San Francisco Bay Area

Angela Chen , Development and Operations Coordinator

A San Francisco native, Angela brings a diverse breadth of experience in the areas of sales development, client relationship building, program management and business operations. Prior to joining Spark, Angela was an Assistant Director at C2 Education, where she individualized strategic roadmaps for K-12 students to help them reach their academic goals, cultivated long-term relationships with families and tutors, and established high-impact partnerships with local schools. As an advocate for youth development and learning, Angela was previously also a grant writer for a nonprofit called City Youth Now, and volunteered as a GED tutor for teens who were in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. She is excited to be part of the Spark team. Angela holds BAs in Politics and Legal Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kevin Gardner, Grants Manager for California Regions

Kevin made his way to Spark after honing his communications and project management skills at two startups: Mission Asset Fund, an economic development nonprofit with a fin-tech twist, and Cribspot, a Y Combinator company that helps renters find housing. His experience ranges from independently spearheading a full overhaul of Cribspot’s web content to managing a team of seven to develop MAF’s 2015 annual report. He recently completed the New Sector RISE Fellowship, an AmeriCorps program designed to cultivate a new generation of nonprofit leaders. With his command of language and knack for storytelling, Kevin lends a fresh voice to Spark’s development team during this exciting time of growth.

Alex Jeong, Senior Program Coordinator

As a California native, Alex is dedicated to ensuring strong implementation of Spark Bay Area partner schools and companies. Alex holds a BA from the University of Chicago. Living in the South Side of Chicago, he was struck by the socioeconomic disparities of surrounding neighborhoods and made it his mission to empower youth from underserved communities with access to educational and professional opportunities. Previously, Alex worked in the State Senate office of Illinois’ 13th District, where President Obama began his political career; as well as with MetroSquash, a nonprofit that engages underserved Chicago youth using squash and academics as tools to foster college-readiness. Alex has also worked at Mikva Challenge, a nonprofit that promotes youth civics and political engagement, and taught high school math in Chicago Public Schools, with a Fellowship from Match Education.

Francis Kevers, Managing Director of Program, San Francisco Bay Area, and Strategic Projects

Before joining Spark, Francis Kevers spent over six years at C2 Education, a nationwide tutoring and college prep program, where she focused on building strong program teams and driving growth through operational excellence and student results. As a certified college counselor, Francis loved helping hundreds of students expand their college admissions potential. Francis also guided students in career exploration by drawing from her experience in education management and finance. Francis holds a Bachelor of Science from MIT and a M.B.A. from INSEAD, and she has been on the MIT Educational Council since 2012.

Mary MacLaughlin, Program Manager

With an educational background in diverse school settings, Mary brings a wide scope of experience in academic support, student services, and school and community partnerships. She began her career in education as an intervention teacher, where she provided supplemental classroom instruction to support underperforming students in their individualized academic growth. Mary later transitioned to school counseling, supporting students’ social and emotional development in addition to their academic achievement, specifically focusing on equitable access to education and student groups underrepresented in higher education. Mary looks forward to combining her experience in education with her passion for social justice and inclusivity to drive her work as a relentless advocate for all students. Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from DePauw University and a Master of Science in School Counseling from Butler University.

David Marbain, Public Ally Program Associate

Prior to joining Public Allies, David attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona where he received his B.A. in General Anthropology. While at Northern Arizona University, David worked as an Office Assistant for Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals. David joined Spark with a strong commitment to social justice in mind. His passion for continued education and social and environmental justice will fuel David's work on the Spark team.

Ben Stewart, Account Coordinator

Ben is excited to work with the passionate team at Spark to help create a dynamic mentoring program that not only provides opportunities for our students to create their own future, but to create a positive and rewarding experience for our mentors. Ben comes from a background in community economic development with the Peace Corps and, most recently, as the manager of mentor program at BUILD Boston. Ben is thrilled to be working with Spark as the organization continues to grow and make a lasting impact on hundreds of lives in the Bay Area.

Valentina M. Volk, Public Ally Program Associate

Valentina comes to the Bay Area team with a passion for social justice and a desire to serve and empower youth. She moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley, where she studied Psychology and graduated with honors in 2013. She has previously volunteered as a literacy mentor with Girls Inc.of Alameda County; working with underserved, minority youth in Oakland. After graduation Valentina completed her 200 hour yoga teacher certification, as well as a teen yoga certification, and started her own yoga and mindfulness business. Her passions for evidence-informed practices and closing the achievement gap, bring her to Spark.

Spark inspires 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to succeed in high school and beyond by connecting them with mentors in leading workplaces and supporting their academic journey with skill-building and resources. By engaging working professionals and connecting businesses with local communities, Spark empowers the next generation to perform better in school, graduate on time and lead fulfilling careers and lives.

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