Akil Clark

Founder of Spark

My desire to work within my community started in tenth grade. I was lucky enough to have a history teacher go the extra mile, helping me connect to history on a personal level. The exposure to great men and women who dedicated their lives to helping create opportunities for those around them had a profound impact. 

I am not an educator, but my youth mirrored that of many DMPS students. I have never been a school administrator but as President of River Woods PTA, I have listened to teachers and have seen how much love, hard work and energy they give on a daily basis. I am no longer a student, but have two children in elementary whom I love deeply and like every other parent, want them to have the opportunity to succeed regardless of zip code or school system.

So many people in my life helped me achieve a level of success I never though imaginable as a child, I’m excited to pay it forward with the Spark Foundation. I am currently an Instructional Design Associate Consultant at Wells Fargo and reside in Charlotte, North Carolina with my wife and two children. 

Meet The Team


Larry Twitty 

A Des Moines Native, Larry Twitty, Jr. has worked full-time in the staffing and recruiting industry since 2012; partnering alongside various companies to help form strategic hiring initiatives while analyzing current job market trends.  In addition to recruiting top talent, Twitty, Jr. is also the founder of LatitudeDM, LLC, a company he started to help non-profit organizations tell their stories through social media and digital marketing.


In his spare time, Larry enjoys giving back to his community, and has volunteered with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Bowl For Kids Sake, CI-SHRM, NAACP, Iowa C.O.R.E., Dress for Success, and Evelyn K. Davis Center For Working Families.  Larry Twitty, Jr., his wife Ariana, and children, have been residents of Johnston, IA since 2016.


Robert Thole

Robert Thole is an attorney at Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave, P.C. in Des Moines. His passion for social welfare began in high school when he went on a service trip to a mountainous village in Haiti. There, the people taught him the change that a helping hand and kindness can bring. Robert has since returned to Haiti numerous times to visit friends he made on his first trip twenty years ago.


Robert is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Spark Foundation and its leadership team. He intends to utilize his legal experience to promote the Foundation’s initiative to promote giving back to this great community. But he knows from his work in Haiti that it is not only those that the Spark Foundation assists that will reap the benefits. It is those that give that oftentimes are the greatest benefactors of charity.




Lesley Christensen has worked in two of the largest school districts in Iowa. She has focused on building opportunities for students and families to connect them to the wider community as a Community School Coordinator and most recently as the District Social Worker for the Waukee School District. She has a passion for social justice and joined the Spark Foundation because she has witnessed the impact it has had on young students. She believes they find joy in choosing books with characters who look and sound like them and it ignites a passion for reading.


There has never been a moment like there is right now to capture the energy of educators craving materials to share with their classrooms that will help each individual student feel heard and recognized. Lesley believes the Spark Foundation will be a major player in connecting teachers to materials that will build bridges to students and the communities where they live.

Kayela Hadaway

Kayela Hadaway is an Operational Risk Manager with Wells Fargo. Her passion for volunteerism started in high school when she became involved in the Community Youth Leadership Program. From there she has spent her time volunteering for numerous organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Iowa, Special Olympics Iowa, Children’s Cancer Connection, ChildServe, and the River Woods PTA. 

Kayela is excited for the opportunity to give back to the community with Spark Foundation to create the chance for all students to find their love of reading through diverse and inclusive books. 


In her free time, Kayela enjoy spending time with her husband, young son, and fur babies. 


Bridget Edwards

Bridget Edwards lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her wife and three-year old daughter. Bridget works as a senior communications consultant for Wells Fargo. As a long-time lover of literature, she was an English and Communication Studies double major at the University of Iowa. Since starting her own daughter’s library, she recognized Spark’s mission aligns with her own passion for reading and finding diverse books to share with her daughter. Bridget is eager to give back to her community and support building libraries for kids who yearn to see characters who look and live like them.