Welcome Spark the Change Colorado’s New CEO

During this season of gratitude and renewal, we are grateful to announce our new CEO, Patrice Hawkins, will begin leading Spark the Change Colorado at the start of 2023. Patrice will build upon the foundation laid by our beloved CEO, Kristy Judd, to create more resilient communities across the state. 

Spark began searching for a new CEO in May 2022, led by recruiting expert— and long time Spark supporter— Deborah Brackney. Our search resulted in applications from across the country, and thanks to the board, staff, and community leaders, we were able to find the perfect fit for Spark. 

Patrice Hawkins embodies the values of Spark the Change Colorado:

Spark Community – Patrice plans to make civic engagement the focal point of our organization. She will create a dialogue with a diverse range of communities that are traditionally underrepresented in service work. She will leverage and scale this strategy across the state to create tight knit communities of volunteers ready to serve and empower their local regions. 

Spark Connections – Patrice has spent the past 8 years connecting community organization to government resources. Her work for Denver Human Services has spanned community outreach, grant management, communications, equity, diversity, and inclusion work. Patrice’s ability to bridge communities and resources will help Spark stay connected to Coloradans.

Spark Purpose – Patrice’s career is rooted in service. She began as an AmeriCorps Volunteer and continued her pursuit of service by being on the board of several organizations, working on community outreach for New York City, and serving the local Denver community as a bridge between Denver Human Services and underserved populations. Patrice’s passion for service will reverberate alongside Spark’s mission to inspire a movement of good through the power of volunteerism, service and civic engagement.

Spark Joy- Patrice left our staff exclaiming, “We’d love to work for her.” The CEO of Spark the Change Colorado not only has a responsibility to statewide communities, they have a responsibility to Spark’s employees. Patrice will make Spark the Change Colorado a joyful place to work where people are empowered to make Colorado a better place. 

Spark Impact- Patrice has detailed plans to execute on her vision. Throughout her interviews, she laid out a detailed strategy to engage community members and explained how she would take Spark the Change to a statewide organization. This action oriented mindset will help Spark reach more communities and bring more service opportunities to Coloradans. 

We asked Patrice to share in her own words a bit more about what Spark means to her and where she plans to lead us in the future.

Q: What does Spark mean to you?

A: “It means being bold as we inspire people to show up for their communities, innovate, build hope, and strive toward a healthy and inclusive society.”

“To me, as an organization, Spark means hope. It also means to ignite— I always like a good play on words— but to truly ignite a movement and a way of being in partnership with community. To get to a point where you are sparking or igniting engagement and change in society, it means asking questions, being present in community, listening to people across Colorado, inviting diverse stakeholders into the mix, advocacy, and sometimes challenging the status quo if it means we can do more good.”

“Today, this is what Spark means to me, but as I get to know the work and teams even more, I know this definition will be reshaped and grow. I do have to share that Spark also means a community that has embraced me as their next leader, and that’s a humbling and nice feeling.”

Q: What are you most excited about with this position?

A: “When I reflect back on my overall career, I’ve always been drawn to spaces rooted in public service or civic engagement, partnering with community and simply being in community to make change. Spark is doing this across Colorado, and I’m excited to be in a position to lead a group of passionate individuals and teams in this work. I am energized by seeing people lead impressive change in society, so I’m most excited about lifting up and guiding the people at Spark to take this work to the next level. I want Spark the Change Colorado to be a household name, people know the story and see themselves in this work. That excites me! So many possibilities are ahead of us.”

“On a more personal level, I am absolutely thrilled to return to my roots a bit. I moved to Colorado as an AmeriCorps member, and it means so much to me that Spark is a leader and champion of National Service programs. My service changed my life, and I hope that Spark continues to attract not only volunteers but those who want to give back to their country in this way. It’s not easy work, but AmeriCorps programs are so rewarding when you fully commit to the experience.”

Q: What do you hope the future holds for Spark?

A: “One thing that I shared with the Spark Team during the interview process is that I deeply value storytelling as a means of acknowledgement and honoring the work of our team and communities. My hope is to enhance our ability to do this: demonstrate the impact of our work, celebrate civic engagement across Colorado communities, and inspire people to engage through our storytelling.”

“The heart of any good organization, company, or business is the people who come to work every day to execute the mission. One thing I love about leadership is developing and embracing the next generation of leadership. I have big hopes and am deeply committed to continuing the development of all Spark teams and individuals in the coming year(s). Key to this is further investment in our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts and work, as well as investing in the Spark workforce in meaningful ways. To continue our growth across the state of Colorado, I want to continue the tradition of a happy, healthy, well-staffed, heard, innovative, and engaged workforce.”

“One thing we all know about the future is that change is constant, and we will continue to grow and evolve as a society, community, team, and organization. Throughout this evolution, I believe it’s important for our future to be rooted in financial stability and sustainable programs that can outlast us all. I’m excited to build this into our future as an organization. Spark is a powerful organization, and I hope in our future more Coloradans and national champions see the value of what we do, and are beating down our door to give and engage with us.”

“Finally, I’ll say that the future holds fun! We are going to have fun doing this work, sparking change, sparking innovation, sparking engagement.”

Patrice’s start date today marks a new chapter for Spark the Change Colorado. We are sad to say goodbye to the fantastic leadership of Kristy Judd, but we couldn’t be more excited to see where Patrice will lead us in 2023. You will be hearing from Patrice after she gets settled into her new role.

Happy Holidays and thank you for your continued support of Spark the Change Colorado!

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