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Board Member Bios


Larry Sparkman, Director, Luckyday Foundation Citizen Scholars Program, The University of Southern Mississippi    
Dr. Larry A. Sparkman serves as the Director of the Luckyday Foundation Citizenship Scholars Program, a privately funded scholarship and four-year student development program that and facilitates a living-learning community, service learning, and servant leadership at The University of Southern Mississippi. The Luckyday Citizenship Program has been recognized as a Best Practice in Student Affairs in the state of Mississippi and received the Best Practice Silver Award from the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals and Administrators. Larry’s previous professional experiences include: serving as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer, directing a first year experience office, facilitating orientation for new students, directing student recruitment and enlistment, campus ministry, serving as a children’s program coordinator at a psychological rehabilitation hospital, and working as a mental health professional in correctional institutions. Larry holds a Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The University of Southern Mississippi. Research interests include: Emotional Intelligence and its relationship to student persistence; student performance; and the impacts of service learning on the emotional intelligence of college students, college student retention, and college student character development.


Oscar Sweeten-Lopez, Portfolio Director, Scholars, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
As the Dell Scholars Program leader, Oscar oversees the foundation's comprehensive college persistence services to improve the four-year college graduation rates of high-risk, low-income students.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2005, Oscar was director of student retention and workforce development for the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement. Other past experience includes work with the Oregon Human Development Corporation and with AmeriCorps. Oscar has a bachelor's in political science and Spanish from the University of Oregon and is a leadership fellow at the Institute of Nonprofit Management at Portland State University.


Michael Maher, Director of Education, Western Golf/Evans Scholars
Mike Maher is the Director of Education for the Evans Scholars Foundation. An Evans Scholar Alum from Marquette University, Mike has worked at the WGA since 2008 and previously served as the Caddie and Scholarship Development Manager and the Associate Director, Education.


Jennifer Hazelton, Chief Financial Officer, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Jennifer Hazelton is the Chief Financial Officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo where she was named the Houston Business Journal’s 2013 Best CFO of the Year – Non Profit. Jennifer holds a BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. She is a licensed CPA in Virginia and Delaware. The Show’s Educational Programs department reports to Jennifer. The Show provides almost $25 million in scholarships , grants and premiums to exhibitors annually. Historically, the Show has funded $375 million. More than $150 million of that was for scholarships for more than 15,000 students.

Education has always been a passion of Jennifer’s. She serves on the advisory board and audit committee of the Neuhaus Educational Center, the board of Small Steps Nurturing Center, and is active with the University of Richmond’s Alumni Association, serving as the regional representative.


Katie Kramer, Chief Executive Officer, Boettcher Foundation    
For the next year, Katie Kramer is serving as the Interim Executive Director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation on an executive loan made possible by the Boettcher Foundation. In her role as Vice President & Assistant Executive Director of the Boettcher Foundation, Katie Kramer has come full-circle with the Boettcher Foundation, one of Colorado’s oldest private philanthropic organizations. A fourth-generation Colorado native, Katie was selected as a Boettcher Scholar in 1993 and since 1997, has served the Foundation in various roles. In her current role, she is responsible for all operational aspects of Boettcher’s $300M endowed foundation, including the administration of over $15M annually awarded in grants and scholarships throughout the State of Colorado.

Kramer attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was a Presidents Leadership Scholar and honors graduate from the Leeds College of Business. In 2009, she completed her Executive MBA at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.

Aside from Kramer’s commitment to Colorado and deep passion for service, she is a harmonica-playing, polka-listening, wiener dog-owning, trout-catching, Star Wars-watching, country-dancing, scuba-diving, elk-hunting, Grand Canyon-rafting, mountain-hiking, family-loving, outdoor enthusiast.


Maria Falvo, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Savings Foundation
Maria is president and CEO of the American Savings Foundation, located in New Britain, CT, where she has worked since 2000.  Over the last 15 years she has taken on increasing responsibilities in communications, strategic philanthropy, financial operations, and endowment management, while designing and directing the largest single-source college scholarship program in Connecticut. She holds an MBA in Finance and Management from the University of Connecticut and an MS in Communication from Central Connecticut State University.  In January 2016 Maria assumed the role of president & CEO of the American Savings Foundation.

Julie Kim, Executive Director, Operations, Scholarships & Programs, United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
As the Executive Director of Operations for Scholarships and Programs at UNCF, Ms. Kim is responsible for overseeing effective and efficient processing of 400 scholarships and programs UNCF administers including the Gates Millennium Scholar program. In addition, Ms. Kim manages all technology tools that are utilized to process scholarships as well as overseeing the necessary policies and procedures development and updates for the scholarship management. Prior to joining the Gates Millennium Scholars Program with the UNCF in 2001, she was the Washington Office Director for The Korea Society based in New York, NY, promoting greater awareness, understanding, and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea. Ms. Kim has over 20 years of nonprofit management experience and has extensive grassroots community service experience where she has been active in the immigrant community coordinating voter registrations drives, citizenship/naturalization drives, racial reconciliation programs, and fundraising efforts. Today, along  with sitting on the Board of Directors for NSPA, Ms. Kim is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), and President of PTA for the United Korean School of Washington, VA Campus. She received her B.A. in International Relations from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.  

Beth Barnette Knight, Director, Office of Student Scholarships, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Beth Barnette Knight has been the Director of the Office of Student Scholarships at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) for the past 14 years. Mrs. Knight oversees the coordination and administration of over $12M in institutional scholarships at IUPUI. She is also responsible for the recruitment and retention of high- ability students to the campus. She received her master’s degree in Communication Studies from IUPUI in 2007. In 2010 she completed the Certificate in Fund Raising Management from The Fundraising School in the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Mrs. Knight currently serves on the NSPA Board. IUPUI has twice been awarded the NSPA University Provider of the Year Award in 2006 and 2008. 

Traci Lanier, Vice President, 10,000 Degrees
Traci joined 10,000 Degrees® in 2003 and developed the organization’s first organizational advancement plan. She also co-founded Marin Educational Equity Week. In 2007, she was named Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and was made Vice President and Deputy Director in 2013. Traci is responsible for organizational operations, including personnel, scholarship allocation, and budget. Previously, Traci served as Annual Giving Manager at the Colorado School of Mines, Account Manager for ProSavvy, an international business-to-business start-up, and Development Manager at the University of Phoenix. She earned her master’s degree in International Economics from the University of Denver and her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University.

 Traci played an instrumental role in the formation of Marin Promise and currently co-chairs their College Enrollment Action Team. She served the Advisory Council for COMPASS, (College of Marin Dual Enrollment Partnership) and as Special Advisor on projects for The College Board. She is also active in her children’s school. 

David Levy, Editor, Edvisors, Inc.
David is Editor of Edvisors.com and works on updating and expanding the site's resources for students and families. David brings 30 years of experience as Director of Financial Aid at some of the nation's leading colleges, including Scripps College, California Institute of Technology, and Occidental College. He is respected by students, parents and financial aid professionals nationwide because of his extensive outreach and volunteer activities, his extensive knowledge of financial aid, and his leadership in helping to simplify the aid application process. David has served in numerous financial aid leadership and volunteer positions on the national, regional and state levels and has received more than 35 awards for his service. 

Cecilia Marshall, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Cecilia Marshall is director of strategic initiatives at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, responsible for executing a diverse portfolio of college access and success projects beneficial to the Cooke Foundation’s Scholars and high achieving, low-income students across the nation.

Before joining the Cooke Foundation, Ms. Marshall was Managing Director of Scholarships and Programs at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF). She was responsible for overseeing and managing all aspects of the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She holds a B.F.A in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design.  

Dana O'Neill, Director of Higher Education Programs, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
As the director of the Higher Education Department at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Ms. O'Neill oversees the Cooke Foundation's College Scholarship, Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, and graduate scholarship programs.  This role includes managing the selection processes for the higher education programs; developing program materials, scholar reports, and budgets; overseeing services to scholars; and researching and developing new program components. Before joining the Cooke Foundation in 2003, Ms. O'Neill was a senior program coordinator for the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, a nonprofit organization that administers the Fulbright Scholar Program.  She holds an M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and a B.A. in Political Science from St. Mary's College of Maryland. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was a recipient of the NSPA Scholarship Provider of the Year Award in 2004. 

Laura Steffen, Assistant Vice President, Scholar Recruitment & Selection, Daniels Fund
Laura grew up on the east coast in Salisbury, Maryland and attended a boarding high school in Middletown, Delaware called St. Andrew’s School. Her mother is from Madrid, Spain and, therefore, she grew up in a bilingual home. Laura earned her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Oregon in 1996. Having also taken college courses at UCLA, University of New Mexico, University of Maryland College Park and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, she is a good resource on many different college environments and experiences. After completing her undergraduate studies, Laura went on to earn her M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1999. The final year of her Master’s program was spent completing her studies on the Middlebury campus in Madrid, Spain.

Laura became a high school Spanish teacher, field hockey and lacrosse coach, and student advisor in the fall of 1999.  She spent seven years working with high school students at Fountain Valley School and Kent Denver School. Laura then served as the Director of a Latino Initiative at Junior Achievement in Denver matching Latino leaders in the community as volunteers to teach Latino elementary, middle  and high school students in the Denver metro area about financial literacy. Finally, Laura has been supporting Daniels Scholars since 2007 and often uses her Spanish speaking abilities to support the Spanish–speaking families of our Daniels Scholars. 

Tricia Tate, Scholarships Program Manager, The Ford Family Foundation
Tricia Tate joined The Ford Family Foundation in 2001. She serves as the programs manager for the Foundation Scholarship Office in Eugene. She facilitates daily office operations, administers several scholarship databases and a website, and coordinates communication flow to and from students, financial aid administrators, and partner agencies.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Tricia worked for the Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion for many years. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Oregon. Tricia also earned a graduate certificate from the University of San Diego's lawyer's assistant program. 

Jane Thompson, Executive Director, TD Scholarships Canada
Jane Thompson has been the Executive Director of the TD Scholarship program for the last fifteen years, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce, and an MA and PhD in Women’s History. She serves on the Board of NSPA, lives in Toronto with her husband and son, and recently published “Resilient Woman: Weaving Together Work, Family; and Self.”

Jamie Williams, Director Undergraduate Scholars Program, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
Jamie's role as Director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is to develop meaningful engagement and enrichment opportunities that hone Scholars' leadership skills and help them develop their professional purposes in college. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jamie was director of the National Scholars Program at Clemson (S.C.) University from 2002-2015, in addition to serving as associate director of the Clemson Honors College from 2009-2015. In 2006, Jamie led the effort to create USPAA, the Undergraduate Scholars Program Administrators Association, a professional body supporting the work of campus-based scholars programs, and served as president and a board member from 2009-2013. 

Amy Weinstein, Executive Director, NSPA
Prior to her employment with National Scholarship Providers Association, Ms. Weinstein held the position of Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a public research university. While at CU-Boulder, Ms. Weinstein served as the Vice President of the campus chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Previous to that, Amy held the positions of Scholarship Coordinator and Assistant Director of Public Education at the American Indian College Fund in Denver, Colorado.

Amy holds an M.A. in public administration (emphasis on nonprofit management) from the University of Colorado at Denver and a B.A. in Native American studies at the University of California at Davis. 

Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support!

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