Rena Chen

Executive Director, Spark Scholars
Board of Directors

Rena has an academic background in bio-cultural anthropology and a professional background in education reform, startups, and social enterprises. She taught courses on business IT and gastronomy to highlight the connections between food, our planet, and each other. Her hunger to learn more has taken her to cricket farming co-ops in Thailand, female coffee entrepreneurs in Costa Rica, floating markets along the Mekong, swiftlet towns in Malaysia, and the endless tracts of palm oil plantations in Borneo. Her research on the cultural, dietary, and environmental values of eating insects led to UNFAO collaboration to create a supportive network. She currently volunteers with organizations promoting campaign finance reform, peace-building cultural exchange, and prison education reform and is interested in political organizing, community engagement, and helping nonprofits become financially sustainable. Rena believes that deeper understanding of liberal arts and humanities alongside STEM is needed in order to truly be able to use technology, engineering, and design thinking to sustainably solve the problems of global societies. Born and raised in Atlantic City, Rena has two dogs and a parrot who are all too smart for their own good. She holds a BA in Anthropology with Urban Studies and Environmental Studies certificates from Princeton.