Alice Steven Sparks of Ft. Mitchell joined Northern Kentucky University’s Board of Regents in 1992, and was subsequently elected to serve as its chair in 1994, a milestone move for both her and NKU—Sparks was the first woman to chair a public university in the Commonwealth. But this trailblazer’s dedication to public service and philanthropy can be traced back decades to when, at a young age, she worked as an intern to Kentucky’s first lady Mildred Chandler during her husband, Albert “Happy” Chandler’s, second term as 49th governor of Kentucky (1955-59).
Over the years, Sparks has shown a commitment to impacting education issues at both the state and national levels, serving as legislative chair of the Kentucky PTA, as well as advocating tirelessly for the Kentucky Education Reform Act. She’s been recognized by a number of educational groups for her work improving education, from kindergarten to university, in statewide educational reform efforts. In addition to serving NKU, Sparks has worked to impact higher education across the Commonwealth, sitting on the Board of Trustees for both University of Kentucky and Thomas More College, and on the board for the Governor’s Scholars program.
Sparks currently serves on the executive board of NKU’s Go Norse Fund Board, supporting NKU Athletics, and is a regular sponsor of athletics events and is a basketball season ticketholder. The Alice Sparks Ticket Office in BB&T Arena was named in honor of this support of NKU Athletics and the home of NKU basketball. In addition to Athletics, Sparks has also funded a wide variety of scholarships providing support for NKU students, including the D. Joseph Sparks Memorial Endowed Scholarship for student leaders, scholarships for student-athletes, support for graduate students in the College of Education and Human Services, and the Distinguished Scholarship for academically talented students. She has also supported the Chase Tort Room Fund for NKU’s law students and the Judge Judy M. West Scholarship within Chase College of Law.
Sparks’ accolades are evidence of her enthusiastic advocacy of worthy causes and include the Devou Cup from the Northern Kentucky Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation; honors and recognitions from WKET and WCET, Hospice of the Bluegrass and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; and the Lincoln Award from NKU. She was named one of 100 Women of Distinction by the Wilderness Road Council on the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary.
On a professional level, Sparks has proven herself time and again to be a skillful businessperson, most notably as founder, president and chief executive officer of SSK Company Communities, a real estate company that specializes in manufactured home communities. SSK is ranked among the top 30 manufactured home community companies in the country, with more than 6,000 homes in their properties’ portfolio.
Sparks is the widow of D. Joseph Sparks, a local businessperson who owned Hebron-based highway construction firm The Harper Company. She is the mother of two children, John and Sally, and the proud grandmother of two grandchildren.