News & Updates

SPARK Boston announces 2020 SPARK Impact Award Winners

Jun 05, 2020

Mayor Walsh and SPARK Boston honor exceptional young adult residents making a positive impact in our city

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the City of Boston, and SPARK Boston today announced the eight 2020 SPARK Impact Award winners and 24 finalists.

“In these challenging times, the inspiration and incredible example set by the 2020 SPARK Impact Awards winners and finalists is just one example of the impact Boston’s young people have on our city,” said Mayor Walsh. “I commend these leaders for their hard work and service to our community. They prove that changemaking starts early, and I cannot wait to see what they do next.”

“The nominations for the SPARK Impact Awards come from the community and our winners are voted by the public,” said Amy Mahler, SPARK Boston Director. “Congratulations to our winners and finalists, you are the best of our generation.”

“It has been so wonderful to see our community rally around the SPARK Impact Awards, particularly in this isolated and often difficult time,” said Audrey Seraphin of the 2019-2020 SPARK Boston Council. “I'm so proud of our Council for their efficient and buoyant campaign for the final round of voting. We are honored to celebrate and award the winners today.”

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. A round of online voting to determine the winners in each category concluded on May 23rd. The winners will be invited to a breakfast celebration with Mayor Walsh when it is safe to do so, based on public health guidance.

2020 SPARK Impact Award Winners & Finalists

Category: Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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

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

  • FINALIST: Derrick Young, Jr, Brighton, 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

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

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

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

Category: Community Building and Neighborhood Improvement

  • WINNER: Carolina Prieto, Malden, 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.

  • FINALIST: Becca Wolfson, Somerville, 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.

  • FINALIST: Mika Gross, Fenway, 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.

Category: Activism and Issue Advocacy

  • WINNER: Yordanos Eyoel, Malden, 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.

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

  • FINALIST: Jonathan Berk, South End, 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.

Category: Unsung Heroes

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

  • FINALIST: M. Ihsan Kaadan, Back Bay, 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).

  • FINALIST: Heather Robinson, Allston, 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.

Category: Public Service & Civic Leadership

  • WINNER: Kharlita Chambers-Walker, Dorchester, 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.

  • FINALIST: Wayne Yeh, Jamaica Plain, 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.

  • FINALIST: James Santos, Brighton, 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

  • WINNER: Sasha Goodfriend, Roxbury, 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.

  • FINALIST: Marc Savatsky, East Boston, 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.

  • FINALIST: Nicholas Vance, Hyde Park, 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

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

  • RFINALIST: Rene Rotondo, Revere, 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.

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

About SPARK Boston

SPARK Boston is a City of Boston initiative that aims to empower the city's 20-35 year olds to play a greater role in planning for the future of our city. The SPARK Boston Council is annually appointed to learn about local government, affect planning and policy, and create programming for young adults across the city.

SPARK Boston focuses on engaging the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. This will shape how the City designs and develops policies, convenes stakeholders for important initiatives and works collaboratively with young people to shape Boston's future. Learn more at

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