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Matt McQueeny

Kiera Wespestad

Matt McQueeney and Kiera Wespestad were elected to the Sparta Education Foundation (SEF) as board members during the June Board meeting.

The new members are joining the SEF board as it says goodbye to several longtime volunteers, including trustees Catherine Jennings, Andy Garger, and Gwen Donovan. “Catherine, Andy and Gwen have been integral parts of the success of the SEF,” said Donna West, SEF President. “Together, they have put in countless hours, fresh ideas, and worked hard to bring unique educational experiences to our Sparta classrooms.”

Garger was a longtime volunteer with the SEF before joining the board as a trustee in 2017. He was co-chair of the foundation’s Dragon Boat Festival, and was instrumental in bringing on new sponsors to the event.

Jennings, a teacher at Sparta’s Helen Morgan School, will continue to volunteer with the SEF, as will Garger. Donovan will be leaving the SEF after volunteering with the organization since 2013. After raising two sons, now in their 20s, she and her husband have relocated out of the district.

The board also bid farewell to interim Superintendent Patrick McQueeney, as he leaves Sparta to fill the role of Superintendent in the Wanaque School District. “Patrick was a great liaison for the SEF,” said West. “We could always count on his presence at our SEF events, and he was a regular attendee of our board meetings, where we could count on his input as a Sparta administrator. He will be dearly missed by all in our organization.”

McQueeney and Wespestad join the SEF as trustees, eager to help continue its success.

“Kiera volunteered her skills in the field of communication at just the right time,” said West. “Gwen (Donovan) has handled all of our press for years, and we were in need of a person to fill her shoes. Kiera has jumped right in and filled that role for us.”

Wespestad and her husband moved to Sparta in 2014, and have three young children in the district’s schools. She is the owner and manager of the M. John Scanlan Funeral Home in Pompton Plains, and serves as the fourth generation in her family to run that business. She is a 2003 graduate of Susquehanna University, and holds a degree in Journalism.

Matt McQueeney brings thorough expertise in technology to the SEF, and was especially helpful in the foundation’s recent inaugural Cornament. “We threw a lot at Matt in the 11th hour for the Cornament,” said West. “We really couldn’t have pulled off the technology portion of that event without his help.”

With more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing and web project management, McQueeney’s skill set will be a great asset to the SEF moving forward. He holds a degree in Psychology from New York University, and is nearing the conclusion of his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Rutgers Business School, with a dual concentration in Leadership and Entrepreneurship.

McQueeney and his wife settled in Sparta in 2011, and have two young sons.  They are looking forward to raising their children in Sparta’s schools.

Palleschi, Sarnowski, Egli, West

The meeting also resulted in the voting in of the new executive committee. Donna West will continue to serve as President; Heather Egli will be moving to the position of Vice President; Jillian Palleschi was elected Secretary; and Dan Sarnowski will continue to serve as SEF Treasurer.

Since 2006, the Sparta Education Foundation has funded over $1,135,229 in grants to all five of Sparta’s Public Schools. The Foundation is an all-volunteer, independent 501© (3) NJ Non-Profit Corporation whose mission is to engage the entire community in philanthropic giving. Visit for more information about joining or volunteering.