SPARC Symposium

The SPARC Symposium is a signature virtual event designed to elevate your leadership skills and your auxiliary programs. Strategic conversations led by independent school and nationally recognized thought leaders each year focus on themes such as transformational leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion and youth programming design for the future.

  • Engage with colleagues in designing an aspirational future for your programs and your school
  • Join compelling conversations with independent school leaders
  • Collaborate in engaging conversations with other attendees, speakers, and panelists
  • Develop strategic outcomes that inform your future work and priorities
  • Participate in a national, virtual event that connects and elevates our auxiliary community and our schools

Who Should Attend?

The SPARC Symposium is designed to meet the professional development needs of a wide range of independent school leaders.  Recommended attendees include all members of the auxiliary programs department including part-time and seasonal staff, CFO, COO, Heads of School, Human Resource team members, Directors of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusions, and other members of the school senior leadership team. 

2024 Symposium: Exploring the Impact of Auxiliary Programs

The next annual SPARC Symposium is scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2024 from 12:00 to 3:00pm EST.

Join us for an inspiring afternoon as we explore the Impact of Auxiliary Programs. Our keynote speaker, Brett Pierce, will launch the Symposium with Storytelling for Impact. An engaging panel discussion will follow, exploring the profound and life-changing impact summer and after school programs can have on participants. Discover how these journeys and experiences foster community building, ignite passion for learning, and cultivate invaluable skills that extend beyond the programs themselves. 

Our second panel will focus on the multifaceted power auxiliary programs can have on schools. Our panel will share their insights on how well-designed auxiliary programs can bolster financial viability, increase non-tuition revenue, and shape a distinctive brand image. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and inspiration from industry experts!


12:00 -12:15 pm EST Welcome from Nat Saltonstall & David Sullivan
12:15 - 12:50 pm EST Keynote: Storytelling for Impact
1:00 - 1:50 pm EST Panel Discussion: Transformative Participant Impact: Stories of Exploration and Growth
2:00 - 2:50 pm EST Panel Discussion: Multifaceted School Impact: Stories of the Power of Auxiliary

Keynote: Storytelling for Impact (12:15-12:50 PM EST)

There is storytelling. Then there is digital storytelling - the capacity to communicate using text, imagery, sound, and music. For students, those words - text, imagery, sound, and music, all mashed up together - equals fun. A good digital time. Finally,  there is digital storytelling for impact: the capacity to build a narrative that is deeply engaging and meaningful. Fun with impact, …what I am thinking may be the tagline for auxiliary programs. Together, we will explore the processes and possibilities for digital storytelling for impact in informal learning settings.

Brett Pierce is the founder and Executive Director of Meridian Stories, and author of the book from Heinemann Publishing, Expanding Literacy: Bringing Digital Storytelling into Your Classroom (Spring 2022). Brett has spent much of his professional life at Sesame Workshop in New York City, serving as a Co-Executive Producer on media projects about literacy, math, science, gender equity and conflict-resolution for youth around the world, including projects in China, Macedonia, Indonesia, Poland, Iraq, South Sudan and Ecuador. Brett has taught at the high school level and has a BA from Kenyon College, and Masters Degree from Middlebury College (English) and Columbia University (Education). He recently completed writing National Geographic’s award winning Storytelling for Impact courses (Gold Winner, Anthem Awards), and currently teaches an annual intensive at Colby College about Digital Storytelling and Media for Social Change. He lives in Freeport, Maine.




Panel Discussion: Transformative Participant Impact (1:00-1:50 PM EST)

Join three experts for an engaging conversation on the transformative impact of out-of-school activities on participants.  Explore how these programs ignite personal growth, broaden horizons and foster connections and friendships.  Hear unique perspectives on how these programs empower individuals to discover their passions and unlock their potential.

Moderator: Karen McCann McClelland, Director of Auxiliary Programs, Sidwell Friends School


Sherronda Brown, Director of D-E 360°, Dwight-Englewood School

Sherronda has worked at D-E for 23 years where she has served in a number of roles, including as the Director of Enrollment for Dwight-Englewood School for twelve years managing admissions, re-enrollment, and financial aid.   Today she holds the position of Director of D-E 360° - a division of Dwight-Englewood School which she created and launched in 2014. An Englewood resident, Dr. Brown takes great pride in the "community" that is Dwight-Englewood School.  Among all of her responsibilities, her favorite endeavor is in working with educators and families in the local community to create programs after school, on weekends and during the summers that allow learners to cultivate their passions.  "Dwight-Englewood School is defined by the connected learning experiences we share.  In my time here, I have been overjoyed with the tremendous gifts and talent people bring to this community."  

Joshua Shelov, Founder and CEO, Written Out Loud

Josh Shelov is an Emmy-winning screenwriter and filmmaker who has made multiple films in Hollywood, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Sedaris, Elijah Wood, and others, as well as multiple ESPN "30 for 30" documentaries. He is an adjunct professor at Yale University, where he first pioneered Written Out Loud as an undergraduate seminar in 2007.  After a 25-year career making films in Hollywood, Josh created Written Out Loud to give creative kids the exact same team- and community-oriented validation that young athletes receive. Written Out Loud delivers elite instruction, mentorship, and fellowship - combining Hollywood storytelling techniques with Ivy League caliber instruction and Silicon Valley-engineered program delivery. Our unique group-storytelling approach is revolutionizing how kids learn writing, transforming even reluctant readers into joyful writers - and yes, published authors. Not only does Written Out Loud develop kids’ storytelling skills, it gives them a safe, inspiring space to grow their courage, empathy, and self-confidence.

Aaron Dworkin, CEO, National Summer Learning Association (NSLA)

Aaron is a national leader in the education, out-of-school time (OST) and youth development fields. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), which works to ensure all young people in America, but especially the most vulnerable, can access and afford a high-quality summer learning experience every year. Aaron oversees NSLA’s support to their network of 15,000 program partners and leaders in the areas of Program Quality, Partnerships, Policy, Public Awareness and Leadership Development. Prior to NSLA, he served as President of the After-School All-Stars National Network, a non-profit organization providing free afterschool and summer programs to 90,000 low-income students in more than 450 Title I schools in 20 major cities across the U.S. Previously, he founded and directed Hoops & Leaders, an award-winning, grassroots youth mentoring and leadership program for low-income boys in New York City.




Panel Discussion: Multifaceted School Impact (2:00-2:50 PM EST)

Join us for a thought-provoking panel discussion on the impact of auxiliary and summer programs on schools.  Explore how these initiatives foster financial sustainability, create admissions leads, and elevate brand identity and awareness.  Engage with experienced independent school financial leaders as we delve into strategies and programs schools have engaged in and discover innovative approaches.

Moderator: Bob Rojee, Director of Auxiliary Programs, St. Mark’s School / SPARC Senior Advisor 


Weston Outlaw, Chief Financial Officer, University School of Milwaukee

Weston Outlaw is the chief financial officer at the University School of Milwaukee. His professional career spans nine private educational institutions, including day, boarding, and military schools with experience encompassing a broad spectrum of areas including advancement, admissions, auxiliary programs, business services, finance, financial aid, information technology, and marketing within primary, secondary, and higher education. He attended Sacred Heart Schools in Chicago and Culver Military Academy in Indiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and information systems from Loyola University Chicago and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University. 

Donna Milani Luther, Head of School, Inly School

An arts and creativity educator, Donna is currently Head of Inly School, an all-gender independent, Montessori based day school in Massachusetts for students ages 2 – 14. She is a member of the Leadership Development faculty for the Creative Education Foundation, where she teaches courses in creativity, innovation, arts and leadership to educators and business professionals worldwide. As an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University, she has taught in the national and international M.Ed. program for Creative Arts in Learning. She has presented at conferences throughout the United States and in Brazil, China, South Africa and Israel. Donna is founding director of Summer Stars Camp for the Performing Arts, a transformative program for underserved teens.

Vinita Ahuja, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital

Vinita joined the Milton family in July, 2022. A native of Atlanta, GA, she has mostly lived in the DC region since 1999. She attended Georgetown University undergrad, including a year abroad in Strasbourg, France and received a BA in Government and French and a minor in Spanish. She worked with the non-profit Community Family Life Services in DC for several years before attending Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where she received an MA in School Leadership. Following her graduate program, she served as the Math Program Coordinator for the organization For Love of Children before she moved to Georgetown Day School in 2007. During her time at GDS, she was responsible for everything from the auxiliary programs to enterprise risk management and took on various strategic projects for the school. After 15 years at GDS, Vinita is excited to join Milton and is charged with refining or initiating various systems and processes to improve experiences for teachers and outcomes for students.

Thanks to Our 2024 Symposium Sponsors

Nations Classroom VAC Enrichment




See the lineup and content from past symposiums.


"The SPARC Symposium panel discussions were inspiring and well-timed.  I enjoyed connecting with colleagues across the country to share ideas on how we were tackling similar issues in the DEI, staffing and programming areas.  The deep dive discussions were a great follow up and helped keep the conversations going."

  • Elizabeth M.