Board Leadership Transition

Spark Names Education Policy Expert New Board Chair

Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook Becomes Chair of the National Board of Directors, Holly Depatie Transitions to Chair Emeritus

April 27, 2015

Spark, a national nonprofit youth mentoring organization, appointed Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook, Vice President for Student Success and Engagement at Wheelock College, as the Chair of its National Board of Directors. The appointment was made official at the organization’s National Board of Directors meeting on April 24. Holly Depatie – Spark’s immediate past Board Chair and a philanthropist, advocate, activist and writer – transitioned to the organization’s first Board Emeritus role.

Depatie served as the organization’s Board Chair for more than five years. Under her leadership, Spark expanded beyond its San Francisco Bay Area founding site into three more metropolitan regions – Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia – establishing a national footprint. Spark also launched new events, received record-setting funding and achieved greater impact with students.

“We’ve accomplished so much these past five years and now we’re positioned well to enter a new phase of organizational growth,” said Depatie. “We’re building an organization that can reach many more young people, that has staying power and that will uniquely impact the landscape of education in this country.  Knowing this, and after seeing our new CEO’s early progress combined with the vitality of the organization, it’s clear that Spark is ready for - and will benefit from - a new national Board Chair.”

In close consultation with Spark’s national board governance committee and Chief Executive Officer Jason Cascarino, Depatie nominated Haugabrook to succeed her.  “He’s a born leader, with a terrific blend of humility and strong conviction, a consensus-orientation and motivator toward results,” said Cascarino of Haugabrook’s leadership style and organizational fit. “I am confident of Spark’s ability to grow and evolve, and know that this Board leadership transition offers an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, as well as an expanded opportunity to achieve even greater impact in the future for our students.”

Haugabrook brings more than 25 years of experience in youth development, student learning, higher education and leadership to Spark. “Spark’s mission is both brilliant and impactful,” said Haugabrook. “The organization is at the intersection of enhancing learning and achievement and improving opportunities for young people with its hands-on learning projects with community professionals.”

Haugabrook is committed to civic engagement and serves on the Board of Directors for City Year Boston and the University of Massachusetts Boston Board of Visitors, and is Vice Chair of the Diaconate Board at Myrtle Baptist Church in Massachusetts. Haugabrook and his family are also hosts for the Fresh Air Fund. In addition, Haugabrook recently served as Board Chair for the National AfterSchool Association, the New England Regional Council of the College Board, MetroWest Community Healthcare Foundation (Founding Trustee), the Council on Education for Public Health and the Greater Boston Kappa Charities Foundation. He also served on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's Education Readiness Project. Haugabrook has received several honors and awards for his leadership and service to his community and profession.

Haugabrook holds a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts Boston, a master’s in administration from Georgia Southwestern State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Georgia.

Cascarino, Haugabrook and the national Board now look to deepen the organization’s impact in its current regions and plan for expansion into others in the next few years, bringing its workplace-based mentoring and project-based learning program to more underserved middle grades students throughout the country.



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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