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May 13, 2021

Dear Members of the SPARC Community,

Ryan Ripperton has informed the Board of Directors that he plans to leave his position in early 2022, after more than 11 years as SPARC’s Executive Director. In the coming weeks, we will be launching a national search for a future Executive Director to ensure a successful transition of leadership of the organization.

During Ryan’s tenure since 2010, the collective SPARC community of staff, faculty, students, board members, volunteers, and donors have achieved astonishing successes. We have more than doubled the number of youth engaged on an annual basis; exponentially grown SPARC’s reputation locally; earned international acclaim and awards; reimagined SPARC’s mission and vision; advanced diversity among our students, faculty, staff, and Board; established groundbreaking new programs and game-changing partnerships; built long-term philanthropic relationships; eliminated SPARC’s outsized mortgage; transformed SPARC’s facilities; and raised more than $15.5 million in support of SPARC’s mission. Most recently, we weathered the pandemic together and established a solid foundation upon which to build SPARC’s next phase of service to our community’s youth.

In this 40th Anniversary year, we know that SPARC’s greatest days are still ahead. While saddened by Ryan’s future departure, we appreciate the opportunity to partner with Ryan to conduct a smooth, strategic transition, and we embrace the possibilities for growth and energy a transition in executive leadership can produce. We know that SPARC’s support throughout the Richmond community is grounded in deep appreciation for what SPARC does for young people, and how and why it does it.

In sharing his plan with the Board of Directors, Ryan explained, “I truly love SPARC, and it is the honor of a lifetime to serve this organization. Over these 11 years, SPARC’s many accomplishments have been possible only through the collective work of our amazing staff, dedicated Board, talented faculty, inspiring students, and supportive community. I am excited for this transition to help set the stage for the future of this treasured organization.”

The search for SPARC’s next Executive Director will be led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG), the same firm which conducted the successful search for Director of Programs in 2020, resulting in the introduction of Evelyn Francis to the SPARC staff. An eight-member Search Committee, chaired by Kathryn Fessler and comprised of board and community members, will work with ACG throughout the process and make a hiring recommendation to the Board of Directors.

On behalf of the entire staff and the Board of Directors, I express my profound gratitude to Ryan for more than a decade of skilled and passionate leadership, and to the SPARC community for its loyal support and unwavering commitment to SPARC’s mission. Ryan can continue to be reached at RRipperton@sparcrichmond.org or 804-353-3393 ext. 225, and I can be reached at pam.belleman@troutman.com.

With gratitude,

Pamela S. Belleman
President, SPARC Board of Directors
Partner, Troutman Pepper