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. 

 
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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 20 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. Rich loves to Scuba Dive, order IPA’s and talk even when no one is listening. 

 
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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 24th year with the company – so she is really old – oh I mean “wise”. 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 long career at Sparks Research.

 
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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. Jon is active in the academic community and recognized with awards for both scholarship and teaching. Jon served his alma mater, Clemson University, for five years before joining the faculty of Charleston Southern University's department of analytics in 2016. He was trained in Computational Analytics at Carnegie Mellon University and holds both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Economics, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Clemson University. He is also certified as a Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR) and a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Additionally, Jon is a popular speaker for multiple academic and trade conferences including the Academy of Management and the American Educational Research Association, and he has several research papers published in academic and trade journals, including Leadership Quarterly and Quirks Marketing Research Review. His insights are featured in multiple mainstream and trade publications, notably The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, Trend Hunter, Customer Experience Insight, and more.

 
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David Williams

Vice President of Customer Relations

With 18 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. David proudly holds a BS in Marketing from Clemson University, he wears Clemson orange all the time, and has an MBA degree from Southern Wesleyan University. David also serves the academic community, teaching regular courses in marketing research, policy and strategy, and business communications. 

 
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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 18 years of experience in marketing research, LaTasha has managed, handled and overseen over 10MM records – and that number is growing. Additionally, she oversees all IT and network security divisions. When she is not in her office you can find her at the baseball field wondering how she obtained a plethora of pets - as she watches her son hit another homerun. 

 
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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. Jermaine enjoys fashion even more than his beautiful wife and always wins the superlative for “Best Dressed” at company parties and client presentations – no polls or surveys are needed to back this up.

 
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Bridget Jenkins

PHONE CENTER MANAGER

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 15 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. In addition, she can tell many stories of maintaining acreage and how to wrangle very large goldfish. 

 
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Irina Long

DATA PROCESSING SPECIALIST

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.