF Build. The fellowship provided opportunities to investigate factors contributing to inequities within communities. Her experience in providing direct services for low-income and undocumented students, as well as working in clinical research settings, has shaped her goals and ambitions. As a Public Ally and AmeriCorps member, Michaela hopes to continue a career that entails research, equity, cultural inclusiveness, travel, exploration, and discovery.

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Vida Amanat
Program Coordinator

Vida comes to Spark with a passion for social change and a background in empowering individuals and communities to take charge of their intellectual and moral development. As a regional coordinator for the Ruhi Training Institute, she expanded and strengthened educational programs for children, youth, and adults throughout Northern California. In this role, she administered systems to support volunteers that ranged from coordinating outreach programs to offering distance education to training and managing new team members. Vida is excited to continue her work in community and youth development with Spark. If you don't find her supporting youth to be active leaders in their communities, you'll probably find her dancing on the salsa floor.

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Scarlett Ferman
Program Fellow

Scarlett is a New Jersey native who is passionate about educational equity and social justice.  She is a recent graduate from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she concentrated in Sociology, Psychology, and Geography.  She spent her college career researching systemic inequality and the pathways towards a more fair and just education system. Scarlett arrives at Spark bringing experience in youth development and education for empowerment from her work with Free Arts NYC, an arts mentorship-based organization, as well as Groundwork Hudson Valley, an organization centered on environmental education and food justice. As a Program Fellow, Scarlett hopes to continue to foster meaningful relationships and positive student outcomes with Spark.

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Thaddeus Brown
Hannah Strauss
Samantha Scheetz
Jonathan Lambour

Thaddeus Brown
Public Ally

Thaddeus is passionate about equity and inclusion in education with his breadth of experience in education access and policy. As a San Franciscan Native, and now as an AmeriCorp’s Public Ally, he came to the Spark Program with a drive to see students succeed by using the insight he has gained into inequities in education to help propel our mission. Thaddeus earned a BA with Honors from UCLA, where he did work as a student leader and advocate for underrepresented student populations. He was the chief-of-staff of the Undergraduate Student Association Council’s Transfer Student Representative’s office and held various leadership positions with other equity based organizations on campus. His other interests center on the criminal justice system where he sees a connection to educational inequities. He is also currently a neighborhood “adjudicator” for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Neighborhood Courts Program.
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Hannah Strauss
Program Fellow

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Hannah is excited to be a part of the Spark team as one of this year’s Spark Fellows and give back to the Bay Area community. Hannah is passionate about youth education and was drawn to Spark’s mission to foster a successful generation of young people by providing them with a whole range of professional and personal development opportunities. Hannah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Colorado Boulder. Upon graduating, she moved to Thailand to spend some time teaching English to elementary schoolers and currently works part-time at a local homeless & transitional housing shelter. Hannah is thrilled to be a part of the Spark team and learn more about the world of youth development nonprofits. 

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Samantha Scheetz
Program Coordinator

Sam is an East Coast native, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and began her career as an AmeriCorps Urban Education fellow in New York City. Then she packed her bags and shipped off to the Bay Area where she worked as an Account Coordinator at a PR agency, honing her skills as a communicator, problem-solver and corporate partner liaison. Her experience with youth spans tutoring, after school program instruction and teaching yoga. She’s passionate about the power of education and relationship-building to bridge communities. She’s eager to spread her zest for social equity to the West Coast and to Spark stakeholders.

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Jonathan Lambour
Development and Operations Coordinator

Jonathan Lambour is a first generation graduate from California State University, Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Political Science, with a focus in Public Administration, and is a Masters of Public Administration Candidate. His journey to Spark started in 2016, when he joined Spark as a Development and Communications Intern. In 2017, he returned to Spark as a Development and Operations Associate. Jonathan’s passion to contribute to closing the poverty gap, combined with his distinguished creativity and vision, is what motivates his work as the Development and Operations Coordinator. On his free time, he enjoys long walks with his camera.

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Amanda Ruud
Carolyn Liptak
Jennifer Rider
Yuletpsi Barreto

Amanda Ruud
High School Pathways Program Manager

Amanda has broad experience tutoring, teaching and developing curriculum. After graduating from Tufts University with degrees in Spanish and English literature, she taught 7th grade English and social studies at KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco. Amanda comes to Spark from Saddleback Community College where she led faculty in the design and implementation of academic programming made to meet the needs of all learners. At Spark, Amanda is thrilled to support the success of middle school students as they transition to high school.

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Carolyn Liptak
Controller

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Jennifer Rider
Executive Director

Jennifer is a transformational leader with expertise across multiple disciplines including financial management, program and fund development, impact measurement and operations. With more than 20 years of experience as a consultant and in full-time leadership roles at Junior Achievement of Northern California, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida and more, Jennifer is committed to student success and organizational growth.  Jennifer has an MBA from Rollins College, a Master of Science degree in Education & Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science degree from Alfred University.

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Yuletpsi Barreto
Program Fellow

Yuletpsi grew up in the community of South Gate and went on to University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies and Education. She started to work with Title I schools during her first year through UCLA’s Unicamp, a volunteer based organization that takes student from Los Angeles to a week long sleep away camp in Big Bear. She then started to work with Early Academic Outreach Program, a college readiness program for partnered LAUSD schools. After she graduated from UCLA, she went on to serve as a proud City Year Americorps Member in the community of Watts. She was inspired by these experiences to go on to graduate school to receive a Master of Arts in School Counseling with PPS Credential from Loyola Marymount University as well as work with Spark as a Program Fellow. Yuletpsi aspires to be a school counselor in her community.

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Jeanette Castellanos
Ashley Richardson
Cassidy Leighton
Joseph Balog

Jeanette Castellanos
CEO

Jeanette joins Spark with a proven record in fundraising, program development, and advocacy and with a passion for social change.  In her most recent role as Executive Director of Citizen Schools Illinois, Jeanette strengthened programs and expanded partnerships aimed at closing the achievement and opportunity gaps.  Prior to her time with Citizen Schools, Jeanette served in progressive leadership roles at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, overseeing over a grant portfolio of over $20M and serving as the key architect and driver of the United Way Neighborhood Network Initiative, a model for advancing community-level change in some of the most challenged communities in the Chicago region. Prior to joining United Way, Jeanette dedicated over ten years of her career to addressing issues of sexual violence; leading Illinois’ largest rape crisis program, which provided services to over 100,000 individuals each year. She has served as Board Chair of the Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault and Vice-Chair of the National Board of YWCA USA. She is also a member of the Women United Giving Circle at the Chicago Foundation for Women. Jeanette studied Clinical Psychology at Case Western Reserve University and completed her undergraduate degree at Binghamton University. A native New Yorker, Jeanette currently resides in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park with her son and daughter. 

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Ashley Richardson
Executive Director

Ashley began her career in the private sector when she was selected as one of 15 individuals to participate in a two-year management development program at Kraft Foods. After four years gaining expertise in sales, customer service, consumer analytics and category management, Ashley acted on her long-standing passion for educational access and equity and pursued a full-time career in education. Prior to joining Spark, Ashley was with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) where she led the successful launch of Mentoring the Next Generation, a district-wide initiative that paired more than 500 kindergarten and eighth grade students with caring adult mentors.  Most recently, she served as Special Projects Manager at The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund) where she was responsible for collaborating with CPS leadership to support principal talent management and developing the strategy to support fundraising efforts for the next phase of The Fund’s work.  Ashley holds a Masters of Education in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Vassar College. She is also a Surge Fellow and was part of the inaugural Education Pioneers Yearlong Fellowship.

 

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Cassidy Leighton
Development & Communications Coordinator

Cassidy’s passions for education and building community connections drew her to Spark. She earned her Teacher’s Certification and BA in History from Dickinson College before teaching Social Studies to ninth grade students in Carlisle, PA. Prior to joining Spark, she served two years as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year Philadelphia. In her roles with City Year, she mentored middle school students and planned large-scale school beautification volunteer events across the city.

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Joseph Balog
Senior Program Coordinator

Joe believes that the future is built by young dreamers expanding our idea of what is possible. He has partnered with youth to rehabilitate forests in Michigan, experience summer camp in Kentucky, improve literacy in Kenya and teach English in Mexico. Joe joined Spark through the New Sector Alliance Residency in Social Enterprise Fellowship and holds a B.S. in Sustainable Business from Aquinas College, located in his native state of Michigan. 

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Jim Schroder
Heather Lewis
Deirdre Hake
Jordan Broutman

Jim Schroder
Head of Program

Jim leads the design and implementation of Spark’s Career Exploration and Self-Discovery Program. With more than 10 years of experience in the education sector and a passion for creating diverse partnerships that provide excellent educational opportunities for students, Jim drives program quality, innovation, operations and scalability across the organization. Previously Spark's Executive Director in Philadelphia, Jim grew Spark's impact in the region and managed relationships with key stakeholders, from corporate and community organizations to partnering schools. Prior to Spark, Jim worked as the Director of Corps Learning and Development for City Year Philadelphia. A native of Atlanta and graduate of Williams College, Jim worked at Wesleyan University and Hartford City Mission before completing his master's degree in Non-Profit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. 

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Heather Lewis
Senior Program Manager

A South Bronx native and graduate of Haverford College in the Greater Philadelphia area, Heather commits to program excellence! Her own experience having strong mentors open doors to a top-notch education experience inspired her to dedicate her career to helping youth realize their full potential. Prior to joining Spark, Heather honed her skills in education, volunteer management, and strategic partnerships through service with City Year Greater Philadelphia and AmeriCorps VISTA, and through helping Community Partnership School advance its mission to provide a high quality education to children in North Philadelphia. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering, cooking, doing yoga, and working not to injure herself while running! 

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Deirdre Hake
Executive Director

A results-driven community leader with a proven track record, Deirdre works to grow support for Spark in Philadelphia,  oversees program execution and expands regional partnerships.  Deirdre is familiar with the education and mentoring sectors having spent more than six years in a variety of roles with Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA.  Her background directly supporting children and mentors, as well as building corporate and school partnerships, provides a solid foundation for her career evolution into development, events and annual giving. Deirdre also served as Program Director at Great Dames, Inc. and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Pennsylvania State University. With a passion for people, process and organizational growth, Deirdre will help Spark create sustainable impact in the Philadelphia region.

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Jordan Broutman
Manager of Corporate Partnerships

An Illinois native and College of Wooster graduate, Jordan ensures strong implementation of the Spark Program at our Philadelphia partner schools. Prior to coming to Spark, Jordan developed his passion for empowering youth through his service as a City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member. He served as a student tutor and team leader over a period of two years. While working within Philadelphia schools through his service, Jordan observed first-hand the importance of both project-based and social-emotional learning for middle school students. In his free time he enjoys running, playing violin, and watching the Chicago Cubs.

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Sahrish Saleem
Ashli Owens
Danielle Moehrke
Phil Masters

Sahrish Saleem
Senior Manager of Corporate Partnerships

Sahrish graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Communications and minor in Near Eastern Studies. While in school, Sahrish was a Jumpstart corps member, where she discovered her passion for education. Upon graduating, she joined a two-year teaching fellowship with Citizen Schools Illinois and worked as a second-shift ELA teacher for middle school students on the South Side of Chicago. Sahrish is excited to join the Spark team and help empower students to succeed through skill-building mentorships!

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Ashli Owens
Development Manager

Ashli’s eagerness to close the achievement and opportunity gap for students began early as a college student through research and volunteering.  A native of Michigan, Ashli served as a mentor and tutor providing ACT preparation and college access guidance to high school students in the Metro Detroit area.  After completing her undergraduate studies, Ashli served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for a nonprofit organization where she wrote grants for academic enrichment programs and provided program support.  Ashli is excited to join Spark Chicago as Development Coordinator and enthusiastic to continue motivating students through workplace-based mentoring opportunities.  Ashli graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW).

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Danielle Moehrke
Program Director

Danielle first joined Spark as an intern in the summer of 2012 and returned as a full-time team member during the summer of 2014.  She is passionate about providing hands-on learning opportunities to young people and empowering students to be agents in their own learning.  During and after college, she became hooked on experiential learning models through working with a few organizations including 826CHI, an Expeditionary Learning school in Humboldt Park, and as a team teacher with the non-profit Blue Engine.  Danielle gets really excited about asset-based community development, running, youth empowerment, big cities, NPR and Wisconsin (her home state).  Danielle graduated from Northwestern University where she studied Social Policy and Civic Engagement.

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Phil Masters
Program Manager

Phil began his career in Chicago’s education sector at Kelvyn Park High School as a Math Tutoring Fellow, then as a SAGA Innovations Leadership Fellow. In these roles he tutored math and helped new tutors find success in educating as well as mentoring. His time spent at Kelvyn Park inspired Phil to join Spark to help the youth of Chicago realize their potential, as well as to engage more people in the education of the city’s youth. Phil holds a B.A. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and is a native of Buffalo, New York.

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Jessica Del Real
Monica Peralta
Melvin Noriega
Sophia Sanchez Jimenez

Jessica Del Real
Program Manager

Jessica graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. She discovered her passion for education while serving as a tutor and mentor in a sixth grade classroom for City Year Miami. After graduating from City Year, she served with Public Allies Chicago where she was introduced to Spark. Now, Jessica is excited to work with Spark to inspire Chicago’s youth to continue to broaden their horizons and learn more about their communities.

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Monica Peralta
Program Fellow

Monica Peralta is a first generation college graduate from California State University, Long Beach. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Chicano/a Latino/a Studies and Human Development in 2016. As a member of the Chicano and Latino Studies Student Association at CSULB, Monica became involved in volunteering to provide bilingual tours to Spanish speaking parents and students. The approach to establishing rapport with students was to simply talk about the experiences as a first generation college student. For many of those students, being able to identify with a college student that came from a similar background as them was inspirational. These experiences sparked Monica’s passion to give back to her community. At Spark she is looking forward to continuing that passion. Her goal is to continue her Masters in Education and become a college career counselor. Her long term goal is to become the superintendent of Compton school district.

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Melvin Noriega
Program Manager

Melvin’s journey into higher education began at Los Angeles City College. He then transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where he developed an interest for student services. Upon graduation, he received an Outstanding Contribution to the School of Social Ecology award for his commitment to enhancing the Field Study Program which connects more than 900 students to over 225 community partners annually. Melvin went on to serve as a proud City Year AmeriCorps Member mentoring middle school students in his childhood neighborhood of Westlake, Los Angeles. He then joined City Year’s Civic Engagement Team, and helped execute over 20 large-scale beautification events at different schools throughout the city. Now with Spark, Melvin aims to continue helping students actualize their own potentials.

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Sophia Sanchez Jimenez
Program Director

As the Program Director, Sophia Jimenez leads the team in building strong school partnerships, creating effective strategies for student and family engagement, and piloting a new high school transition program. Sophia has a wealth of experience working with communities to ensure access to high quality resources that create opportunities. A proud native of South Los Angeles and graduate of UCLA, Sophia began her nonprofit career as an AmeriCorps Public Ally fellow, where she worked with families in low-income communities to provide college readiness programs. Sophia later managed programs at the Pueblo del Sol Community Service Center located in Boyle Heights where she helped oversee over 20 youth and family programs. Sophia brings her great energy and passion for service as well as her experience in community and school partnerships, project management, and recruitment. She is excited to bring her passion of social justice and enthusiasm for Spark’s mission to the position of Program Director.

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Gilma Guerra
Tariq El-Gabalawy
Cristen Lain
Michael Kolodner

Gilma Guerra
Program Manager

A first generation college graduate born and raised in Southeast LA, Gilma has seen firsthand how low socioeconomic status affects a person’s mental, physical and emotional well-being. While completing her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Northridge, she focused her studies in better understanding the different cultural and social factors that affect a person’s development. In the spring of 2015, Gilma began her journey with Spark as a Volunteer Program Intern where she assisted with dispatch logistics. Soon after, she became part of the Spark team again, but this time as an AmeriCorps Vista Public Allies Fellow. Gilma is happy to continue with the Spark team in a full-time role. She is an advocate for higher education and is committed to inspiring youth to realize their full potential, despite whatever obstacles may come their way.

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Tariq El-Gabalawy
Program Manager

Tariq El-Gabalawy graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2013, where he began working with various on campus organizations to coordinate programs aimed at engaging at-risk students in their education. After graduation, Tariq continued advocating for educational equality by completing a yearlong internship with Spark in Los Angeles. He then joined the Spark team as a full-time Program Coordinator.  He hopes to build on his experience working with students, schools and mentors to further disrupt the High School dropout rate within the local communities that Spark serves in Los Angeles.

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Cristen Lain
Director of Alumni Programming

Cristen's passion for education and her diverse background led her to Spark. Before joining the organization, she led a Chicago Public High School program for seventh and eighth grade students who were accepted into a unique selective enrollment high school program. She previously taught high school math for five years and also worked many years as a consultant. Cristen is excited to use her experiences in developing programs for students in the middle grades, designing curriculum and creating a program for Spark's alumni students. Cristen has a M.Ed. in Secondary Education with an endorsement in Middle School Education from DePaul University and a B.S. in Mathematics, with Minors in Statistics in Actuarial Science from Loyola University.

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Michael Kolodner
Director of Information Systems

Michael Kolodner spent much of his career designing and managing systems for tracking information. Most recently managing a Salesforce database for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and consulting with a sister organization, Michael has previously designed databases for organizing membership for a co-op swim club to tracking global responses to the 9/11 attacks for the US State Department. Michael earned his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Amherst College and put that degree to work in the Foreign Service, serving in Sana’a, Yemen and Washington, DC. Michael moved back to his home town of Philadelphia, where he supports the local food movement, and enjoys photography. Michael is a member of Spark's Shared Services Team, based out of Spark’s Philadelphia office.

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Heather King, PhD
Amanda Kilibarda Gutierrez
Corinne Becker
Alex Jeong

Heather King, PhD
Director of Evaluation

Heather began her career as a research scientist at the University of Chicago where her work and discoveries made international news. She was also a fellow in the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), which trains graduate-level scientists to integrate a wide range of disciplines into their research. Heather has been passionate about improving education since mentoring middle school girls as a graduate student. After completing her doctorate in evolutionary biology, she then transitioned to Outlier Research & Evaluation at UChicago. At Outlier, Heather studied the implementation of STEM high schools, the landscape of K12 computer science education in the United States, and also led an evaluation of Code.org’s national offerings. She was also an entrepreneurial lead in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps for Learning program (I-Corps-L), a seven-week entrepreneurial bootcamp for education researchers.

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Amanda Kilibarda Gutierrez
Manager, Special Projects

An Indiana native, Amanda is a graduate of Indiana University with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish with minors in Latino Studies and Western European Studies. A founding member of Spark's Chicago region, Amanda joined the team in 2011 as an Americorps VISTA Outreach Coordinator excited to help bring Spark's unique model of individualized learning to Chicago. Prior to joining Spark Amanda volunteered with several organizations committed to improving educational opportunity. Through her work with these programs, Amanda saw firsthand how critical volunteer involvement is in providing learning opportunities for youth in the community, as well as how one-on-one attention empowered students to achieve. Amanda firmly believes that all students should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and never ceases to be amazed by the incredible work of Spark students as they discover new possibilities for the future. After 3 years on the Chicago program team, Amanda joined the Shared Services team in 2014.

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Corinne Becker
Director of Corporate Partnerships

Corinne manages a portfolio of Spark’s corporate partners in Los Angeles to ensure mutually beneficial mentorship and partnership experiences. Prior to joining Spark, Corinne worked within publicity and public affairs at Lifetime Television.  Throughout her career, Corinne has managed a number of social advocacy campaigns, creatively designed to benefit all parties involved, as well as led publicity campaigns for films, television shows and consumer products. Corinne recognized the importance of mentorship while working at an orphanage in Ecuador and is thrilled to continue motivating students through influential mentorship programs at Spark. Corinne hails from the Pacific Northwest and received her Bachelor’s Degree from Willamette University in Political Science and Theatre.

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Alex Jeong
Program Specialist

As a California native, Alex is dedicated to ensuring strong implementation of Spark Bay Area partner schools and companies. Alex holds a BA from the University of Chicago. Living in the South Side of Chicago, he was struck by the socioeconomic disparities of surrounding neighborhoods and made it his mission to empower youth from underserved communities with access to educational and professional opportunities. Previously, Alex worked in the State Senate office of Illinois’ 13th District, where President Obama began his political career; as well as with MetroSquash, a nonprofit that engages underserved Chicago youth using squash and academics as tools to foster college-readiness. Alex has also worked at Mikva Challenge, a nonprofit that promotes youth civics and political engagement, and taught high school math in Chicago Public Schools, with a Fellowship from Match Education.

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Kevin Gardner
Angela Chen
Dave Martin
Anna Clabaugh

Kevin Gardner
Grants Manager for California Regions

Kevin made his way to Spark after honing his communications and project management skills at two startups: Mission Asset Fund, an economic development nonprofit with a fin-tech twist, and Cribspot, a Y Combinator company that helps renters find housing. His experience ranges from independently spearheading a full overhaul of Cribspot’s web content to managing a team of seven to develop MAF’s 2015 annual report. He recently completed the New Sector RISE Fellowship, an AmeriCorps program designed to cultivate a new generation of nonprofit leaders. With his command of language and knack for storytelling, Kevin lends a fresh voice to Spark’s development team during this exciting time of growth.

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Angela Chen
Development and Operations Coordinator

A San Francisco native, Angela brings a diverse breadth of experience in the areas of sales development, client relationship building, program management and business operations. Prior to joining Spark, Angela was an Assistant Director at C2 Education, where she individualized strategic roadmaps for K-12 students to help them reach their academic goals, cultivated long-term relationships with families and tutors, and established high-impact partnerships with local schools. As an advocate for youth development and learning, Angela was previously also a grant writer for a nonprofit called City Youth Now, and volunteered as a GED tutor for teens who were in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. She is excited to be part of the Spark team. Angela holds BAs in Politics and Legal Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Dave Martin
Head of People Operations

Dave brings to Spark more than 15 years of diverse and extensive experience in people management and operations with such companies as Netflix, Inte Q and Avatar Solutions.  A true champion of his coworkers and their respective talents, Dave excels at communicating effectively with all levels of an organization - building trust and commitment as well as driving operational efficiency, job satisfaction and productivity that are natural outcomes of a connected and engaged team. As a leader, Dave is most proud of his work strategizing, collaborating and enabling others to succeed and thrive in their careers. Dave holds a B.A. in English Composition from DePauw University and is a Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).

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Anna Clabaugh
Corporate Partnerships Coordinator

Anna received her undergraduate degree from Scripps College in Environmental Analysis, cum laude, with a concentration in environmental education and policy. During college, she worked at male juvenile detention camps to provide lesson planning and teaching assistance in Earth Science, Nutrition, and Career Pathways. After graduating, she co-directed the Los Angeles office for a nationwide nonprofit focusing on public health and environmental advocacy campaigns. Anna then went on to organize recruitment and strengthen partnerships for Los Angeles’ region of the California Conservation Corps, a youth development program which offers paid opportunities in natural resource management. She developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector and connecting youth to meaningful possibilities. As the Los Angeles Corporate Partnerships Coordinator, Anna supports Spark’s corporate partner portfolio by bringing experience and enthusiasm to fortify and expand partnerships increasing visibility of Spark’s powerful program. When she’s not at work, you can find her rescuing, rehabilitating and fostering dogs.

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Board Members

Executive Board
Aaron Meyerson, Managing Director, Qualia Legacy Advisors Adnan Rizvi, Vice President, Strategic Sourcing & Procurement at Realtor.com Alan Braverman, Founder & CEO, Textline Alicia Winckler, President and CEO of A WIN Consulting, LLC; former Chief Talent Officer at Chicago Public Schools and Strategic Talent and Human Capital Executive in Private Sector Alyssa Rapp, Principal, AJR Ventures; Lecturer in Management, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Anjai “AJ” Gandhi, Vice President, Sales Strategy & Operations at RingCentral Antonio Jackson, Cincinnati Insurance Company Ben Rowe, Board Treasurer; Managing Partner, KHP Capital Partners Britton Picciolini, Google for Education Caitlin Roberson, Founder & CEO, CLEAR Worldwide Carolyn Frey, Chief People Officer, Philz Coffee Chris Balme, Spark Co-Founder; Head of School, Millennium School David Furlin, U.S. Trust David Leiter, KPMG LLP Deborah Ramo, Founder and CEO, Amavitae Corporation Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook, Board Chair; Vice President, Student Success and Engagement, Wheelock College Elena Gomez, Chief Financial Officer, Zendesk Gabe Cortes, Chief Financial Officer, Grand Rounds, Inc. Hanh Dao, Senior Product Manager, Capital Group Holly Depatie, Board Chair Emeritus; Philanthropist, Advocate and Activist, Writer James Evans, Entertainment Cruises, Inc.; Executive Board Chair James Ramo, President, Allenwood Ventures James Ramo, President, Allenwood Ventures Jeff Markowitz, Partner, Greylock Jeffrey Ryan, Senior Vice President of Professional Operations and Business Development, Cancer Treatment Centers of America - Eastern Regional Medical Center Jessica Mulholland, Chief Financial Officer, Exude Inc. Jesus Ramos, Spanish Instructor/Independent Study Coordinator, Sacred Heart Schools Joan Chu Reese, Former Partner, Monitor Group Kristin Torres Mowat, Senior Vice President Corporate Development, Castlight Health Madeleine Durkin, Board Chair; Partner, Social Venture Partners Maureen Lang, Gartner Melissa Govette, Vice President, Commercial Real Estate, M&T Bank Michael Levinson, Product Management Director, Facebook Michael Schlesinger, Principal, Cambra Realty MR Macgill, President, MRM Consulting Nancy Corshen, Senior Vice President, Technology Legal, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Nayan Shah, Deloitte Paul Melchiorre, Chief Revenue Officer, Anaplan Principal Cleophas (CJ) Rodgers, Dewey School of Excellence Robert Perrin, Partner and Co-Chair of Litigation Department, Latham & Watkins LLP Robin Lavin, The Osa Foundation; Executive Board Chair Emeritus Rodney Prezeau, Consumer Platform, Managing Director at Aviva Roger Zino, CEO, DBi Services Sam Pambah, KPMG LLP Sarah Friar, Board Vice Chair; Chief Financial Officer, Square Susan Salop, Director, APAC and Japan Advertising Cloud, Adobe Timothy Jones, Motorola Solutions Titus Campos, Instructional Director, Los Angeles Unified School District Tracey Parry, Leader in Corporate Communications and Public Relations Valerie Brown, Employment Counsel, Comcast Cable
Advisory Board
Abraham El, Advisory Board Chairperson: Staff Engineer, Pennoni Associates Alexandra Davis, Financial Advisor, Portfolio Manager & Financial Planning Specialist Morgan Stanley Alison Rikson, Advisory Board Vice Chairperson: Audit Senior Manager – AERS, Deloitte & Touche LLP Anna-Claire Whitehead, Noah’s Arc Foundation Anthony Overstreet, Product Specialist, Facebook Ashley Quintana, Community Outreach Coordinator, Facebook, Spark Alumna Ashlie Woods, Board Chair; Private Wealth Advisor, Goldman Sachs Atul Deshmukh, Senior Manager, Solution Delivery, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates Ben Allen, California State Senator Brendan Chan, Program Manager, Google Bunny Tucker, Intern Architect, KieranTimberlake Associates Casey Hatch, BMO Charles Calloway, Chapman & Cutler LLP; Advisory Board Chair Chris Hammond, CEO, Corporate Giving Connection Christopher Hill, Principal, Comcast Ventures; Board Member, Workforce Investment Board Collin Starkweather, Charles River Associates Elizabeth Ko Youn, Vice President, Crescent Capital Group Erin Carlson, Specialty Consultant, Jazz Pharmaceuticals Gabriel D. Torres, Associate Vice President, Morgan Stanley Garen Corbett, Board Chair; Director, California Health Benefits Review Program, University of California Gianna Tripodi-Bhise, Director, Foundation & Corporate Relations, WHYY Gordana Radmilovic, West Monroe Partners Jahan Hardy, Director of Finance, CBS Television Distribution Jaleesa Hazzard, CEO, Hazzard Consulting Group Kalpana Chandrasekhar, VP of Customer Experience, HotelTonight Kelley Birch, Research Analyst, Franklin Templeton Investments Kristina Oderinde, KPMG; Advisory Board Vice Chair Manisha Taparia, Product and Engagement Manager, Bloomreach Marco Marraccini, Associate Principal, Abramson Teiger Architects Margo Arnold, Attorney, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Matthew DeGrand, Gartner Matthew Lew, Artist Michael Davis, Healthcare Risk Advisory Manager, Wipfli LLP Michael Zullo, Advisory Board Chairperson Emeritus: Partner, Duane Morris LLP Odette Go, VP and Treasurer, Lam Research Paige Lipman, Program Manager, Cornerstone OnDemand Patricia Eberwine, Of Counsel, Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan LLP Paul Warkins, EY Regina Enriquez, Advisory Board Secretary: Real Estate Agent, Keller Williams Realty Inc. Rich Hurh, LinkedIn Robert Nieves, Operations Manager, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Ronil Prasad, Director, Regional Marketing and Product Strategy North America, Aviat Networks Shireen Javandel, Research Coordinator, UCSF Spencer Anderson, Business Operations, Atrium LTS Stacey Derkatch, Senior Consultant, Innovation Protocol Stephen Harris, Boeing Teresa Lopez, Content Strategy Lead, SEER Interactive Tiffany Bristol, Google Tina Lambert, Tyson Foods Tom Yankowski, President, Center for Career Evaluation

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