News & Updates

SPARK Boston announces finalists for the 2020 SPARK Impact Awards

May 18, 2020

The public is invited to choose the award winners from a diverse slate of young adult residents making a positive impact in our city

The City of Boston and SPARK Boston today announced 24 finalists for the 2020 SPARK Impact Awards, to be honored later this year. The annual Impact Awards shine a spotlight on young adults ages 20 to 35 doing outstanding work to improve the City of Boston. Awardees in each category will be chosen through a round of online voting, open now until Saturday, May 23.

“The 24 finalists for the 2020 SPARK Impact Awards show that leadership in Boston comes from all sectors, all neighborhoods, and all forms of service,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Their passion for helping others is limitless, whether advocating for policy supporting our most vulnerable, giving new artistic voices their first stage here in Boston, or building supportive pipelines from our city’s young talent of color to the tech sector and Ivy League. They are showing us how to make change that affects our youngest and oldest residents, as well as our biggest and most nuanced challenges. I’m grateful for their leadership, and I encourage the public to vote for the finalist they’re most inspired by.”

“It was a really tough process to narrow down the candidates,” said SPARK Boston Council Member Shannon Montanez. “We had so many amazing nominees, with impacts ranging from mentorship with low-income youth, to advocacy for urban cycling and policy changes. These amazing people ages 20 to 35 inspire all of us. We cannot wait to share their stories with you!”

Mayor Walsh put out an open call for nominations for the 2020 SPARK Impact Awards this spring. A selection committee comprised of SPARK Boston Council members reviewed over 80 nominations in order to select these finalists, whose personal stories can be found on SPARK Boston’s website. A round of online voting will determine the winners in each category, to be announced at the award ceremony. You can vote for the SPARK Impact Award winners here from now until Saturday, May 23.

2020 SPARK Impact Award Finalists

Category: Entrepreneurship and Innovation

  • Angela Liu, nominated for her work running and advocating for Hack.Diversity, a social enterprise that connect diverse job-seekers with intentional recruiting, training and mentoring to thrive in the tech industry.

  • Benjie Moll, nominated for his work and advocacy for housing stability and innovative financing in the development sector, especially in partnership with community groups.

  • Derrick Young, Jr, nominated for co-founding The Leadership Brainery, a non-profit organization that serves as a pipeline for first-generation and diverse college-enrolled student leaders to gain access to competitive graduate and professional schools.

Category: Arts & Culture

  • Cierra Peters, nominated for her work founding Print Ain't Dead, a bookstore, publishing platform and literary society focusing on literature and writing produced by black, brown and indigenous artists.

  • Daniel Callahan, nominated for his work as an artist and educator in teaching youth and the community about mental health, empowerment, discourse, healing, and more.

  • Lina Gonzalez-Granados, nominated for founding Unitas, an orchestral ensemble devoted to performing music, many new works, from Latin America and bringing educational programs to underrepresented communities.

Category: Community Building and Neighborhood Improvement

  • Becca Wolfson, nominated for her work leading the Boston Cyclists Union, where she works to expand access to and make cycling a safer option in greater Boston for all people. 

  • Mika Gross, nominated for her placemaking work in Fenway at Samuels & Associates and volunteering with the Boston Main Streets Foundation to support the 20 Main Streets districts in building economic vitality for Boston’s small business community.

  • Carolina Prieto, nominated for her community and civic engagement work at MAPC, especially with the MetroCommon 2050 strategic plan update and first in 20 years Lynn City Summit. She also founded and leads CARAMELO Boston, a dance company that trains women in Latin dance styles and fusion.

Category: Activism and Issue Advocacy

  • Sandy Ho, nominated for her work at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy and as a community organizer in greater Boston area focused on disability justice and intersectionality.

  • Jonathan Berk, nominated for his work as a placemaker and leader of an online coalition working to ensure the voices of residents, advocates, and policy-makers all continue to make housing a priority issue in the city.

  • Yordanos Eyoel, nominated for her leadership mobilizing the 2017 Boston Women’s March and at New Profit to equip social entrepreneurs leading work in underinvested areas with the tools and relationships to accelerate their path to success.

Category: Unsung Heroes

  • M. Ihsan Kaadan, nominated for his service as researcher and medical doctor for vulnerable populations in the communities he lives in, first in his native Syria and now at Boston Medical Center (BMC).

  • Heather Robinson, nominated for her behavioral health work at Dorchester’s Dot House where she helps better the mental health of a population that already struggles against systemic and endemic barriers; as well her advocacy on NASW-MA Legislative Action Committee. 

  • Claire Solomon, nominated for founding and helming Project Amanda, an effort to support pregnant young mothers impacted by homelessness and in transitional living centers. 

Category: Public Service & Civic Leadership

  • Wayne Yeh, nominated for his community engagement and activism with the Chinese Progressive Association, Asian Pacific Islanders Civic Action Network, and now City Councilor Liz Breadon’s office.

  • Kharlita Chambers-Walker, nominated for her work as one of Mayor Walsh’s advance Coordinators, Legislative Aide to State Representative Evandro Carvalho, and leader of the City of Boston Women's Employee Resource Group

  • James Santos, nominated for his service in the military, as well as his work on behalf of the veteran community and federal advocacy for refugees to receive Special Immigrant Visas. 

Category: SPARK Boston Outstanding Alumni

  • Marc Savatsky, nominated for his work co-hosting “The Real Estate Addicts” podcast, a passion project helping educate and make a positive contribution to the field, as well as his vast volunteering and leaders in city-wide and East Boston-specific affordable housing and community groups.

  • Sasha Goodfriend, nominated for her work as President of Mass NOW pushing the I AM Bill, which provides free menstrual products for folks in shelters, prisons, and schools, and leading the movement and legislative charge for childcare access and menstrual equity.

  • Nicholas Vance, nominated for creating and hosting the Daddy Daughter Dance, helping inner-city fathers spend more quality time with their daughters, as well mentoring teens and young people through job readiness programs.

Category: Education & Mentorship

  • Rene Rotondo, nominated for her work with children with special needs, her research and leadership in the field of occupational therapy, and volunteering with many Boston-area nonprofits.

  • Prophet Parker, nominated for his work as a teacher and mentor to over 400 elementary school students, whether teaching physical education, guitar, or singing.

  • Gavin Smith, nominated for his work advancing, teaching and mentoring students, especially boys of color, in Boston Public Schools.

Learn More

Visit SPARK Boston’s website to learn more about the 2020 SPARK Impact Awards and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SPARKImpact.

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