staff

 

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
Education Program 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 the Art Project Manager for Ben's Bells, I am able to combine my passion for ceramics and mosaics 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
Bookkeeper

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 13 years teaching college students, where I brought a social justice focus to teaching writing, literature & film, gender & women’s studies, and civic engagement. 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 because kindness is inherently social justice - oriented for me. I am thrilled to be working for an organization that teaches us how the practice of intentioanl kindness can empower us, even in challenging situations. This work brings together my love of education, community, art, and social justice.

 

 

Charlie Horman
Director of Development

I am a new resident of Tucson relocating from North Carolina where I spent the previous 15 years working in Children's and Youth Services nonprofit. I most recently served as the executive director for Communities In Schools of Cumberland County. I have extensive experience in community engagement, grant development, and fundraising. I hold a BA in Political Science from The Catholic University of America. I am married to Allen Horman and have three grown children.

 

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
Merchandise Manager

Most of my life has been spent in Ohio, where I grew up and earned my BA in Hospitality Management at The Ohio State University. 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. 

 

 


 

Shop KIND

 

Leah TaylorEva Owen
Retail Assitant

I was born in Oregon but I moved down here at such an early age that Tucson has always been my home. It took me a while to warm up to the city but with each passing year I fall harder and harder in love with it. I share a home with my husband, whom I married in 2007, and our six animals. I have a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, and I used that degree to help guide my part time business as a doula with Tucson Doulas. Some of things I enjoy doing are playing board games with my friends and famiy, visiting Disneyland any chance I get, and discussing the Harry Potter series with anyone who's interested. I am very happy to be working at Ben's Bells. I love helping to spread kindness throughout our community in my own small way. Stop in at Shop Kind and say hello!

 

 
 

Tucson, AZ Studios

 

Leah TaylorKate Callahan
Studio Manager

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. Tucson'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 exchange. 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 engagement. 

 

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!

 

 

 

Leah TaylorKali Villasaez
Studio Assistant

Hi there! I'm a Phoenician who has recently come home to her birth city, and I'm already in love with my home and rooted here. I'm super excited to be working for Ben's Bells and I think that shows in my enthusiasm! Working with non profits has always been a part of my life and I love doing so through art. I've already experienced so much love and kindness during the little time I've been here and I'm excited to spread kindness myself! I'm looking forward to being apart of this amazing community and can't wait to meet everybody who walks through our doors.  

 

Interns

Frida Fernanda Robles
The University of Arizona
Public Health
May 2019