Laura Sparks, Vice President, Philanthropic Programs
Laura Sparks is the
senior executive responsible for the Foundation’s programmatic direction,
overseeing WPF’s $80 million grant budget. In this role, she develops new
opportunities to advance the Foundation’s goals, manages systems for due
diligence and quality underwriting, monitors the performance of WPF’s grant
portfolios, and leads ongoing improvement of grantmaking functions.
Before joining the
Foundation, Sparks was Director of Development Finance Initiatives at Citi,
based in New York City, developing programs to expand partnerships with local
and national community development organizations, bringing new investment to
positions at Citi and with the Opportunity Finance Network, Sparks developed
data-driven program management strategies, led implementation of strategic
plans, and served as a liaison with financial regulators. She previously worked
as an investment banker for corporate, municipal, and higher education clients
at Goldman Sachs and UBS.
She has been active in a
range of nonprofit endeavors that advance the interests of low-income
people and communities, working in leadership roles with Living Cities, the Asset Funders Network, the Low Income Investment Fund, the Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle,
and Philadelphia V.I.P.
Sparks received her
J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, her M.B.A. from the
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and her B.A. in Philosophy from
Wellesley College. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband and their two