CLEVELAND — Who are the Northeast Ohioans who are defying the status quo and designing innovative new ways to move the community forward?

And how can we get more of them?

A new Cleveland Leadership Center event series, titled “Spark,” will explore those questions, by recognizing fresh-thinking leaders and having them share their mindset to nurture a new generation of innovators. WKYC is a sponsor of the series, along with Freshwater Cleveland.

The project launches on Aug. 29 with a symposium, “Spark: Grit to Great,” from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cleveland Metropolitan Conference Center, 1375 E. 9th St., Cleveland. Sponsored by Skoda Minotti, the symposium will introduce the first class of Fresh Innovators. They are:

  • Stephanie Buda, founder of The Kids of 216.
  • Thomas Gill, president of Urban Community School in Cleveland.
  • Jacqueline Gillon, Black Environmental Leaders founder.
  • Shelly Gracon, founder and CEO of GLO Cleveland.

All four will be interviewed during the fall on WKYC’s weekly We the People show, which expands to an hour in late September.

Spark participants will hear from speakers who will challenge them to view the familiar through a new lens and take part in “Spark Lab” sessions facilitated by business and community leaders who have successfully leveraged innovation concepts.

“The status quo will not get us where we want to go,” said Marianne Crosley, Cleveland Leadership Center president and CEO. “Spark is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and be curious. It will spark innovative thinking, collaboration and action that can change how we work and live.”

Cost is $100; $25 for students. Visit www.cleveleads.org/Spark to register and to see complete list of speakers, labs and facilitators.