Meet Leon: Spark’s Newest Board Member
A warm welcome our newest member of Spark’s Board of Directors- Leon Reed! With over 25 years of experience as a science and engineering professional, Leon’s passion for education, his volunteer work with Spark Ventures and Hope Community School, and his commitment to give back to the Chicago community, Leon’s service on Spark’s board will make our organization stronger and help us deepen our impact. Let’s learn a bit more about Leon…
We are thrilled to introduce you to the Spark community, Leon! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Leon: For 25 years or so, I worked as a key member of the High Energy Physics Division at Argonne National Laboratory. Two of my main projects are world-renowned physics experiments: ZEUS, built at (DESY) Hamburg, Germany, to study high energy scattering between electron-proton collisions; and ATLAS, built to study proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. I’m the older of six brothers, and spent my childhood in the Harold L. Ickes Homes, a Chicago public housing project near the south side. Until the seventh grade, I attended John C. Haines Elementary School in Chinatown. After, I moved to Englewood and finished grades seven and eight at Copernicus Elementary School. I’m a military U.S. Navy Veteran, and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago Engineering Department.
How were you first introduced to Spark?
Leon: In 2021, I worked with Hope Community School and the Zambia “Math Is Fun!” ninth grade learners as a substitute teacher. Shortly after, I volunteered on a more permanent basis with Hope Community School and the Zambia “Math Is Fun!” seventh and eighth grade learners.
Could you share some of your involvement with the programming at Spark’s partner organizations? What do you find inspiring and impactful?
Leon: My initial connection to Spark Ventures was through the Spark Inspiration Lab at the We Grow Chicago Peace Campus, which I helped to set up. Currently, two days a week, the Spark coordinator for “Math Is Fun!” provides me with a digital link and zooming session with Zambia educators, education support personnel, and Hope community learners. I find that the Hope Community School Learners are most impactful; their willpower and courage motivate me and inspire me spiritually.
What are you looking forward to as a new director on Spark’s board?
Leon: I am proud of being Spark’s newest board member, and I would like to contribute as a successful team player. With my personal and professional experience, I’m looking forward to broadening the organizational perspectives customary with Spark Ventures’ universal goals, mission, and purpose.