We are a passionate, innovative and collaborative team focused on celebrating students and promoting possibility.
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.
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.
Desiree Martinez is a proud native from South Central Los Angeles and a first generation college graduate from UCLA. Upon experiencing the lack of representation of students of color at UCLA, she began to advocate for education reform in order to fight for the empty seats in higher education that her classmates didn't have the opportunity to fill. As a member of Students For Education Reform, she gained exposure to grassroots organizing. Her experiences in her community propelled her to work in social justice education advocacy work. As a Spark Program Fellow, Desiree continues her passion in closing the achievement gap. Her goal is to one day work for the CA Department of Education to improve the quality of education for all students.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the Executive Director of Spark in Los Angeles, Janine Berridge is responsible for managing the regional team, deepening and expanding Spark’s impact with the LA business community and overseeing the strategy and execution of fundraising initiatives. Prior to joining Spark, Janine was a Senior Executive in the Major Partnerships Unit at Plan UK, a leading international child development organization operating in 50 countries. Janine was responsible for securing multi-million dollar donations from Fortune 500 companies, and managing the relationships through multi-year, international development programs. Specializing in business development and cross-sector collaboration, Janine’s passion is to contribute to sustainable social change, working strategically across sectors to maximize partnership impact. Janine holds a BA in Journalism from Cardiff University and a Masters in Public Policy from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
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.
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.
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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