Spark welcomes Ashley Richardson as Executive Director of the organization’s Chicago region. Richardson will lead the Chicago team, deepen partnerships with the business community and oversee strategy and execution of fundraising and program.
Richardson 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, Richardson acted on her long-standing passion for educational access and equity and pursued a full-time career in education.
“Ashley’s combination of strategic planning work, programmatic understanding and fundraising experience make her a tremendous addition to Spark’s leadership team,” said Kathleen S. Caliento, PhD, former Executive Director of Spark in Chicago.
Prior to joining Spark, Richardson 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.
“Spark offers a unique opportunity for me to leverage my diverse experience and expand my leadership in the education and mentoring fields,” said Richardson. “I am inspired by what this organization has accomplished and look forward to helping more students explore careers and gain the experiences they need to be successful high schoolers and adults.”
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 currently a 2017 Surge Fellow and was also part of the inaugural Education Pioneers Yearlong Fellowship.