Meet the smart folks

With two locations and more than 60 team members, our approach to project management is to have our senior principals manage and direct all aspects of each project.   Our team stays fully involved throughout each stage of the project to ensure the highest quality for our clients.  Together, our senior leadership brings over 50 years of marketing research experience to the table.  This is one of our core strengths. 


Rich Groom

Chief Executive Officer & Principal

As the CEO of Sparks Research, Rich is best known for curating business and client relationships, many that Sparks Research has served for a decade or more.  Rich is primarily responsible for driving business development through regional and national strategic partnerships while providing oversight to the strategic vision of the company.  Additionally, over his 18 years of service, Rich has conducted research for over 50 companies in more than 15 business verticals, notably natural gas, retail banking, telecommunications and health insurance.


Leanna Garrison

Chief Operating Officer & Principal

Leanna oversees the operations of the company at the project and account level as well as the organizational level and recently celebrated her 20th year with the company. Throughout her tenure, Leanna has “worn many hats,” beginning her career in data collection operations, transitioning to project management and client experience, and recently assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer and Principal.  Leanna knows that execution is paramount to a great idea, as evident by her efforts over her career at Sparks Research.


Jon Christiansen, PhD

Chief Intelligence Officer & Principal

With more than a decade of experience in applied research and consulting, Jon leads our efforts in insight generation, analytics and business intelligence. As a decision driven social and organizational researcher and consultant, Jon brings extensive proficiency in theory driven core competencies and evidence driven analytical practices to Sparks Research. Like his colleagues, Jon is active in the academic community, teaching graduate courses at his alma mater, Clemson University, in research methods as well as knowledge management.


David Williams

Vice President of Customer Relations

With 13 years on the Sparks team, David utilizes his years of research experience to provide clients a successful strategy to cover their needs as well as overseeing the development and accuracy of the client’s deliverables.  As Vice President of Client Relations David focuses on the entire client experience from discovery to delivery.  David’s background includes retail management and sales. He also serves the academic community, teaching regular courses in marketing research, policy and strategy, and business communications.


LaTasha Woods

Vice President of Data and Managed Services

LaTasha is the Vice President of Data & Managed Services and is known for her ability to give data a voice. With over 15 years of experience in marketing research, LaTasha has managed, handled and overseen over 2.5MM records – and that number is growing. Additionally, she oversees all IT and network security divisions.


Jermaine Dawkins

Project Manager

Jermaine has over 10 years of experience in various departments at Sparks. He combines front-line knowledge of all Phone Center roles and activities along with qualitative responsibilities. Such responsibilities include: intercepts, mystery shops, recruiting focus groups, in-depth interviews and reviews of various works for different types of themes. Jermaine has a knack for storytelling and formulating creative ways to display data output to clients. Jermaine is a graduate of Tri-County Technical College (AAS in Management) and Southern Wesleyan University (BS in BA) providing a strong background in management and leadership.


Bridget Jenkins


Bridget manages our on-site telephone center- along with bringing organization and meaning to a diverse range of data collection output. She brings 20 years of management experience to the team, with 11 of those years being here at Sparks. Bridget provides insight into project strategy, ensures data collection quality, and manages a staff of interviewers and Team Leaders. As part of the team at Sparks,
she works with other department heads to deliver the best results for our clients.


Irina Long


Irina has been with Sparks Research since 1998 and continues to stretch her talents to new levels. Her skillset is very diverse and ranges from data needs to editing and organizing processes and everything in between. She acquired a BA in Psychology from Clemson University and an MA from Western Carolina in Clinical Psychology. Hobbies: long walks on the beach, proofreading, thinking of and preparing for every potential disaster scenario, utilizing inappropriate language and humor in daily communication, and increasing accuracy and efficiency in data verification.