Ben's Mom


Leah TaylorJeannette Maré
Founder/Chief Kindness Officer

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.



Executive Director


Leah Taylor

Helen Gomez
Executive Director

I am a proud Tucson native and am thrilled to be a part of Ben’s Bells! I’ve spent much of my professional career in nonprofits and education; starting fresh out of college as a high school English teacher. Most recently I worked at the University of Arizona College of Humanities where my team helped people understand the value of a humanities degree. Connecting communities and organizations and finding ways to improve Tucson are all things near and dear to my heart. I have two beautiful boys and a four-legged furry daughter (dog) and I enjoy running, spinning, trying out new places to eat, and hanging out with my family and friends. 


Tucson Headquarters

  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.



Jennifer Hagele
Director of Operations

My family and I moved to Tucson in December 2016 and within the first few weeks heard of Ben's Bells.  I was impressed with the mission and am honored to be part of the organization and furthering that mission.  I have been blessed to be at home with my kids for the last several years and before that I was CFO for a mid-size distribution company.  I started my career in public accounting and have both my CPA (currently inactive) and a MBA.  I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, volunteering at my kids schools and activities, cooking and reading.  



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
Operations Assistant

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.




Liz Levine

Education Manager

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. 

  Leah Taylor
Lara Ruggles
Development Coordinator

I grew up in Arizona and earned my BA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Prescott College before spending a decade in Colorado leading arts programs for youth. After moving back to Tucson in 2016 I fell in love with my hometown in a way I never had before, and met my husband, an astronomer researching supermassive black holes. I am a writer, songwriter and musician with a background teaching music, writing grants, and touring the United States. In my work as a musician and performer, I speak and write a lot about social justice, being an ally, and treating everyone with kindness, respect, and positive regard. I am so excited that working with Ben’s Bells gives me the opportunity to use my background building community, telling stories, and engaging with audiences in service of the most meaningful mission I can think of. 


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. 






Eva Owen
Retail Assistant

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 the things I enjoy doing are playing board games with my friends and family, 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 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, traveling 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.


Megan Green
Studio Mananger

Growing up near Tucson has meant that I have been able to see the impact Ben’s Bells has had as it has grown. I feel so proud to join the team! I love working with volunteers to install murals throughout the community. I hold bachelors degrees in Psychology and Special Education from the University of Arizona. I also work as an American Sign Language Interpreter. I hope to meet you at an upcoming install!


Vivian MacKinnon
Studio Assistant

I was born and raised in Florida yet from an early age knew I would head "Out West" to roam the mountains, ride the range, and run the rivers. I graduated from FSU with a degree in Anthropology and Environmental Sciences and headed West the next day. I landed in Grand Teton National Park and spent the next decade doing all things I'd dreamed of, but oh those winters! I had the good fortune to meet my future husband there and we decided to find the perfect community to set down roots, Tucson, AZ. That was 20+ years ago and I've had a wonderful career working for local non-profits. After retiring I deeply missed working with like-minded folks bent on making the world a better place when lo, a position at Ben's Bells Project opened that was a perfect fit for my varied skill set!



  Leah Taylor
Kaytlin Sheets
Studio Assistant
A Tucson native with a deep love for the arts, I feel that Ben's Bells is the perfect place for me! Making art is such a passion of mine and the philosophy of Ben's Bells is so dear to my heart. In my spare time, I enjoy developing my art skills primarily with calligraphy, illustration, and printmaking. I also love Disney movies, playing volleyball, and hanging out with my family, friends, and my two shih tzu pups! I feel so lucky to be a part of Ben's Bells and it is inspiring to be able to contribute to the mission of spreading intentional kindness.

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

Robin Oden
Studio Manager

A painter and art teacher based in Scottsdale, AZ,  I graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Fine Arts, Painting. My background started with teaching art in middle and high schools, assisted living facilities, in juvenile detention centers and private lessons for working professionals. Before joining Ben’s Bells, I helped coordinate for an arts and preservation nonprofit. I could not think of a better mission than to spread kindness through works of art and relationships in the community.


Hillary Barner
Studio Assistant

I have called Arizona my home for more than 20 years and was inspired when I first learned about Ben's Bells as an undergrad at the University of Arizona.  Most recently I worked as a Child Life Assistant at Phoenix Children's Hospital and am eager to continue working in an environment that will foster creativity and involvement within the Phoenix community.  I feel so fortunate to be joining the Ben's Bells team and helping to spread intentional kindness! 




Anna Burtnett
University of Arizona
Family Studies & Human Development (Major) with a minor in Psychology
December 2019