Our Team

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The Spark Team

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

Robin M. Keefe
Sheyla Uzquiano
Tanvi Dharap
Melissa Elizalde

Robin M. Keefe
Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director: Spark in the Bay

Robin M. Keefe was the founder and President of BookEnds. Through her passionate and focused leadership, Robin developed a community of people to grow BookEnds as a distinguished Los Angeles leader in introducing children to philanthropy as they worked to fill the barren bookshelves in their neighborhood schools and youth organizations. More than one million children learned the power of community service through the donation of over three million books to create nearly 700 libraries throughout Los Angeles.

BookEnds’ programs were successfully transitioned into three nonprofit organizations in 2015 to drive scale and economy in support of the national initiative for sustainable nonprofit organizations.

Robin then assumed the position of Interim CEO for The Beauty Bus Foundation and then for Karma Rescue, tasked with reorganizing these emerging nonprofit organizations to position them for strength and scale in the delivery of their missions.

Robin’s early career was in the real estate development and finance field, including industrial brokerage, corporate site acquisition for a national bank and a national restaurant chain and commercial real estate development. But she found a growing passion for philanthropy and children as she served on numerous community boards of directors. Robin joined these passions in 1998 with the founding of BookEnds.

Robin continues to focus her passion on the development of our youth in community service.  She is an active participant and guest lecturer at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Policy and Pepperdine University’s School of Business and Communication, engaging students in entrepreneurial nonprofit leadership. Robin has served on the boards of directors of 14 diverse nonprofit organizations.

Among her numerous honors is her most cherished:  “The Angel Award for Service” presented to Robin by Oprah Winfrey.

Robin graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, Finance and a minor in Art History.  Robin joined Spark in the Bay Area as Executive Director in 2018.

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Sheyla Uzquiano
Program Director

Sheyla joins Spark in the Bay with extensive experience supporting families and students in the education space. Most recently, Sheyla worked as a High School Success Advisor with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula in Redwood City. Prior to that Sheyla served as an AmeriCorps member and Team Leader with City Year Los Angeles. Sheyla was born in Bolivia and raised in the Los Angeles area before moving to the Bay Area in 2017. She has a B.A. in Cognitive Psychology from UC Irvine and an M.A. in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University. When not working, she enjoys exploring the many different cities and microclimates of the Bay Area, landscape photography, and all things Disney!
 
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Tanvi Dharap
Program Associate

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Tanvi graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s/Gender/Sexuality Studies. She has worked with youth ranging in age from two to eighteen as a clinical mental health professional, instructor, and outdoor educator. Her connection with students is deeply grounded in compassion, formed by a commitment to equity, and maintained through genuine and infectious enthusiasm. She is excited to bring her love of mentorship and relationship building to her work with Spark! In her free time, she enjoys singing, exploring and enjoying nature, and befriending neighborhood dogs.
 
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Melissa Elizalde
Program Associate

Melissa is an educational equity advocate, teacher, and youth leader whose passion and commitment have led her to Spark. She is a Bay Area native who graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology-Social Services and minors in Education and Psychology. After college she served for two years as an AmeriCorps member developing social emotional and literacy skills amongst at-promise East Oakland students. She looks forward to tapping into the unbridled curiosity, energy, and possibility of Spark students as a Program Associate. 

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Lucy Brennan
Natalia Bautista
Gabriella Baxter
Claire Newfeld

Lucy Brennan
Corporate Partnerships Manager

Originally from Chicago, Lucy moved to the Bay Area in 2013 to study Sociology at UC Berkeley. She's worked with students in various capacities since she was a high school student herself, and in college had the incredible opportunity to coordinate after school mentorship programming for middle schoolers. Upon graduating, she was motivated by a goal to provide opportunities for critical relationship building among geographically proximal, yet culturally disparate, groups of people. She is thrilled to have found a position at Spark that allows for this type of hands-on learning. Outside of work she wanders the city, listens to true crime podcasts, and begins (sometimes even finishes) countless art projects.

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Natalia Bautista
, Program Manager in East Palo Alto

Hailing from the south side of Chicago, Natalia Bautista graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She began working in the nonprofit sector soon after graduating and moved to the Bay Area in 2012. Throughout her career as a support counselor, bilingual case manager, and academic advisor, she provided high-school students with academic and social-emotional support to promote a growth mindset and emotional wellbeing. 

In her leisure time, she explores the historical landmarks and colorful neighborhoods of San Francisco with her partner and friends. She enjoys reading psychological books, especially by her favorite researcher, Dr. Philip Zimbardo. She hopes to attend graduate school to further her education in Marriage and Family Therapy and become a role model for other Latinxs. 

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Gabriella Baxter
Development and Operations Manager

Gabriella Baxter, a Bay Area native, graduated from San Francisco State University in 2015 with a degree in Anthropology. Gabriella completed her last year of undergrad in Sweden at Linneaus University studying Global Studies and Peace and Development. Prior to Spark, Gabriella has worked with youth through AmeriCorps as an Education Advocate for foster youth and out of home probation in San Francisco and as a Community Youth and Gender Empowerment Volunteer in Peace Corps, Fiji. Gabriella began as a Program Manager with Spark, managing their San Francisco school and corporate partners and has newly transitioned into the role of Development and Operations Manager for Spark in the Bay Outside of work, Gabriella enjoys traveling nationally and internationally, taking her dog on whatever adventure she can.

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Claire Newfeld
, Fellow

Originally from Tempe, Arizona, Claire graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Philosophy in May 2019 and joins Spark as a Program Fellow during her gap year between college and law school. Her professional mission is "to enact the greatest change through its most fundamental catalysts," and this mission has guided her through various positions with non-profit organizations such as Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona and Amnesty International. She believes that education is one of those fundamental catalysts for change and is excited to pursue educational equity and enrichment through her work with Spark. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, art museums, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.  
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Bay Area Board Members

Executive Board
AJ Gandhi, Chief Growth Officer, Marin Equity Partners Alan Braverman, Founder & CEO, Textline Garen Corbett, Co-Board Chair; Director, California Health Benefits Review Program, University of California Kalpana Chandrasekhar, Operations and Customer Focused Advisor MR Macgill, President, MRM Consulting Nan Guo, Vice President of Engineering, Zendesk Renee Mendez, EY Susan Salop, Global Sales and Operations Executive
Advisory Board
Andrew Covarrubias, Associate Release Manager, Salesforce Annie Fisher, Senior Program Manager, Capital One Anthony Overstreet, Product Specialist, Facebook Ashley Quintana, Public Policy Manager, Facebook, Spark Alumna Jasmine ShahProduct Manager, VMware Jessica De Leon, Senior Manager, HR, Salesforce Kelly SalanceCSR Program and Content Manager, Zendesk Michael Davis, Information Security Risk Manager, Wipfli LLP Nicole Bruno, Development Manager, Bring Change to Mind Nicole LeBlanc, Lead UX Writer, Lyft Odette Go, VP and Treasurer, Lam Research
Board of Directors
Garen Corbett, Co-Board Chair; Director, California Health Benefits Review Program, University of California MR Macgill, President, MRM Consulting Renee Mendez, EY

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