Rutgers GSE CMSI

Clarissa J. Sparks

Clarissa J. Sparks is currently a Higher Education Leadership doctoral candidate at Clark Atlanta University, located in Atlanta, Georgia. As a researcher and practitioner, Clarissa’s research examines branding in higher education as it relates to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through qualitative inquiry. Her most recent work explores the components of the brand development process that influence enrollment management, academic program development, and higher education branding and marketing strategy. Clarissa’s research interest also lies in entrepreneurship, innovation and personal development of Black women.

Her doctoral dissertation was conducted in consultation with Dennis Kimbro and Chike Akua; both, examined the use of a relatively new methodology for the design of branding higher education. In her research, she developed an integrated design and analysis for her proprietary methodology called the SPARKS Model™, Strategic Practices for Administrators, Recruiters, Key Stakeholders, and Students in which both strength and serviceability requirements are explicitly satisfied. She is excited to share and continue to explore this methodology and collaborate with other practitioners to expand its potential.

Clarissa is passionate about turning ideas into visual and tangible experiences and always bring a fresh perspective to the subject of branding. She is intentional about leveraging her experience across a wide range of industries to help build stronger brands. She leads her proprietary branding method Brand Focus™ around the globe to help entrepreneurs, founders, and industry leaders gain clarity on who they are, what they do, and why it matters. Her objective as an instructor is to motivate participants to develop their own learning interests and critical thinking—to establish a collaborative learner-centered environment.

Her commitment to education, academic training and 10 years of experience leading Sparks + Co., a strategic branding and marketing consultancy as the founder, and branding strategist has prepared her to be an effective researcher, instructor and practitioner.

Sparks has partnered with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Technical Colleges to teach the methodology Brand Thinking and how to apply a four-phase brand development process to strategic planning through the use of the Brand Thinking Canvas™.

Sparks received a Master of Science in Management from the Sorrell College of Business, Troy University. She graduated, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and a minor in International Business from Albany State University in Albany, GA. Sparks studied International Business abroad at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, before earning her certification in Digital Graphics and Design from the Art Institute of Atlanta.

Summer 2019, Sparks studied abroad as a Clark Atlanta University Global Ambassador at Beijing Foreign Studies University and Jilin University in Beijing and Changchun, China with the Chinese United States Foreign Exchange Foundation.

Clarissa is the host of Brand Focus Live Business Radio, a podcast where entrepreneurs and experts share who they are, what they do, and why it matters