Before Spark Central, there were two organizations: Spark Center and INK Art Space. The seeds of the original Spark Center were planted in Summer 2014 when local community leaders Jim and Joe Frank of Greenstone Homes, Ben Stuckart of Spokane City Council, Vinny Alfonso of Gonzaga University's School of Education, and Debra Park, a Kendall Yards resident, gathered to talk about library and education needs in the West Central Community. Greenstone Homes and Greenstone Foundation made a commitment to move forward with plans to create a “library of the future” for West Central community and beyond.
On the other side of town, INK Art Space, a youth arts education program founded by Spokane novelist Jess Walter and artist/developer Dan Spalding in 2014, was growing thanks to the leadership of Mischa Jakupcak, an award winning writer, director and film producer.
Spark Center and INK Art Space collaborated closely for a year, and by July 2016, these two mighty organizations merged to form Spark Central, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a focus on igniting the creativity, innovation, and imagination necessary for people to forge the path to their best future.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President, DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE CO-cHAIR
Kate is a writer, teacher, and baker raised and educated on the wet half of Washington State. Now a proud resident of Spokane, she’s the author of the cookbook Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter, and her writing has appeared in Best American Essays 2015 and Best New Poets. She comes with a long history of arts organizing, including half a decade working for Richard Hugo House, Seattle’s literary arts center.
PAST PRESIDENT (yes, it's an office)
Jess Walter is the author of eight books, most recently the #1 bestselling novel Beautiful Ruins. A former National Book Award finalist and winner of the Edgar Award, Jess lives in North Spokane with his wife and his three children.
Treasurer, DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR
Jim was born and raised in Spokane. Graduated form Gonzaga University with a degree in Chemical Engineering and later a Juris Doctorate degree. Practiced environmental and natural resource law for 10 years and then founded Greenstone Corporation in 1983. CEO of Greenstone Corporation a regional real estate and development company.
Vice-President, Program Committee Chair
Jessica Wade is a senior account executive at DH, a PR, advertising and branding firm. She is an English nerd who loves writing (and editing even more). She also paints watercolors (expressionist, colorful, animal subject matter). She loves nature walks, her office plants, opera, and good conversation with friends.
Despite being a lawyer, Rick Eichstaedt loves art, literature, and the creative side of life. When Rick isn’t chasing his two children, he directed the non-profit law firm, the Center for Justice, is an adjunct professor of law at Gonzaga, and serves on the Spokane Art Commission. Rick is also a resident and proud cheerleader for the West Central neighborhood.
Vincent C. Alfonso, PhD, is former Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University, New York City. He is now the Dean of the School of Education at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.
Secretary & Program Committee Member
Eric has taught at Lewis and Clark High School for 25 years. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and he has two daughters. He likes to coach tennis and play music in local bands.
James Kashork brings over 20 years’ experience in founding, leading, and growing non-profit organizations. He founded Spokane Urban Ministries, a faith-based, 501(c)3 non-profit affordable housing development corporation. Whether it’s through program development or creating spaces that meet the needs of the community James believes strongly in creating opportunity for others.
Stephanie Delarosa is the executive director of the Greenstone Foundation.
Mike Malsam is a long-time educator and currently serves as principal of Freeman Middle School.
Born and raised in Detroit, MI, Sandra began her professional life as a registered nurse where she developed mad organizational skills. After moving to Spokane in 1992, raising two daughters and serving on the Boards of the Spokane Symphony and the Fox Theater, she "drank the Kool-aid" to become a fundraiser (it's a thing!), first for the Spokane Public Library and now for KSPS Public Television. She is a dedicated Spokane booster and delighted to participate at Spark Central.
OUR STATION STAFF
Executive Director // CHIEF ENGINEER
Brooke Matson is a poet and educator. She attended Gonzaga University where she received her B.A. in English and her M.A. in Educational Leadership. A National Board Certified Teacher, Matson taught for seven wonderful years at Mead Alternative High School, and has presented workshops to K-12 teachers in Washington and Idaho on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and integrating human rights concepts into curriculum. She is a 2016 Artist Trust GAP recipient and was awarded the Spokane Arts Award for Collaboration in 2016.
DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR // COAL-SHOVELER
Kate Reed is a jane-of-all-trades who loves to do everything and meet everyone all the time. Her interests are often intense and fleeting, but there are some constants: writing, reading, testing her cartwheeling skills, jumping on as many bandwagons as she can manage. In addition to working at Spark, she hangs out with her husband and son, teaches at Whitworth University, and is the fiction editor at Rock & Sling.
ERIKA Prins SIMONDS
PROGRAM COORDINATOR // CONDUCTOR
Erika Prins Simonds is a multipotentialite — in other words, a compulsive learner of things. A native of South Africa, she mostly grew up in California and moved to Spokane to attend Whitworth University. All of this left her fluent in Spanish, nerdy about politics and very good at crossword puzzles. After a decade as a journalist, she's abandoned the writer's life to make more time for drawing small, imaginary creatures. She lives in West Central with her two children, who are actually just very pampered cats, and her husband Mark.
Station & Volunteer COORDINATOR // STATIONMASTER
Alina King is a California girl, old soul and self-proclaimed comedian. She recently graduated with a B.S. in Public Health and Communication from Brigham Young University. It was there she fell in love with community health, Dr. Pepper, and her husband, Jackson. Few things give her as much joy as helping others, playing board games with family, and Taco Tuesday.
PROGRAM COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Sharma Shields is the author of Favorite Monster: Stories and The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac: a novel. She grew up in Spokane and recently received the Spokane Arts Imagination Award. Her passions include public libraries, women in literature, and monsters from mythology & fairy tales. She lives on the South Hill with her husband, writer and artist Simeon Mills, and their two young children.
Girls Rock Lab mastermind
Liz is a writer, musician, and teacher. She teaches writing in the English department at Eastern Washington University and has worked in the past as a music teacher and a curriculum writer for youth music camps. Her writing has been featured in various publications, and she has released two music albums. She loves to sing, and she lives in Spokane with her partner and their son. She is proud to be one of the founders of Girls Rock Lab!
Britt is the main creator and organizer of RiverSide StoryBook, an art journal for teens. Her own creative work includes photography, writing, and the occasional impulsive painting or poem. She is currently a sophomore at her own school, which is not public. Britt loves Spokane, Indaba coffee, and classic literature.
Kellie is a Spokane native who loves taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy with all things science! When she's not acting as the Education Manager at Mobius Science Center, she can be found tabletop gaming or curled up with a cat or two reading a great book.
Anne-Claire enjoys collaborative and cross-disciplinary art, and intersecting 2-D work, digital media, and music. She co-founded the Richmond Art Collective (RAC) in downtown Spokane and manages operations at RAC’s primary exhibition space. Anne-Claire also serves as Spokane’s Program Coordinator for the statewide organization Artist Trust, and is involved with several other Spokane-based arts organizations and programs. She takes lawn sports very seriously.
WEST CENTRAL PUBLISHING UNION
Assistant to the Editor
Sir Hamish Snozzelwit III, affectionately known as Snoz, is a hippopotamus amphibius with a proud weight of 3,000 pounds. He prefers swamp lettuce to the iceberg kind, and admits a partiality to parsnips. Having written twenty-two essays on the subject of the Oxford comma, Snoz will sit on anyone who forgets to put it in its proper place.
Editor Penelope Bucket has been an editor for nearly 77 years, is a Virgo, and loves water chestnuts. She highly recommends time travel, particularly the Cretacious Period. She prides herself on having good taste in imaginative stories, and wishes everyone to know that Snoz owes her a new desk for chewing away the left corner of hers--an aggressive habit that simply MUST stop.