Meet The Team

Parminder K. Jassal​, Ph.D.

Founder | Chief Executive Officer
Parminder is serving working learners as the CEO of Social Tech Inc., a public benefit corporation headquartered in Austin, TX.  Parminder founded in 2018 and also conducts research as the Founding Director of the Learn and Work Futures Lab (2016) at the Institute for the Future. Parminder’s early perspectives are shaped by experiences at Fortune 50 companies such as at Ford Motor Company, Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, and Lucent Technologies along with co-founding start-ups like Technology Solutions and Consulting, Bombay House Restaurant, and East Indian Trading Cafe.​  Parminder strives to apply foresight to promote positive culture shifts and improve inequities.
In 2012, Dr. Jassal was named Founding CEO of ACT Foundation where she oversaw the organization’s unique role as an operating foundation, strategic investor, and incubation partner in support of the New Learning Economy and Rise of Working Learners (published). Dr. Jassal previously served as a program officer supporting postsecondary success for low-income young adults at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in Economic Development leading workforce innovation at Greater Louisville Inc.
From being born in London to completing high school in India to graduating as a product of public higher education in the United States, Parminder’s life reflects the world economy.  Parminder fluently speaks three languages and has worked and serves on boards across the globe.  Her post-secondary experiences began with an A.S. from Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa.  While transitioning from the for-profit to the philanthropic sector, Parminder earned her Doctorate in Higher Education with a focus on Technology and Economics from the University of Louisville.

Merrilea Mayo, Ph.D.

Founding Collaborator | Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Mayo’s work focuses on technologies, tools, and concepts that enable the 2/3 of Americans without a 4 year degree to access skilled jobs.  At a tactical level, much of this work involves the assessment and transmission of skills data, and/or the design of software systems that enable skills-based transactions to occur.  At a strategic level, Mayo isolates the financial, education and employment trends that influence new education and work paradigms.
Just prior to her arrival at Social Tech, Dr. Mayo operated a consulting firm specializing in skills assessment reviews and hiring funnel design.  Earlier in her career, Dr. Mayo served as Director of the Future of Learning Initiatives at the Kauffman Foundation and, prior to that, Director of the National Academies’ Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable.  Dr. Mayo has launched two non-profits, ASTRA and the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, both of which continue to operate to this day.  Dr. Mayo is a materials scientist and engineer by training, having received her doctorate in that field from Stanford University in 1988, publishing approximately 80 technical articles, and serving as the President of the 15,000 member Materials Research Society in 2003.

Holly Sparkman

Certified Public Accountant | Certified Valuation Analyst
As a CFO, Holly specializes in tax and business valuation services along with financial, legal affairs and administrative management.
Holly serves as an advisor to Boards of Directors for several national and international organizations and has supported several clients through strategic growth, debt/equity financings, and successful exits with gross enterprise values ranging from $10M to over $100M. Prior to founding Sparkman Consulting Group in 2009 which was merged with Rorie Sparkman & Engel in 2011, Ms. Sparkman served as CFO for CellzDirect Inc., a life science company, for more than five years, overseeing its growth from a venture capital backed start-up through the sale of the company to publicly held LIFE Technologies in 2008 for $57M. She also served as CFO of CEDRA Corporation (Worldwide Clinical Trials), a contract research organization to the pharmaceutical industry, from 1999 through its sale in a private equity transaction in 2007.
Prior to her service at CEDRA, Ms. Sparkman was the CFO of Public Strategies, Inc., an international public affairs consulting firm. Her experience also includes public accounting experience in tax with KPMG Peat Marwick.
She has served as Director for nonprofits including the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium and the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas and as a reviewer for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. Ms. Sparkman holds a bachelors degree in Accounting from Texas A&M University and a masters degree in taxation from William Howard Taft University.

Herb Head

Founding Collaborator | Veteran Liaison
Herb started his military career at Eastern Kentucky University, in the ROTC program graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate.  Commissioning as an Infantry Officer Herb received the prestigious Airborne Wings and the coveted Ranger Tab distinguishing himself among his peers.  Herb’s first active duty assignment was Fort Hood Texas, as a Rifle Platoon leader in the 2nd Armor Division “Hell on Wheels”, and Company Executive Officer before Permeant Change of Station to Fort Richardson, AK and becoming HHC Company Commander 1st Battalion 17th Infantry Regiment.  Herb, also serving as Battalion S1 and other staff positions while in Alaska.  Herb was selected to serve as a Foreign Area Officer to South Asia and spent time training and working with the Indian Army and was the first American Soldier to attend the Indian Junior Commanders Course in Mhow, India.
Transitioning to civilian life was a journey that involved working in start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and some entrepreneurial efforts like launching Grisanti Head Commercial Real Estate, and more recently Adventure Challenge Experiences.  Using experiential learning methodologies, Herb hosts a variety of leadership experiences for schools, camps and corporations to build relationships, teams, and soft skills.
Herb lives in Austin, TX and is a proud parent of two Aggies (gig em), and serves as volunteer staff at Khalsa Center Miracle Valley in BC Canada as well as volunteering at his local church.

Mary Dixon

Founding Team | Special Projects
Mary has over thirty years of experience in the construction industry. Her experiences are concentrated in the office and warehousing sectors for pipeline contractors in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
Former positions include:
 Procurement Manager, Administrative Manager, Material Coordinator, Document Control Coordinator, Warehouse Coordinator, Warehouse Technician, Administrative Assistant and Project Secretary. Mary is a proud graduate of North Central Technical College with an Associate Degree in Data Processing & Accounting.

Hope Clark, Ph.D.

Practical Futures Advisory | Principal Advisor | Work + Learn Futures
Hope Clark is a thought leader in work + learn research, policy and practice. She is passionate
about helping individuals develop future skills to thrive in a shapeshifting work + learn
landscape. Her talents include combining foresight and research insights to create equitable
futures for all learners, especially working learners. Her specific area of expertise is translating
complex data and research theories to design and develop practical solutions that provide the
greatest impact and opportunity for positive change.

Hope served in a variety of technical and leadership roles over the course of her career working with local, state and national non-profit, government and think tank organizations in the
workforce development and higher education marketplace.

Hope received her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Northern Illinois
University and completed her Foresight Practitioners training at Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California.

Hope’s philosophy and approach to solving problems is to embrace chaos and disruption to
uncover new insights and translate those insights into action. She enjoys making new
connections and discovering novel technologies that empower people to experience meaningful and satisfying life journeys.

Her full digital portfolio, including notable accomplishments and publications, can be found at