Meet Our Team
Our team includes a mixture of researchers

Spark’s innovative team-based approach ensures every challenge is met with flexibility and creativity, so we can apply the right skills and expertise at the right time.

Our team includes a mixture of researchers, facilitators, project managers, and product developers, with backgrounds that range from policy analysis and law to cognitive psychology and social work, and even to anthropology and journalism!

Our Team
Kyle Brost, is the CEO of Spark Policy Institute, where he leads an interdisciplinary team that works to create meaningful change through adaptive, strategy design and high-quality research.
Kerry Vachta

Senior Researcher

During her 30 years in community-based, participatory action research and evaluation, Kerry has partnered with organizations and people who are working to understand and create innovative community-driven solutions to systemic inequities in diverse settings. Her qualitative, quantitative and multi-level/multi-method projects and tools are tailored to provide evidence-based guidance for those working to promote social change.
Joby Schaffer

Senior Researcher

Joby leads a wide variety of evaluation work with projects ranging from homelessness to entrepreneurship. He is well-versed in many forms of evaluation to fit your needs whether that be advocacy, systems change, or anything in-between.
Amanda Valenta


Amanda supports much of Spark’s systems change and collective impact work, but she has experience in a vast array of project work and focus areas, including education, policy systems, and early childhood development.
Daniela Hernandez

Marketing and Projects Manager

Daniela helps facilitate projects through coordination, handling logistics, organizing, research, and community engagement in a variety of settings.
Daniel Costie

Associate Researcher

Daniel specializes in community empowerment, urban development, and food security. Daniel brings to Spark understanding of social media and social network analysis.
Kara Underwood


Kara has expertise in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. She has led evaluation projects ranging from STEM interventions, early childhood and high school programming, to educational equity and social justice.
Evan Russell

HR and Operations Associate

Evan provides general assistance to support projects. In addition to project work, he manages organizational processes and operations, marketing outreach, and communications.
Kim Riley


Kim has more than 28 years’ experience working in community health education and research focused primarily on health disparity issues in under-served communities.
Kerri Laryea

Director of Learning

Kerri is the Director of Learning at Spark Insight Partners, where she leads product design and delivery of transformational learning. As a learning scientist at heart, she is passionate about helping organizations transform their professional development programs into participatory, experiential learning engagements that get results.