Ben's Mom


Leah TaylorJeannette Maré
Founder/Executive Director

The simple kindness of strangers and friends sustained me and my family after our son, Ben, died just before his third birthday. Inspired by these gestures, we created Ben’s Bells, a community project that encourages, celebrates and teaches kindness. Before becoming full-time Executive Director of Ben’s Bells, I was faculty at the University of Arizona teaching discourse analysis. I am grateful to have the opportunity to combine my two passions – teaching and community building – in my role with Ben’s Bells. See more of Jeannette's story here.



Tucson Headquarters


Amy Collinsworth
Marketing & Communications Manager

Born and raised in Glendale, Arizona, I spent the early years of my adult life in Flagstaff, where I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelors in Theatre Performance. Looking for a change of scenery and wanting to be closer to my family, I moved to Tucson in 2006 and I have been working in nonprofit development and marketing since 2010. I feel fortunate to now call Tucson my home. It is a rare place full of character and beauty. One of the things that makes Tucson so inspiring is Ben’s Bells. I am blessed to have the opportunity to support this work.



Colleen ConlinColleen Conlin
Art Project Manager

I received a BA in Studio Art, minoring in Psychology, from the University of Arizona. As an artist, teacher and Art Project Manager for Ben's Bells, I am able to combine my passion for ceramics with my work. I am drawn to Ben's Bells because it inspires us to connect with one another, especially through art. I continue to be inspired by the stories from people who are touched by the project. 



  Leah Taylor
Sandra Darang

Raised in a military family and married to a military serviceman, I have had the opportunity to live in many places. I enjoy meeting new people and all the wonderful diversity that they share with me. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and have worked the past 8 years in the nonprofit sector as a bookkeeper. In 2006, my husband, son and I moved to Tucson. I feel blessed that I found a wonderful place to share and witness kindness daily and look forward to new experiences at Ben’s Bells.



Leah TaylorLaura Gronewold, PhD
Director of Education

I grew up in Michigan and have called the Western U.S. home since graduating college. I spent the past 13 years teaching college students, where I brought a social justice focus to teaching writing, gender/women’s studies, and civic engagement. My work teaching civic engagement deepened my connection to Tucson - a dynamic community where artists can still afford to live and work - and fueled a strong desire to immerse myself more fully in community education and development. I was drawn to Ben’s Bells through personal loss, but also because kindness is inherently social justice oriented for me. I am thrilled to be working for an organization that educates and encourages the practice of kindness and brings together my love of education, community, art, and social justice.



Katie Kevershan
Development Coordinator

I was born and raised in Tucson, and have a lot of love for the city and community. I graduated with a BA  in Sociology from the University of Arizona with the intention of working in the nonprofit sector. Ben's Bells has provided me the opportunity to do so within an organization whose mission is perfectly in-line with my personal values. I feel so fortunate to be a part of something meaningful and to work for an organization that is so involved with the Tucson community.




Leah TaylorJake Sorgen
Volunteer Coordinator

I'm originally from Woodstock, New York and found Tucson after stints in both Boston, MA and Austin, TX. The community and commitment to culture and the arts I've found here is unlike anything I've seen before. Finding a home at Ben's Bells is a further extension into that community that I engage with as Music Director for The Rogue Theatre and a musician in a variety of ensembles and settings around Tucson. I'm honored to support such an inspiring organization.




Jodi Vander Ploeg
Retail Manager

Most of my life has been spent in Ohio, where I grew up and earned my BA in Hospitality Management at Ohio State. My career has been focused on non-profits and the travel & tourism industry, which includes service in Kazakhstan with the Peace Corps. Throughout my career, my work has reflected my personal passions, and that holds true now more than ever.  It is a privilege and an honor to work with all the wonderful supporters of Ben’s Bells and its mission to spread intentional kindness. 



  Leah TaylorJenny Simmerman
Operations Administrative Assistant

I recently moved to Tucson from San Diego, where I was a marketer for a hair accessory start up, but have family here, and have enjoyed the city and surrounding area for years. I love the indoors, politics, NY Times crossword puzzles, and cooking. I have done undergraduate and graduate studies in Political Science, and do advocacy work for the homeless. I was so taken by the mission of Ben’s Bells, and its impact on others, and I am very glad to be a part of that effort.




Leah TaylorEva Owen
Merchandise Program Assistant



Tucson, AZ Studios


Leah TaylorKate Callahan
Studio Coordinator

A fifth generation Tucsonan, my heart has always been rooted in this beautiful and vibrant desert community. However, after graduating from the University of Arizona with my Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Italian, I ventured to San Francisco where I worked for an auction house in the Contemporary Art department, expanding my knowledge of the arts. Now I am grateful to be back in my home city, working for an organization that allows me to exercise my passion for the arts while simultaneously contributing to a greater and kinder Tucson community (and beyond)!



Leah TaylorBrittany Fitzgerald
Studio Coordinator

I was born in Tempe, AZ but most of my life has been split between Arizona, Colorado and California. I received a BA in Visual Arts at the University of San Diego and had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. For the past eight years I’ve lived in Denver where I had a taste of corporate retail as a visual merchandiser but left to work and volunteer in the nonprofit sector at the Denver Art Museum and the Colorado History Museum. I left Denver in May of 2015, travelling to Costa Rica and back, searching for a new place to call home and a meaningful way to incorporate my passion for art, community and empathy in my everyday life. I feel extremely lucky to have found all of that and more in Tucson and at Ben’s Bells, leaving me feeling more fulfilled than ever before.

  Alyssa Thomas
Studio Assistant

I moved to Tucson nearly 4 years ago to study Architecture at the University of Arizona, right after graduating from a technical art and design school. I'd lived in New York, NY my entire life until then, but immediately fell in love with the sense of community and the amazing weather upon moving. I recently changed paths and am currently finishing up a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art Education, finding a passion for engaging in various projects and helping others in whichever way possible. Ben's Bells is the ideal organization for me to grow professionally and apply the knowledge I've gained over years of artistic coursework. I truly believe in the impact of intentional kindness on our lives and that of others, and I'm humbled by the opportunity to be a part of this team.

Liz Levine
Studio Assistant

A proud Tucsonan from a young age, I graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Spanish. After college, I moved to New York and worked in academic publishing as an Editor for many years. Tuvson's strong community and unique environment eventually drew me back, and I returned in order to pursue non-profit work with a meaningful connection to community impact and excahnge. In addition, I enjoy editing a small local publication and developing various creative skills. I am very lucky to be part of the Ben's Bells team and the mission of intentional kindness in combination with community art and enagagement. 


Connecticut Studio


Cody Foss
Regional Manager

I have lived and worked in Newtown, CT for over 13 years with my wife Jennifer and our  three school aged children. I hold a MS in Health Sciences and a BA in Sociology. I have 25 years, of experience in health and wellness. During this time, I have worked as an allied health professional, public presenter, author and manager/owner of multiple facilities in NYC and Fairfield County, CT. Over the last few years I have passionately created, directed and participated in several community engagements focusing on helping children. These programs have been collaborative efforts with multiple local and national organizations with a focus of teaching Kindness, empathy, compassion and other social emotional Intelligence (SEL) qualities on a community wide basis. I deeply connect with the mission of Ben’s Bells on both a personal and professional level. I’m honored to have an opportunity to spread “Kindness” in the Northeast!


Phoenix, AZ Studio


Christy Brown
Phoenix Studio Manager

A native of the Midwest, I moved to Arizona in 2006 to attend Arizona State University, where I received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Museum Studies and Design Management.  I have a passion for working in non-profits, and I love that Ben's Bells combines my love of working with the community, volunteers, and art. I am so thrilled to be representing Ben's Bells in Phoenix, and to be a part of such an amazing team and inspiring organization that is doing so much for so many!




Sarah Kelly
Studio Assistant

Originally from California, I’ve spent my adulthood living and traveling the world, 14 of those years living abroad.  I moved to the Phoenix area in 2014 with my son.  I am currently working on completing my BA in Liberal Arts with an emphasis on Art Education.  I’ve worked with many non-profits as a teaching artist working with abused and at risk youth, homeless families, and military children.  My passion is in working with non-profits, using art to create and foster community while providing an opportunity for others to experience the joy of creating.  I am very excited to be working with Bens Bells Project, an organization that I feel aligns perfectly with my own personal values while allowing me the opportunity to share my passion for art and community.




Samantha Guzman
University of Arizona Honors College
Criminal Justice, Law, and Public Policy
May 2019


Jessica Gonzales
University of Arizona
Marketing and Business Management 
December 2018