Laura Permut Sparks ‘93 Receives Tower Hill Alumni Award
Tower Hill alumna Laura Permut Sparks ‘93, president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, was recognized with the inaugural Tower Hill Alumni Award at the Alumni Association Meeting on Oct. 28 during Homecoming Weekend 2017.
The Tower Hill School Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who exemplifies the qualities of a Tower Hill graduate, has distinguished themselves among their peers, and has been involved with the school, through volunteer work, contributions, or in other ways.
Sparks graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College, where she was a philosophy major and economics minor. Her coursework in those areas grew into an interest in community development finance, where capital can help address underserved populations. She worked in finance and earned an M.B.A. and a J.D. with honors from the University of Pennsylvania before becoming director of business strategy and director of development finance initiatives at Citi in New York. There she worked to develop programs to increase affordable housing and eliminate barriers to opportunity for low-income families.
In 2012 Sparks became the executive director of the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia. There she was responsible for numerous initiatives addressing social and environmental challenges in the city and for designing programs in education, public space, the arts and the environment. Under her guidance, the foundation launched and refined new strategic priorities, focusing its $115 million grant budget on improvements in urban education for economically disadvantaged children, protection of the water resources serving 15 million people across four states, development of world-class urban parks and trails in underserved communities, and cultivation of a vibrant cultural sector. She became president of The Cooper Union in January 2017.
She is married to fellow Tower Hill alum Dr. Andrew Sparks ‘91, who works in the K-12 and higher education fields to address the needs of students and teachers in urban schools.
Photo: Head of School Bessie Speers, Alumni Council President Ashley Altschuler, Cooper Union President Laura Permut Sparks '93 and Board Chair Michelle Shepherd