MEET THE SPARK INITIATIVE TEAM
Brooke Wheeldon-Reece, MBA
President, Chief Executive Officer
813-662-6920 Ext. 102
Brooke Wheeldon-Reece, MBA, is the President/CEO of The SPARK Initiative, Inc. – a non-profit organization in Tampa, FL. dedicated to working with youth, sex trafficking survivors, and incarcerated men and women. She is the creator and co-author of the evidence-based and CASEL approved, SPARK Mentoring Programs which are currently being taught to 1000’s of children in Hillsborough County and around the world. Prior to her work with The SPARK Initiative, she was a national trainer for the Mendez Foundation’s nationally recognized Too Good for Drugs and Violence prevention programs. After her brother in law’s suicide in early 2012, Brooke knew there was more to the mind than she understood. She found her home with The SPARK Initiative after watching her husband come out of a deep depression with seemingly little effort through a simple but profound understanding of the mind. She now dedicates her work to creating sustainable change throughout all populations via mentoring, coaching, and teaching this same understanding of the mind. In 2019, after a 2-year process, she and her husband adopted her niece and two nephews through the foster care system. Brooke works daily to advocate for the protection and resilience of child victims of abuse and promote suicide prevention by reaching young people’s minds and teaching them about their unbreakable SPARK inside.
Brooke lives in Florida with her husband Will and their 5 children.
Over the course of her seven years at SPARK, Ashley has trained more than 300 educators in SPARK Mentoring Programs. She literally wrote the book on best practices and lessons learned from delivering SPARK programs to more than 3,000 youth in schools, detention centers, and drug rehabilitation centers. Ashley is a sought-after and seasoned presenter, having delivered fun and engaging presentations at dozens of education conferences. Her natural ability to connect with youth and educators leaves them feeling inspired and confident. Prior to joining SPARK, Ashley worked in insurance. After seeing her personal relationship transform through her own education, she pursued her passion for educating youth. Ashley lives in Florida with her husband and two kids aged 14 and 10.
Community Programs Coordinator
813-662-6920 Ext. 103
Nicole Wilson is our Community Programs Coordinator and Youth Mentor. Since joining the SPARK team in 2016, Nicole has mentored over 2500 youth, helping them understand their mind, potential and resilience through our SPARK Mentoring Programs. Delivering SPARK to our community’s most vulnerable youth populations, Nicole has created partnerships with juvenile justice facilities, rehabilitation centers, residential facilities and with sex-trafficking survivors that temporarily live in a local safe house. In the beginning of 2021, Nicole began leading our SPARKING Change Youth Leadership Program, working with young interns that joined our team to gain more understanding of their minds, potential and to be a guide as they create their own community initiatives. Prior to her work here, Nicole worked as a part-time elementary school aide while studying as a student at the Paul Mitchell School Tampa, receiving her license in Cosmetology. As she found passion in making people feel better about themselves, she quickly discovered there was more to it than polishing up their physical features. Nicole later found her home here at The SPARK Initiative, helping people see beneath the surface by uncovering their resilience and confidence, seeing their potential and pointing to their SPARK inside. Nicole lives in Florida with her daughter Anelise, and loves to visit the beach, theme parks and to travel around the world.
Research & Evaluation Coordinator
813-662-6920 Ext. 104
Since joining SPARK in 2016, Jena has mentored more than 2500 children and youth in schools, detention centers and residential facilities. From this experience, she has gained a better understanding of herself and sees the potential in everyone. In addition to mentoring youth, Jena is our Research and Evaluation Coordinator, where she collects and collates our programmatic data. When not in the classroom, Jena also processes, ships, and manages customer orders and accounts. Prior to joining SPARK, Jena served as an enlisted-member of the United States Air Force where she traveled all over the world and gained vital experience managing accounts, coordinating inventories, and conducting personal trainings. Jena is passionate about helping our youth uncovering their confidence and finding their SPARK inside. She loves coaching youth soccer and also enjoys playing in local adult leagues herself. Jena lives in Florida with her husband and two kids ages 11 and 15.
Director of Education and Partnerships
For 20 years, Stephanie has supported children and educators to reach their potential. As the Director of Education and Partnerships at The Spark Initiative, she specializes in school and organizational implementation of SPARK Mentoring Programs. She has trained dozens of teachers, counselors, mentors, and supervisors in the this evidence-based SEL curriculum. Prior to joining SPARK, Stephanie provided transformational coaching services, created her own suite of educational materials, and supported 10,000 teachers and 250,000 refugee students in Gaza. She created and launched the United Nations first educational satellite TV station in the Middle East, which continues to grow, serving millions of children and adults. Stephane is passionate about unleashing the Spark in everyone, everywhere. She lives in Washington, DC with her 7 year old son and black cat named Blueberry.
Shifra Rosenblatt Chesler studied at London’s One Thought Practitioners’ Training Institute and then completed a BA in Childhood and Youth Studies. Shifra loves teaching an understanding of the mind with all kinds of people, but with several years’ background as a primary school teacher (and informally incorporating an understanding of the mind into her teaching), she’s grown to become particularly passionate about sharing this understanding with children and youth. Shifra co-founded Three Principles Jerusalem in 2015, and now lives with her husband and daughter in Jerusalem, Israel where she enjoys facilitating further teaching and learning of the Principles, as well as developing the S.P.A.R.K. Mentoring curricula for the SPARK Initiative.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President: Cally Catania Bekhor, Esq.- Cally E. Catania, P.A., Hillsborough County
Treasurer: Bruce Mitchell, Retired from Risser Oil
Members: Ron McVety- FACTS Engineering