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Our Team

Spark’s Co-Founders

Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson
Cofounder

With a business background in marketing, Rich Johnson co-founded Spark Ventures after a 2006 trip to Zambia. As CEO during Spark’s first decade, Rich’s leadership helped to raise millions of dollars to fund partners and projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. Rich’s vision for business driven philanthropy and impact travel laid the foundation for the successful organization Spark Ventures is today and he continues to serve in a leadership role on the board of directors. He has spoken at SXSW’s entrepreneur’s conference, Chicago Ideas Week, Technori and other events. In his free time you’ll find him hiking, reading or running with his dogs, Zambezi and Kia.

Scott Barbeau

Scott Barbeau
Cofounder

Scott Barbeau is co-founder of Spark Ventures and has served on the board since its inception. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He spent the first 15 years of his professional career working at Lucent Technologies, Parson Group, and Hyperion Solutions in sales and management roles. He is the founder of UpBeat Music and Arts, a Chicago-based non-profit music school that provides mentoring and music education.  Scott is employed as a professional musician, playing keyboards in the band Sixteen Candles and teaching music.

Daniel Marcus

Daniel Marcus
Board of Directors

Daniel Marcus is co-founder of Spark Ventures and has served on the board since its inception. He was born in Santiago, Chile and immigrated to the United States at the age of 8 years old with his parents and two brothers. Dan attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he  received a BA in Economics.  He has worked in finance most of his career. He  worked at Bear Stearns and currently is an Investment Advisor at Marcus  Capital, LLC. Dan has been involved with various charities including 10 years as a Child Life Specialist at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago and two years at The Night Ministry, working to serve homeless and runaway youth.

Staff

The current Spark Ventures staff works out of our Chicago office located on the 16th Floor of 208 South LaSalle Street. Coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, we are united in our commitment to Spark’s unique mission to help vulnerable children achieve their potential through grassroots partnerships around the world.

Kristin Schrepferman
Executive Director

Kristin Schrepferman
Executive Director

Kristin Schrepferman has been an enthusiastic supporter of Spark since 2014 and officially joined the Spark team in October 2017. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She has over 28 years of experience in marketing, sales, and operations. She has a long history of dedication to children in need. Her most rewarding life experiences have come from foster parenting, adoption, volunteering, mentoring, and working in schools with students from some of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. Kristin is driven by the belief that communities can be lifted out of poverty and individuals can be empowered to thrive if they have the opportunity to receive a quality education, healthcare, and nutrition in an environment that is safe and nurturing.

Stephanie Denzer
Strategic Communications Consultant

Stephanie Denzer
Strategic Communications Consultant

Stephanie serves as Strategic Communications Consultant for Spark Ventures. She is passionate about innovative, sustainable poverty alleviation. She previously worked supporting microfinance institutions with the Grameen Foundation’s Human Capital Center. As an undergraduate, while living and studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina she worked for a social development organization called HelpArgentina. She has also worked supporting the international hub of Pro Mujer, a women’s development and microfinance organization. Stephanie received her BA in Hispanic Studies with a Specialization in Economics from Columbia University in New York City, a masters degree from the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations and is fluent in Spanish.

Gwyn Thomas
Marketing & Events Manager

Gwyn Thomas
Marketing & Events Manager

Gwyn was welcomed into the Spark team as Marketing & Events Manager in July of 2018. She has been a part of Spark’s mission since 2016 after attending a trip to Zambia and then serving as Intern thereafter. She has her Bachelor’s Degree from North Park University where she studied Business & Economics with a focus in non-profit fundraising, marketing, and strategic management. She has since visited each of Spark’s global partnerships. Gwyn can always be found exploring new restaurants or spending her free time on the lake.

Michelle Morin
Finance & CRM Manager

Michelle Morin
Finance & CRM Manager

Michelle Morin joined the Spark team as the Finance & CRM Manager in August 2018. She was raised in St. Petersburg, FL and resides in Tampa, FL. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in finance from the University of South Florida and her MBA from Tampa College. Michelle is a wife and a mother of two. She is currently a grade level coordinator at her son’s school, the same school in which her daughter graduated from last year. She was also a past treasurer for the PSA and served on the school gala and fashion show fund raiser committees for several years. Michelle enjoys spending time with her family, watching her son play baseball and guitar, and being outdoors at the beach. Michelle is so excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Spark team and hopes to visit our partner in Zambia soon!

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors provides broad oversight of the financial and organizational health of Spark Ventures. Specifically, the Board is involved in fundraising, setting policy and ensuring continued alignment to Spark’s mission, vision and goals. The Board meets quarterly and works closely with the CEO to accomplish these objectives.

Michael Campbell, Chair

Michael Campbell
Vice Chair

Michael Campbell joined the Spark Board of Directors in 2018. He received a BS from Purdue University in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and spent the beginning of his professional career co-founding and developing several successful start-ups. Michael brings over 30 years of experience in enterprise technology, currently as the CEO of Fusion Risk Management, the leader in Business Continuity and Risk Management solutions. He also brings a unique global perspective and strategic insight to Spark’s board. Michael is a proud father to three beautiful and intelligent daughters and currently lives in Chicago.

Scott Barbeau

Scott Barbeau
Board of Directors

Scott Barbeau is co-founder of Spark Ventures and has served on the board since its inception. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He spent the first 15 years of his professional career working at Lucent Technologies, Parson Group, and Hyperion Solutions in sales and management roles. He is the founder of UpBeat Music and Arts, a Chicago-based non-profit music school that provides mentoring and music education.  Scott is employed as a professional musician, playing keyboards in the band Sixteen Candles and teaching music.

Constance Benrud

Constance Benrud
Board of Directors

Constance was first introduced to Spark Ventures in 2014 and traveled to Nicaragua with the organization shortly thereafter.  Since then she has been a huge fan of Spark and enthusiastically joined the board in 2018.  She holds a Bachelors Degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and has 20 years of sales and marketing experience, with 15 of those years in the global market place.  She began her career in the hotel industry and transitioned into the publishing industry.  As an executive with World Book International, she oversaw the company’s marketing efforts in 30 countries throughout the world, in addition to developing and executing major events throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.  Since Constance’s departure from the corporate sector, she has worked with and supported a variety of philanthropic organizations in Kenya, Tanzania, China, Romania, Guatemala, Indonesia and Cameroon.  Currently she also serves on the Board of Directors of Prevent AIDS Africa, an organization that works to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa through a sustainable program of education, prevention, and treatment in connection with local partners.  Constance resides in Chicago.

Sue Bernstein

Sue Bernstein
Board of Directors

 

Sue first learned about Spark through her daughter, Stephanie Denzer (Spark’s Strategic Communications Consultant), who invited Sue to join her in Zambia for a trip in 2013. Sue recently traveled with Spark to Zambia in January 2020 for her seventh visit there! Sue has also visited our partners in Nicaragua and Mexico. She has sponsored several Spark events in Kansas since her first trip to Zambia. She thoroughly enjoyed hosting Hope teacher Judy Daka in Kansas in late 2017. She is now focused on promoting partnerships between students, teachers and families in Zambia with their peers in the U.S, and assisting with our grant writing. Sue started her professional career as an attorney in Los Angeles in the 1980’s, but quickly realized that wasn’t for her. She has enjoyed being involved in her kids’ education, including serving as a Girl Scout leader for 13 years, and as everything from room parent to “picture lady” to president of the school parents’ association. She has had leadership roles in several other nonprofits, including serving as Board Chair of a small private school in Kansas. Sue has also chaired several fundraising auctions and events. Spark is grateful to have Sue’s experience on our team.
Julie Cook

Julie Cook
Board of Directors

Julie is a graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Accounting/Business Administration. After starting her professional career in the public accounting and consulting sector, she has spent the last 20 years in the healthcare software industry; primarily assisting clients with implementing electronic healthcare practice management records.  

Julie attended her first Spark event in 2010 and has been a supporter ever since, visiting Entreamigos in 2016 and again in 2020 before the pandemic shut down travel. She has also visited Hope Community School in 2019 and has participated in the Events Committee since 2016. Julie resides in Chicago with her husband and four-legged furball. She loves traveling, baseball, checking out new restaurants and live music.
Julie Tafel Klaus, Vice Chair

Julie Tafel Klaus
Board of Directors

Julie, the proud mother of twin girls, lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California but was born in Pittsburg, PA and raised outside of Chicago. She attended the University of the Pacific where she received her BFA in Commercial Design and Business. She also did her post-graduate studies at The Art Institute of Chicago. After a successful sales career in high-technology publishing, Julie has spent the past 15 years focused on philanthropic efforts. In addition to being on several non-profit Boards, she has chaired numerous fund raising events for a variety of organizations. Julie has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, the Middle East, India and South America. Julie and her daughter first traveled with Spark to Nicaragua with Spark in 2016. Julie has traveled to Spark’s partners in Mexico and Zambia several times and can’t wait to visit them again soon.

Kathy Campbell Wolf, Secretary

Kathy Campbell Wolf
Vice Chair

Kathy Campbell Wolf’s passion for Spark first ignited when she first traveled to Zambia in January of 2014. Coming back to the states inspired, she joined Spark’s Board of Directors that same year as part of her transition to non profit work from a 20 year career in the fashion industry as an agent, producer and business owner. A proud mother of two, Kathy previously joined the Board of Directors for her daughter’s adoption agency – the Adoption Center of Illinois (formerly the Family Resource Center) and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Chicago based non-profit HelloBaby. Kathy has fully immersed herself and her family with Spark’s partners, traveling to Nicaragua and Mexico twice each, and back to Zambia seven more times. Kathy’s determination to help those in need has made her an indispensable addition to Spark Ventures’ leadership.

Richard Johnson, Cofounder

Richard Johnson
Cofounder

With a business background in marketing, Rich Johnson co-founded Spark Ventures after a 2006 trip to Zambia. As CEO during Spark’s first decade, Rich’s leadership helped to raise millions of dollars to fund partners and projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. Rich’s vision for business driven philanthropy and impact travel laid the foundation for the successful organization Spark Ventures is today and he continues to serve in a leadership role on the board of directors. He has spoken at SXSW’s entrepreneur’s conference, Chicago Ideas Week, Technori and other events. In his free time you’ll find him hiking, reading or running with his dogs, Zambezi and Kia.

Jennifer Kim

Jennifer Kim
Board of Directors

Board of Director member Jennifer Kim loves adventure and has traveled extensively around the world. In June 2016, she took her family to Nicaragua on their first Spark Ventures trip. Since then, they have traveled to both of our partners in Zambia and Mexico. After living abroad in London and more recently in New York City, Jennifer now resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. Jennifer holds a B.A. in Biology and Philosophy from Boston University and a Master’s in Public Health from Tulane University with a focus on Health Education and Maternal/Child Health.

 

Throughout her life, Jennifer has dedicated her time and efforts to a number of causes. As a student, she volunteered in Kenya building a school for children. Subsequently, she worked in the outreach program with the International Red Cross in London and traveled to Sri Lanka to aid in the recovery of the 2004 Tsunami. For the last 14 years, she has volunteered with the Junior League in a number of capacities including fundraising, event planning, leadership, and tutoring underprivileged children in London and Chicago. She has served as a co-chair of the Latin School of Chicago gala, as the Lower School Vice President of the Parent Association and continues to volunteer in many capacities at the school. She serves on the Events and Partners committees for Spark Ventures. It is a pleasure to have Jennifer on the Spark team.

Doak Elliott, Treasurer

Doak Elliott
Treasurer

Doak Elliott is a Spark board member and is currently serving as the Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair.  He began supporting Spark in 2013, as one of the founding members of the Associate Board. While on the Associate Board, he served in several leadership roles, including the Associate Board Chair.  He has traveled to all of Spark’s partner organizations.

 

Doak attended Oklahoma State University where he graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Accounting.  After moving to Chicago in 2005, he spent 11 years at Ernst and Young (EY) in the firm’s Advisory Services Practice, where he helped numerous clients maximize their Internal Audit and Internal Controls functions.  Doak also served as the Central Region Leader for the firm’s College Mentoring for Access and Persistence program.  In this role, he led hundreds of EY volunteers who mentored first-generation college students.

Doak is currently the Director of Internal Audit at US Foods, one of the country’s largest foodservice distributors.  Additionally, he has helped to organize the company’s volunteer and fundraising efforts in support of organizations that are helping food insecure families across the Chicagoland area.

Lisa Madonia

Lisa Madonia
Board of Directors

Lisa was born in Portland, Oregon and spent her later childhood in Carmel, Indiana. She is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana where she earned a B.A. in Economics/Business Administration and Psychology.

 

Lisa has worked as a senior broker and founding member at @ properties, Chicago’s top ranking real estate brokerage, for over 16 years. She has consistently ranked as one of @ properties top producers and has been recognized by the Chicago Association of Realtors for her sales volume. Her expertise includes marketing and sales of new construction developments, selling individual property listings, and helping buyers find that special home. Before entering the world of real estate, Lisa spent ten years at The Northern Trust Company as a large corporate commercial banker and financial analyst.

 

Lisa has lived in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago since 1999 and has two daughters. She enjoys keeping busy with her girls’ activities and school functions. She also has volunteered with several not-for-profit organizations. Lisa traveled with Spark Ventures to Zambia in 2017 and is eager to go back with her family.

Daniel Marcus

Daniel Marcus
Board of Directors

Daniel Marcus is co-founder of Spark Ventures and has served on the board since its inception. He was born in Santiago, Chile and immigrated to the United States at the age of 8 years old with his parents and two brothers. Dan attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he  received a BA in Economics.  He has worked in finance most of his career. He  worked at Bear Stearns and currently is an Investment Advisor at Marcus  Capital, LLC. Dan has been involved with various charities including 10 years as a Child Life Specialist at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago and two years at The Night Ministry, working to serve homeless and runaway youth.

Patti O'Neil

Patti O’Neil
Chair

Patti was born and raised outside Boston, Massachusetts and made Chicago her home in 1989. She has a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Mount Holyoke College and a Master’s in Applied Economics from The University of Michigan. She is currently the Treasurer and interim Chief Financial Officer at Rush System for Health. Previous to joining Rush, she worked as a banker at both Bank of America and First National Bank of Chicago. She is raising her three children in Chicago. Patti is involved in volunteer activities at church, Misericordia, and her children’s schools, and is on the Investment Committee of Saint Ignatius College Prep. She traveled to our partner in Zambia with both of her daughters and has done a family trip to our partner in Nicaragua as well!

Kristin Schrepferman

Kristin Schrepferman
Executive Director

 

Kristin Schrepferman has been an enthusiastic supporter of Spark since 2014 and officially joined the Spark team in October 2017. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She has over 28 years of experience in marketing, sales, and operations. She has a long history of dedication to children in need. Her most rewarding life experiences have come from foster parenting, adoption, volunteering, mentoring, and working in schools with students from some of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. Kristin is driven by the belief that communities can be lifted out of poverty and individuals can be empowered to thrive if they have the opportunity to receive a quality education, healthcare, and nutrition in an environment that is safe and nurturing.

Associate Board

The Spark Associate Board was founded in 2013 to provide support to Spark’s initiatives and goals. The Associate Board is made up of professionals from around Chicago who are committed to creating awareness and growth for Spark. The Associate Board meets bi-monthly and works with the Spark staff and the Board of Directors to assist in fundraising efforts and as well as various programs with our international partners.

Griffin Abel

Griffin Abel
Associate Board

Griffin graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. He is currently working as a Financial Analyst at Ventas, a healthcare Real Estate Investment Trust.  He is also a Young Professionals Board member for the Chicago non-profit Horizons for Youth.  Having traveled to over 20 countries, Griffin is excited to partake in international development through Spark’s impact travel. In his spare time, he enjoys live music, playing basketball, and surmounting his misfortunes on the golf course.

Eric Bokar

Eric Bokar
Associate Board

Eric is originally from Cleveland and graduated from Ohio State University in 2013 with degrees in Economics and Finance. He is currently an Associate in the Portfolio Management group at Heitman, a Real Estate Investment Management firm. In his spare time he likes to play basketball and channel his inner JR Smith on the court with his friends or support him and the Cleveland Cavaliers during games. Eric is very excited about the opportunity to travel abroad and have a “hands on” impact on the benefactors of Spark adventures.

Lesley Brindle

Lesley Brindle
Associate Board

Lesley Brindle is originally from the DC area but has called Chicago home since 2011. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with degrees in Economics and a Corporate Strategy and currently works as a Brand Finance Manager at Conagra Foods. Prior to Conagra, Lesley held various roles in Corporate Finance at Deloitte and PepsiCo.  Lesley enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors and has traveled with Spark to Nicaragua and Mexico!

Andrew Gruesser

Andrew Gruesser
Associate Board

Andrew is originally from Cincinnati, OH, and has called Chicago home since 2003, after graduating from Miami (OH) University with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Andrew currently works in residential and multi-family real estate. Residing in Lincoln Park, he enjoys staying active through triathlons and exploring Chicago’s many neighborhoods.  The mission to combine conservation, travel, hands-on work & building a sustainable business model is what attracted him to Spark Ventures.  Andrew travelled with Spark to Mexico in March of 2018, and was “truly impressed with the extraordinary people and community Spark’s built”.  He is looking forward to more trips in the future!

Alex Hanna

Alex Hanna
Associate Board

Alex graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics. He is currently working as a Data Science Consultant at Mintel, a market research firm. In his spare time, he enjoys live music, board game nights with friends, and exploring Chicago neighborhoods.

Jasna Karamehmedovic

Jasna Karamehmedovic
Associate Board

Jasna graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a BA in Economics and Finance. She has spent the majority of her career as a strategic and financial advisory professional. Currently, Jasna is an M&A advisor to healthcare institutions, focusing on partnerships of nonprofit hospitals. In 2018, Jasna visited Zambia with Spark Ventures. The relationships and experiences gained on this trip led her to become more involved with the Spark organization and ultimately a member of the Associate Board. Jasna is also an avid reader, amateur potter, traveler, and loves everything related to food, friends, and family, especially being the best aunt to her niece and nephews!

Alyson Marguerat

Alyson Marguerat
Associate Board

Alyson graduated from East Carolina University in 2003 with a BS in Family & Community Services with a focus on Child Development. She made her way to Chicago that same year to begin her work in early childhood education. Alyson spent 13 years working with children and families at Lincoln Park Preschool & Kindergarten, helping to facilitate the partnership between LPP and Spark during her time there. Alyson has had the privilege of visiting partners in Zambia and Mexico multiple times and is incredibly grateful for the impact that these experiences have had on her life. Alyson currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, having returned to her roots to be closer to family. She continues her work in early education and remains committed to supporting Spark from there.

Susan Peinsipp

Susan Peinsipp
Associate Board

Susan joined the Spark team as their Philanthropy and Development Intern in January 2019 and the Associate Board in January 2020. She graduated from Carthage College in 2014 with a degree in English and Great Ideas, which is an interdisciplinary major studying the evolution of ideas over time. She then spent the next three years teaching English in China and Thailand. Currently, Susan is working in insurance. She is also working on her Grant Writing Certification from Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, WI. When she is not working or studying, Susan enjoys scuba diving, swimming, and reading.

Nick Van Stedum

Nick Van Stedum
Associate Board

Originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Nick attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and has spent the past five years working in New York and Amsterdam. As a Senior Associate in Citibank’s Corporate & Investment Banking division, Nick raises capital and provides corporate finance advisory services to some of the world’s largest healthcare companies. Now based in Chicago, Nick looks forward to becoming ingrained in the Spark community to continue the impactful work of the organization. In his spare time, you’ll find Nick on the golf course, exploring Chicago’s restaurants & bars with friends, or traveling.

Cassandra Wade

Cassandra Wade
Associate Board

Cassi was first introduced to Spark by cofounder Scott Barbeau in 2009 and never looked back. A southside Chicago native graduating from Governors State University with a BA in Business Management, her background is mainly focused in Customer Service, Hospitality, Special Events and Project Management. One of the early events committee members and a YPS (Young Professionals of Spark) supporter she joined the Associate Board in 2018. She has traveled with Spark to Las Tias in Nicaragua in 2014 and was lucky enough to make a short solo stop at Entreamigos in Mexico more recently. Hope School in Zambia is still on the list of places to visit when we can all safely travel again!

Lindsay Weickert

Lindsay Weickert
Associate Board

Bio Coming Soon.

Danny Whisnant

Danny Whisnant
Associate Board

Danny is originally from Orange, CA and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2013 with degrees in Economics & Entrepreneurship. He is currently a Portfolio Analytics salesperson at FactSet, a global provider of financial data and software solutions. In his spare time, Danny enjoys playing and watching sports (especially his Ohio State Buckeyes), traveling the US and abroad, and considers himself somewhat of a film critic.

Volunteers, Interns and Pro-Bono Support

Spark Ventures is thankful to have the support of a number of talented individuals who dedicate their skills and time to help us move our organization forward.

Alexa Santangelo

Alexa Santangelo
Marketing & Events Intern

Alexa joined the Spark team the Summer of 2020 as the Marketing and Events Intern. She will be graduating in May 2021 from the University of Missouri, with a degree in Hospitality Management and a minor in Business. Alexa was born and raised in the Chicago area and currently lives in Schaumburg (IL) with her family. She spent the past semester studying in Rome and traveling to places like Switzerland, Morocco, and Barcelona. Alexa spent three years serving her community as Director of Philanthropy and Chapter President of her sorority. She is looking forward to a summer of growth with Spark Ventures and hopes to be able to travel with Spark one day!

Luc Plaisted

Luc Plaisted
Nonprofit Management Intern

Luc became a member of the Spark team in the summer of 2020 as the Nonprofit Management Intern, but fell in love with Spark on a trip to Nicaragua to visit Las Tias in 2014. He graduated from York Community High School in May of 2020, and will be attending the University of Notre Dame with a major in Economics. Luc was born in Chicago and raised in Elmhurst. He looks forward to helping a philanthropy and cause he loves so much this summer, and hopes it helps keep him close to Spark and their partners while making a positive impact in the world.

Advisory Council

We are grateful for our advisors who strengthen our organization through time, expertise and strategic input to the staff and leadership.
Heather Duncan

Heather Duncan
Advisory Council

Heather Duncan is a Nurse Practitioner, educator, volunteer, investor and close friend of Spark. She is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at North Park University as well as the Faculty Liaison for North Park University’s annual Zambia trip and clinic. She has traveled to Zambia at least 5 times to facilitate the medical clinic, and has continued to develop innovative ways to share knowledge with Hope and the community they serve. In May of 2013 she led a team of local staff to launch our first Nutrition Training. Not only has she made friends with the children at Hope, but she also got to meet the first round of chickens at the poultry farm!

Andrew Hastie

Andrew Hastie
Advisory Council

Andrew Hastie is originally from Boulder, Colorado, but has called Chicago home since 2007. He is a Salesforce functional architect with more than 5 years of professional services and implementation experience. He holds a bachelors in economics from the University of Chicago, a masters in accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and held a record in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was hired into Salesforce Commerce Cloud to provide implementation guidance and engagement quality assessments for Salesforce Commerce clients. He has been involved with Spark’s mission since 2011 and is currently working with Spark to strengthen our technical roadmap and bring us closer to our donors through the Salesforce platform.

Open Positions

Spark Ventures is always looking for talented interns to support our team. We accept intern applications on a rolling basis. When applying, please specify the time period during which you are looking to work with us (minimum 3 month commitment, 4+ month commitment preferred).

 

Please see the listings below for specific position descriptions and for detailed information on how to apply.

Marketing and Communications Intern
Marketing and Communications Intern

 

Description of the Internship

The Spark Ventures Marketing and Communications Intern will work with a small team and gain valuable insight into the marketing and communications and PR needs at a small and growing nonprofit. The majority of his/her responsibilities will include writing for print and web, managing Spark Ventures’ social media presence, identifying and pursuing new digital influencer/PR opportunities, and updating Spark Ventures’ website and blog.

 

Spark Ventures is a small team and values interns who are self-starters and can identify creative and achievable marketing opportunities for the organization. Interns are given guidance and training, but also entrusted with a fair amount of independence to take ownership over specific projects of interest during their time at Spark.

 

Responsibilities May Include

 

Creative Content Creation

  • Draft creative storytelling pieces to assist in sharing the impact of our work with our community – in the past this has included video projects, PPT slide decks, photo journals, blog articles, etc. Projects will vary based on intern skill sets.

 

Website/Online Presence

  • Draft copy for online communications to include: email newsletter articles, blog posts, web page, etc.
  • Perform regular site updates including written content, images and other document uploads.

 

Social Media

  • Maintain and promote the Spark Ventures online presence via: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs and other online marketing vehicles.
  • Identify social influencers operating in the Impact Travel space and actively reach out to these individuals/organizations to pursue partnership & PR opportunities

 

Office Management

  • Support ongoing operational needs of a growing non-profit, including some light administrative work (less than 10% of the job).

 

Qualifications

 

  • Previous work experience in a marketing or communications position is preferred but not required
  • Strong writing and communication skills
  • The ability to work independently on projects
  • A high level of computer proficiency
  • A familiarity with non-profit usage of social networks (specifically Facebook, Twitter & Instagram)
  • Basic familiarity with graphic design or video software preferred but not required

 

Start Date

Minimum 3 month commitment, 4+ month commitment preferred

 

Compensation

This is an unpaid internship

 

Time Commitment

16 hours per week minimum

 

Reports to

Gwyn Thomas – Marketing & Events Manager

 

To apply

Email resume, cover letter, and a writing sample (maximum 2 pages) to careers@sparkventures.org. Please put “Marketing and Communications Intern” in the subject of your email.

Events Management Intern
Events Management Intern

 

Description of the Internship

The Spark Ventures Events Management Intern will work with a small team and gain valuable non-profit management experience through direct involvement in the planning and coordination of Spark Ventures Trips to Zambia and Nicaragua, as well as engagement and fundraising events in Chicago. The majority of his/her responsibilities will include events planning and coordination, event related PR, and donor cultivation.

 

Spark Ventures is a small team and values interns who are self-starters and can identify creative and achievable marketing opportunities for the organization. Interns are given guidance and training, but also entrusted with a fair amount of independence to take ownership over specific projects of interest during their time at Spark.

 

Responsibilities May Include

 

Event Planning

  • Assist in event planning and execution
  • Coordinate event logistics with vendors (i.e. catering & AV)
  • Manage securing and preparation of silent and live auction items for upcoming events
  • Manage volunteer recruitment and coordination for fundraising & education/awareness events

 

Organizational Support

  • Implement event promotion schedule and expand reach of promotions
  • Conduct research related to Spark’s events
  • Manage tracking of tickets and correspondence with attendees for fundraising & education/awareness events
  • Assist in the design and content development of marketing and promotional materials
  • Expand existing organizational documentation

 

Organizational Support

  • Support ongoing operational needs of a growing non-profit, including some light administrative work (less than 10% of the job).

 

Qualifications

 

  • Exceptional organization skills and high attention to detail
  • The ability to work independently on projects
  • Strong writing and communication skills
  • Previous international travel experience preferred but not required
  • A high level of computer proficiency

 

Start Date

Minimum 3 month commitment, 4+ month commitment preferred

 

Compensation

This is an unpaid internship

 

Time Commitment

16 hours per week minimum

 

Reports to

Gwyn Thomas – Marketing & Events Manager

 

To apply

Email resume and cover letter to careers@sparkventures.org. Please put “Events Management Intern” in the subject of your email.

Philanthropy and Development Intern
Philanthropy and Development Intern

 

Description of the Internship

The Philanthropy and Development Intern will gain valuable insight into the environment at a small and growing nonprofit organization. The intern will be responsible for assisting the Managing Director with resource development research, fundraising events and donor database management.  On the same note, s/he will have opportunities to gain exposure to areas of nonprofit management and operations that s/he feels are of special interest.

 

Spark Ventures is a small team and values interns who are self-starters and can identify creative and achievable marketing opportunities for the organization. Interns are given guidance and training, but also entrusted with a fair amount of independence to take ownership over specific projects of interest during their time at Spark.

 

Responsibilities May Include

 

Philanthropy and Development

  • Conduct prospect research for review by Managing Director, staff and board members
  • Assist with donor communications and drafting letters
  • Support team in executing solicitation and stewardship mailings
  • Assist with fundraising events and programs
  • Manage tracking of event ticket sales and correspondence with attendees
  • Perform donor analysis and research on giving behavior, insights and trends

 

Database Management

  • Learn basic functions of Salesforce, one of the most popular customer relationship management (CRM) platforms
  • Assist with entering donor information and tracking effective communication

 

 

Qualifications

 

  • Strong research, writing and communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to complete projects independently
  • A high level of computer proficiency. Experience with Salesforce or other CRM database is a plus.

 

Start Date

Minimum 3 month commitment, 4+ month commitment preferred

 

Compensation

This is an unpaid internship

 

Time Commitment

16 hours (2-days) per week minimum

 

Reports to

Kristin Schrepferman
Executive Director

 

To apply

Email resume, cover letter, and a writing sample (maximum 2 pages) to careers@sparkventures.org. Please put “Philanthropy & Development Intern” in the subject of your email.