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Women at the Helm

  |   #girleffect, chicago, girls, organization, spark ventures, women's empowerment

From chairing our Board of Directors to managing our grassroots, community partner organizations, women are in key decision-making roles and will continue to lead the charge as we move into our second decade of impact. We are excited to feature a few of these incredible leaders here…


Spark Ventures Leadership


Patti O’Neil  |  Chair, Board of Directors


The Spark Ventures Board of Directors provides broad oversight of the financial and organizational health of Spark Ventures, at the helm our Board Chair, Patti O’Neil leads the group: “I am proud to work alongside so many talented women as we work to empower future female leaders around the world.”



Kathy Wolf  |  Vice Chair, Board of Directors


Kathy joined the Spark Ventures Board of Directors in 2014 after traveling to Zambia in January of that year. Since then, she has returned two additional times and is planning a 4th trip with her full family this summer. She has also traveled to our Nicaraguan partner. Kathy has served as Events Chair on the Spark Ventures Board for the past few years and has led multiple successful fundraising events.



Julie Tafel Klaus  |  Board of Directors


Julie joined the Spark Ventures board in 2016, bringing with her 15+ years of experiences in philanthropy. As an avid traveler, Julie is an incredibly valuable voice as we seek to expand Spark’s impact globally in the coming years.




Jennifer Kim  |  Board of Directors


Jennifer Kim joined the Spark Ventures board in 2016. In an interview for our 2016 Annual Report, she had this to say about our work: “I’m excited by Spark Ventures’ dedication to making meaningful relationships with community partners. They are providing support and expertise to achieve true impact at a local level.”



Lisa Madonia  |  Board of Directors


A long-time Spark Ventures supporter, Lisa is a new Spark Ventures board member, joining in 2017 after a life-changing trip to Zambia. She has enthusiastically embraced her new role on the board, and will be the Event Chair for our upcoming 10th Anniversary Celebration on October 12th – more event details on that, here.



Lesley Brindle  |  Associate Board


Lesley is a long time Spark Ventures supporter. A previous member of the Young Professionals of Spark, and now an Associate Board member, she traveled in March to Nicaragua: “My favorite part of the trip was witnessing the powerful impact of Las Tías firsthand. It was moving to meet the founding women of the organization and learn about their commitment to improving the lives of children and families in León. The spirit and dedication of the women of Las Tías is remarkable.” Read our full interview with Lesley, here.


Stephanie Denzer  |  Marketing Manager, Spark Ventures Staff


For over five years, Stephanie Denzer has held the reigns to the Spark Ventures brand. From website to print materials, social media to annual report, her graphic design pieces and carefully crafted content play a key role in telling the Spark Ventures story.



Nicaragua Leadership


Justa RivasChair, Las Tías Board of Directors


As one of the founding “tías” (which means aunts in Spanish), Tía Justa now leads the Las Tías Board of Directors. She cares passionately about all the children in the programs as if they were her own – in fact, her own granddaughters are indeed Las Tías student beneficiaries and attend the programs daily.



Griselda Pantoja  |  Las Tías Leader & Educator


“My favorite part of my job is being the first to teach the little ones their alphabet and numbers.”





Zambia Leadership


Margaret Mumba  |  Co-Founder, Hope Ministries


“My hopes and dreams are that the children and staff at Hope School will fulfill their potential.”





Judy Daka  |  Senior Hope Community School Teacher


“I would love to be remembered as someone who really wanted to bring change in the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.” Learn more about Teacher Judy’s story here.





This is just a glimpse at some of the women at the helm here at Spark Ventures and in Zambia and Nicaragua. This listing is by no means comprehensive… there are so many women who make our work possible. A special thanks to you if you are one of them!