Meet the Staff

Spring was founded in 2011 by Anja Thiessen and Bianca Zaharescu, together with the founding team members Valerie Papillon and Matt Sutton, to invest in the brilliance and potential of the amazing students in Coahoma County, and to address the lack of opportunities and resources available to them. Between 2003 and 2010, all 4 had spent gap years in Clarksdale and built relationships with young people and their families while working as teacher’s assistants and with Habitat for Humanity. Throughout college, they stayed in touch, and moved back as soon as they could. Today, Spring operates with an-ever growing staff of caring educators and volunteers, the majority of whom grew up in Clarksdale. Rachel Bouer, who was a founding cohort director of Junior Spring in 2004, joined Bianca & Anja on the leadership team in 2019.

Bianca Zaharescu.jpg
Bianca Zaharescu

Co-Founder/Leadership Team/College Spring 

Anja Thiessen.jpg
Anja Thiessen

Co-Founder/Leadership Team 

Board of Directors

The Spring Board of Directors is made up of committed and caring professionals and Clarksdale community members who bring their expertise, passion, connections, and resources to our organization to help us thrive. 

Mary Thompson, Board Chair
Adrienne White Hudson
Andy Seth
Donna Merkel
Steve Jossell
Barbara Linder
Amanda Johnson
Anthony Philipp
Fred Cohen

Spring Initiative empowers young people in the Mississippi Delta to beat the odds, access the opportunities they deserve, and build successful, happy, and hopeful lives for themselves.


Phone: (217) 979 - 6807

Registered Charity: 45-2243846

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Spring Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Copyright 2015, Spring Initiative. All Rights Reserved.