About Us

Cynthia Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Sparks for Success!

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Arriving by limo for a Sparks for Success! performance

Cynthia founded Sparks for Success! in 2016 after serving for three years as the Texas branch director for a Pennsylvania organization also serving children of inmates. The issues we were seeing for the children we work with in Central East Austin caused us to realize a different model is necessary if we want to have a real impact on ending intergenerational incarceration. This ignited the spark that has become Sparks for Success!

Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and a Master of Business Administration. She has studied piano at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, the University of Delaware, the Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg, and The University of Texas at Austin, and studied business administration at St. Edward’s University.

For more than 40 years, Cynthia’s teaching career has encompassed private piano lessons, class theory, and general music classes. She has also directed children’s choirs throughout that time. Her experience includes working with children in early childhood development through music. On the business side, Cynthia was the Director of Administration and Operations for 19 years for a private family foundation. Throughout the years she has served on several boards and has been active as a volunteer in her community.

Psalm 90:17 NASB

Jim Ebbitt, Board Member

Jim Ebbitt was Senior Vice President for Life and Health Care Products. Prior to joining Answer Financial, Ebbitt served as Executive Vice President of Developmental Markets of United Healthcare in Minneapolis where he built a national channel alliance strategy and partnerships with major companies such as American Express. Ebbitt also served as President of United Healthcare-Individual Business, and managed the Individual Business Unit for Blue Cross of California at Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc. Prior to Wellpoint, he directed Health Care operations in North and South Carolina for The Prudential Insurance Co. of America. Ebbitt attended the University of Minnesota, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Kimberly Rigsby, Board Member

Kimberly has worked with disaster relief organizations, national and international pregnancy help centers, sustainability initiatives, and the Texas legislature. She has served nonprofit organizations for 20 years in various leadership roles as: Board Member, Executive Director, Relationship Development Consultant, Program Director, Operations Director, and Volunteer. She has a Master of Public Administration degree from Walden University. Her desire to see all children have access to fresh food led to her thesis on food security. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Liberty University. She has been married to Marc for 20 years and has 4 children, and 1 English bulldog.

Roshini Patrick, Board Member

Roshini Patrick started her charitable activity in 2005 when hurricane Katrina visited Texas. Simply supporting charities financially was no longer an option and she was actively looking for a local charity to volunteer her time and get to know the inner workings of a charitable organization. In 2013 she happened to cross paths with Cynthia Smith to help support the work of changing the trajectory of children of inmates. Roshini joined the board of Sparks for Success! to focus on our own backyard here in Texas.

Roshini Patrick has spent the last 20 years in the accounting field in corporate environments, working for both small and large corporations. She received her Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Finance in Australia and earned her Certified Management Accountant designation here in Texas.

Larry Steele, Board Member

Larry Steele is a retired US Air Force Senior Master Sergeant who spent 22 years as a Weather Observer, Weather Forecaster, and Weather Superintendent.  After retiring from the Air Force Larry launched a second career in the Information Systems arena, serving as a Tech Writer, Programmer, Operational and Computer Auditor, and Security and Disaster Recovery VP.  Larry earned his BS in Business Administration and Management from the University of Maryland while in the Air Force.  He earned his AA in Computer Programming Technology from Metro Tech of Omaha after his discharge. Larry spent many years as a programmer, an operational and computer auditor as well as a disaster recovery professional.

After retiring from VISA in 2007, Larry entered the volunteer community by joining the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN). He immediately became a Core Team member and a grant writer. Larry has been deployed a number of times to help the survivors of floods, fires, tornadoes, and plant explosions.  Larry is on the ADRN Advisory Board.

He has served as President and board member of several non-profit organizations.