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