Spark Announces New CEO to Lead The Possibility Movement

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Jeanette Castellanos brings 15+ years of program and leadership experience in the social justice and education sectors to Spark, a Career Exploration and Self-Discovery Program for middle school students

“I am incredibly impressed with the caliber of the staff, Board and volunteers, and the impact they have on students’ lives." - Jeannette Castellanos

Spark, a national Career Exploration and Self-Discovery Program, today announces Jeanette Castellanos as its Chief Executive Officer. Castellanos brings more than 15 years of experience in program management, development and leadership to Spark with a background spanning youth service, education and social justice sectors.

“Jeanette joins Spark with a proven record in fundraising, organizational capacity-building, program development and advocacy,” said Adrian K. Haugabrook, EdD, Vice President of Student Success and Engagement at Wheelock College and Chair of Spark’s National Board of Directors. “Her passion for social change and understanding of the critical need to help students in the middle grades succeed make her the ideal leader to drive Spark’s next phase of growth and impact.”

Spark gives middle school students opportunities to understand, experience and pursue what’s possible for their future.  Spark is leading The Possibility Movement by bringing together diverse communities of families, schools and companies who care, share, teach and inspire. In her most recent role as Executive Director of Citizen Schools Illinois, Castellanos strengthened programs for middle school students and expanded partnerships aimed at closing the achievement and opportunity gaps for middle school students. Prior to her time with Citizen Schools, Castellanos served in progressive leadership roles at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. She also invested more than 10 years of her career in addressing issues of sexual violence; leading Illinois’ largest rape crisis program, which provided services to over 100,000 individuals each year.

“I am honored to lead the next phase of Spark’s tremendous growth,” said Castellanos. “I am incredibly impressed with the caliber of the staff, Board and volunteers, and the impact they have on students’ lives. Both my personal and professional experiences have taught me the power of inspired communities, public/private partnerships and engaging with students at the most critical point in their journey of self-discovery.”

Castellanos has served as Board Chair of the Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault and Vice-Chair of the National Board of YWCA USA. Castellanos holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Binghamton University (State University of New York).

About Spark
Spark is a Career Exploration and Self-Discovery Program that gives middle school students opportunities to understand, experience and pursue what’s possible for their future.  Spark is leading The Possibility Movement by bringing together diverse communities of families, schools and companies who care, share, teach and inspire. Spark Lab, Spark Mentorship and Spark High School Pathways use workplace experiences, mentoring and guided support to help students in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia explore careers, build skills and find the right path to a successful future. Learn more at sparkprogram.org.

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