Spark Foundation, the charitable trust funded by Spark New Zealand, is delighted to announce two Spark employees as new board trustees.
They are Luke Smith, Experience Optimisation Chapter Area Lead at Spark; and Rana Stephan, Spark Chapter Lead Business Development Manager, who has been appointed as the Spark “People’s Champion” to serve as the voice of the people of Spark on the Foundation Board for the next two years.
The new trustees will succeed Spark Legal Partner, Kelly Baxter, whose tenure on the board comes to an end in June after four years, and former People’s Champion, Brett Bailey, who stepped down late last year.
Spark Foundation Chair, Andrew Pirie, says he is excited to welcome Rana and Luke as trustees of Spark Foundation at a time when digital equity is more important than ever. “With online learning and working from home once again becoming prevalent in Aotearoa due to Covid-19, having the access, skills and pathways to successfully navigate online is more vital than ever. We look forward to Rana and Luke bringing their skill sets and experience to support Spark Foundation in creating a more equitable digital landscape, so that all New Zealanders can win big in a digital world.”
Rana and Luke will join existing trustees – media personality, author and te reo Māori advocate, Stacey Morrison; Auckland Council Ōtara and Papatoetoe Local Board member, Lotu Fuli; Internet NZ community manager and Commissioner of the NZ National Commission of UNESCO, Vanisa Dhiru; Spark Corporate Relations and Sustainability Director, Leela Gantman; Skinny Jump Lead, Martin La’a; and independent consultant and Spark Foundation Chair, Andrew Pirie.
Rana joined Spark New Zealand in April 2004 and is currently Chapter Lead – Business Development Manager, working with Spark’s Enterprise clients to support them as they grow and transform their businesses through digital technology.
Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, Rana is a passionate and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion. She has a daughter with Down-Syndrome and works to support her and her peers to achieve their professional goals, while also advocating for change so that workplaces and communities across Aotearoa can be more inclusive to people of all abilities.
Rana wants to create a world where everyone has the right to work and to feel included as valued members of society and young people with intellectual or learning disabilities are engaged in meaningful, paid employment in the same way as any other member of society.
Luke joined Spark in 2019 and now oversees Experience Optimisation as Chapter Area Lead, following an extensive career including roles in data, design, marketing, product and strategy. In more recent roles prior to joining Spark, Luke was UX Lead | Senior Digital Strategist at 2degrees and Head of Digital Product at My Food Bag.
He is passionate about blending art and science to create simple experiences which make people feel heard, included and understood. Luke holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing with First Class Honours from the University of Canterbury and now resides in Auckland with his beautiful wife and three children.
With his strong background in digital technology, Luke wants accessibility and diversity to be at the forefront of every digital experience so that all New Zealanders are afforded the same opportunities in a digital world.