Our team

We're a passionate team of change-agents, engineers, and business people.


Leadership

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Laurel Djoukeng

CEO & Founder

Laurel Djoukeng is on a mission to help everyone establish fruitful connections with people worldwide through meaningful engagements. Laurel considers himself a bridge-builder who understands that everyone has the potential to be impactful.

He earned his MBA at Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business in 2020, where he was a Management Leadership for Tomorrow Fellow (MLT). In 2008 he received his Bachelor's in Accounting from Hampton University.

Djoukeng began his career in 2008 as an Associate for Con Edison's Growth Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) Program. His profession in Finance started in 2010 as an Investment Analyst for PGIM Real Estate, a global private equity firm with $70 billion in assets under management. In 2012, he transitioned to the Carlton Group, an international investment banking firm with more than $140 billion in transactions.

In 2011, Laurel founded the Catalyst Network Foundation Inc.(CNF), a 501(c)(3) social enterprise focused on life enrichment and professional development, with a mission to engage high-potential youth and veterans by providing the proper tools, networks, skill-building projects, and development opportunities to maximize talent. Ranking Congressman Ed Towns awarded a proclamation to the Foundation in recognition of the organization's achievements.

CNF programming involves partnerships with 21 high schools, 35 community organizations, and 20 Fortune 500 corporations; Laurel has raised more than $220,000; managed a team of 16 volunteers, 8 board members, and hired more than 6 different Education Program Managers.

Laurel has arranged business, law, and tech symposiums at Google, college fairs, resume development, career, and college preparatory workshops throughout the academic school year, instructing more than 5,000 high school students. Djoukeng has curated more than 30 professional events and diversity career recruiting sessions for CNF.

More than 200 High School students have become CNF Fellowship Scholars (99 percent have graduated H.S., and more than 90 percent of them have enrolled in higher education institutions). Since 2011, the Fellows have experienced corporate tours and pitched capstone presentations and interventions for inner-city school challenges to several companies, including Google, Goldman Sachs, NIKE, LinkedIn, Microsoft, GAP, BET, NPR, Infor, The Carlyle Group, Covington & Burling LLP, The Peebles Corporation, Deloitte, and NBC.

Laurel enjoys bringing ideas to fruition; he is currently learning how to play the guitar, meditates daily, partakes in Hot Yoga weekly, and is always open to a good game of chess. He is a full-time vegetarian, part-time vegan, and works daily to improve the harmony of his Spirit, Mind, and Body.

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Florin Relea

Chief Technology Officer

Florin Relea is a nerd who is obsessed with with technology and hacking. He has been passionate about computers from a pretty young age. Curiosity is what pushed him to deep dive in learning how computers work on the inside as well as on the outside.

Before joining Sparc, Florin has been working part time as a full stack web developer while being certificated as a Technician Computing Operator, completing the Cisco internet networks courses and the Cisco cyber security courses.

Florin spends most of his time coding and learning new technologies. This is how he managed to write almost 1.000.000 lines of code in 2 years.

He is present on many software development related platforms like Stack Overflow, Github, CodePen and "Code Grepper" where he helped over 25.000 developers through his answers.


Business Development (Strategy)

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Michelle Yang

Business Development (Strategy) Manager

Michelle Yang is a recent graduate from Duke University studying Economics (Finance concentration) and Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) with minors in both Biology and French. She was previously a Full Stack Coding and Product Management Intern at M4JAM (Pty) Ltd. in Cape Town, South Africa and a researcher at Harvard University/Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston MA. As an aspiring social entrepreneur, she has actively pursued her passion in the cross-section of finance, technology and entrepreneurship: Her “Joblette” team was the winning Duke team of the Hult Prize Startup Challenge and she recently led a Duke team to evaluate the business model and strategy for prominent FinTech companies currently disrupting the financial services industry (i.e. Lending Club, eToro and Wealthfront).
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Jeffrey He

Jeffrey He is a Senior at Duke University majoring in Computer Science, minoring in Economics. In the summer of 2019, he interned at Capital One as a Product Manager. He is the captain of the Duke Men's Club Ultimate team.
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Kristen Mendoza

Kristen Mendoza is a Senior at Duke University studying Economics, Visual Media Studies, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In the summer of 2019, she interned at Neiman Marcus Group on the Corporate Strategy team.

Mandy Chen

Mandy is a MBA candidate for Fuqua School of Business.

Technology

Kyle Ryan

Kyle Ryan is a Junior at Duke University studying Computer Science. In the summer of 2018, he interned at Delta Arts Alliance in Mississippi. He was a Campaign Fellow for the North Carolina Democratic Party in 2018.

Amik Mandal

Amik is a Junior at Duke University studying Computer Science.

Michael Williams

Michael is a senior at Duke studying Computer Science and Biology, and wants to work towards developing medical software.
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Eric Lin

Eric is a junior at Duke University studying Computer Science and Math.
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Lizzet Clifton

Lizzet Clifton is a senior at Duke, double majoring in Computer Science and Visual & Media Studies. Lizzet interned at AppStrax Technology for web development and was a part of Google’s Applied Machine Learning Intensive this past Summer.

Yash Patil

Yash is a CS student at Duke who works on product and development at Sparc.
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Avery Brown

Avery is a junior at Duke University studying Computer Science and Economics. He intends to combine his background in business and technology to enter product management.

Product

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Ayush Gupta

Ayush is a Product Manager at Sparc. He has six years of experience working as a software engineer, and cross-functional data analyst at Fortune 500 firms and high growth startups in India and Singapore. His most recent stint was at Google in Mountain View.
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Segun Bright

Segun Bright is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Duke University. He earned his MSc in Computing from The University of Dundee and a B.S. in Computer Science at Babcock University. In the summer of 2019, he interned at Microsoft as a Product Marketing Manager.