Lightspark Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to facilitate progress through story by designing and hosting conferences, designing and managing film and media impact campaigns, conducting in-depth research and analysis, and supporting independent investigative journalism. Lightspark’s largest events to date have been the internally-produced Lightspark Media Summits, which took place in 2017 and 2018 at the University of Utah, featured more than 50 speakers total from across the U.S. (including Abigail Disney, Keke Palmer, Maria Bello, KASKADE, and Tyler Glenn), attracted hundreds of attendees, and received glowing critical acclaim from a wide variety of speakers, donors, and attendees.
Lightspark aims to create a world where our mediated communications promote authenticity, equity, and inclusion, where all demographics are meaningfully represented and engaged in the public discourse, and where humanity draws inspiration for innovative solutions to social problems through empathy-oriented communication. In Lightspark’s world, facts matter, we treat each other with compassion and respect, and the opportunity for self-actualization is abundant. All stakeholders are informed about, engaged in, and accountable for making the world a safer, smarter, more fulfilling place for everyone, and the lines that support an “us-vs.-them” paradigm dissolve.
Board of Trustees
Jonathan Ruga, Esq., MBA, CPA
Founding Board Chair
Jonathan has a long history of community involvement in education, health and human services, and defending democracy, having served on the boards of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, The Road Home, St. Mark’s Hospital, and Alliance for a Better Utah. As CEO of Sentry Financial, he is primarily responsible for establishing Sentry’s strategic direction and co-leading the Equipment Financing Division (in addition to overseeing the two other divisions: Real Estate and Private Equity). Upon graduating from the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law in 1982, where he was a member of the Utah Law Review, Jonathan worked with the law firm of Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless, where he specialized in the areas of financing and leasing, federal taxation, and real estate and business law. Jonathan and his wife, Tina, have three grown children and live in Salt Lake City.
Scott Young, Esq.
Founding Board Member
Scott is passionate about creating a better social system where the chances to succeed are shared equally by all. When not working on Lightspark initiatives, Scott co-leads Sentry Financial’s Equipment Financing Division, including establishing and maintaining Sentry’s equipment finance programs and its relationships with participating financial institutions. Prior to re-joining Sentry in 1998 after co-founding it in 1986, Scott was a partner with the law firm of Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless, where his practice emphasized commercial litigation and the areas of equipment financing and general business and corporate law. Scott graduated from the University of Utah School of Business with an undergraduate degree in finance, and obtained a law degree from the University of Utah College of Law, where he was a member of the Utah Law Review. He and his wife, Carolyn, have four kids and live in Salt Lake City.
Jared Ruga, JD, MBA, MFA
Founding Board Member
Jared is a GLAAD-nominated and Emmy®-winning producer, writer, director, and media executive in film and TV, charged with developing, financing, and producing meaningful content that engages audiences in conversation and action for a prosocial agenda. He performs most of these roles as CEO of Vavani Productions, an ethos-driven film and TV production company he founded in 2017. Vavani’s first project, feature-length documentary QUIET HEROES, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was internationally distributed, and won a Daytime Emmy® Award. Jared earned JD, MBA, and MFA degrees from the University of Utah and BBA and dual-BA degrees from the University of San Diego, where he was inducted into multiple honors societies, including Phi Beta Kappa. Jared enjoys meeting new people, trying new cocktails, and seeing new places, and he splits his time between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. He’s currently learning how not to kill houseplants before he considers getting a dog.