Rick on stage.jpeg

we can make an impact by sharing our individual stories and insights with many others in the community. We are pioneering A New approach to communal mentoring.

Sparkr envisions a world in which 

Everyone's a Mentor.


"You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world."

- Oprah Winfrey

what is "communal mentoring"?

Every person we pass by everyday possesses a collection of experiences and lessons learned. Yet, we remain strangers. We’ve yet to harness the full potential in life learning — learning from and through each others' stories and perspectives.

At Sparkr, we share our life stories to explore our deepest foundations and aspirations and see where we interconnect and intersect. We envision a world where we are each other’s mentor, regardless of age, background, or level of career attainment.

We can make an impact by sharing our individual stories and insights with many others in the community, particularly among those underrepresented and underserved. We bridge local philanthropic organizations alongside professionals in the community, and enable them to learn from each others’ professional and personal experiences

The traditional approach to mentorship is no longer enough to reach everyone who needs it. Our Communal Mentoring approach solves two issues: Scalability and availability.

Sparkr's approach has been carefully curated to accomplish our overall goal of creating a Toolkit of Collective Wisdom that our community can leverage anytime, anywhere.



Our mission is to enable all people to connect, learn and grow anywhere through innovative mentorship. We particularly support communities underrepresented within leadership positions in our society. 


Our vision is to spark a new approach for mentoring and learning that is accessible to everyone, everywhere.


  • Discover a collective wisdom
  • Learn from everyone
  • Elevate all people
  • Make mentorship fun

engaging two audiences to make impact

Sparkr aims to connect two communities that can benefit greatly through our approach to communal mentoring:

  • Underserved and underrepresented communities, via partnerships with nonprofits and schools in the local area

  • The greater community of professionals in the local area, particularly those who seek to give back by simply sharing their experiences and paying it forward

Share Life Experiences. Create Collective Wisdom.

Sparkr is a forward-thinking organization, embracing innovative approaches to mentoring for the 21st century. We offer a multi-faceted approach to engage our members in various medium.

Open Dialogues

Open Dialogues is our marquee quarterly forum where we feature a prominent individual in our community as our Mentor Speaker.

The Mentor will share three key decisions in her career that had a directional impact on her life. After the Talk, the Mentor and audience of Peers will engage in a public conversation -- an Open Dialogue -- to address questions and commentary about the Talk.

Field Trips

Field Trips is our outreach program with partnering nonprofits and schools. We target those that serve underrepresented communities, such as at-risk youth, immigrant populations, and LGBT groups.

We will bring their members to our Open Dialogues Mentor Speaker forum and bring our members and mentors to them to facilitate an Open Dialogues at their location.  

Our Featured Mentors initiate the Sparks within our community

The mentors at Sparkr come from many walks of life. Here's a selection of some of our mentors.


Rick Hess

Rick is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, executive, and proud Mentor. Rick started his career with Digital (now HP), and then joined Oracle in the mid-80's and helped build the company.  He was Managing Director and senior VP of East Asia before joining PeopleSoft (now Oracle) and then Hyperion (now Oracle) as VP International.  He started and was CEO of two enterprise software companies, WebCare and Ellianz, was an Entrepreneur in Residence at two Silicon Valley venture capital firms, and served on President Obama's Economic, Globalization, and Trade policy committee.  He sits on a variety of for-profit, non-profit, and educational boards.  

Carina Ruiz.jpg

Carina Ruiz

Carina is a Partner at Deloitte & Touche. Carina has over 16 years of experience in finance, banking, and treasury strategy and consulting. She began her career at Citibank in the Philippines and earned her M.B.A. at Santa Clara University.

Carina has championed several mentoring initiatives, such as Deloitte Career Connections, a year-long mentoring program in an exclusive partnership with First Graduate, a SF-based non-profit helping students become the first in their family to graduate college.


Colin Walsh

Colin is a global financial services leader, most recently serving as CEO of American Express UK where he led its international consumer and small business services businesses in Europe. Colin has over two decades of experience successfully leading businesses for global brand companies, holding senior roles at Lloyds Banking Group, Wells Fargo, Transamerica Financial Services and GE Capital. In 2013, Colin was ranked #7 on Financial Times' OUTstanding List, an annual list of the top 100 LGBT business leaders in the world. He is also passionate about philanthropy and serves on various non-profit arts and volunteer boards.

Join us at our next Open Dialogues, our marquee Communal Mentoring program, where we host prominent individuals from our local community as Mentors Speakers. These mentors shared key decisions in their career that made a profound impact on their life, and our members then have an opportunity to engage in an open conversation with the mentor. Many of our members have been able to better realize their potential and received insights for personal and professional growth.

Past Open Dialogues

Taking Risks

WITH Rick Hess, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur


Breaking Down Barriers


Seizing Your Opportunities

with Colin Walsh, Former CEO, American Express UK



Working Together for a New Vision of Mentorship

Our Team

L-R: Mara Herrera, Kevin Van Gundy, Rick Hess, Bryant Ramirez, Dmitry Shuster, Neil Torrefiel, Angelica Ramirez

L-R: Mara Herrera, Kevin Van Gundy, Rick Hess, Bryant Ramirez, Dmitry Shuster, Neil Torrefiel, Angelica Ramirez

  • Bryant Ramirez: CEO/President & Co-Founder
  • Dmitry Shuster: Executive Director & Co-Founder
  • Rick Hess: Chairman of the Board
  • Neil Torrefiel: Director of Brand and Experience
  • Mara Herrera: Co-Director of Programs
  • Kevin Van Gundy: Co-Director of Programs
  • Angelica Ramirez: Operations Coordinator




San Francisco, CA

Company Info

We are a 501(c)(3) socially-driven non-profit, registered as a charitable organization in the state of California. We operate as Open Dialogues Mentorship, Inc.


  • Rick Hess
  • Bryant Ramirez
  • Dmitry Shuster

Questions or comments?

Email us at connect@sparkr.org

Become a member of the next-generation of mentorship

Join Sparkr to keep in touch with us, learn more about our programs and activities, and find ways you can participate further.

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