staff

 

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
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.

 

 

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 Coordinator

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. 
 

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

 

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 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, 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 Coordinator

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.
  Leah Taylor
Savannah Wilcox
Studio Assistant
 
I am currently working on getting my degree in visual arts and design, and I am almost done! As a studio assistant, I love that I get to use my creativity and art skills at my job!  I feel so lucky to be able to work for such a wonderful organization with such an amazing staff.  Working with Ben's Bells allows me to share my passion for art with others, as well as connect me to our lovely community here in Tucson.  It is really nice working for an organization whose values and message align with my own.
 

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
Studio Staff

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!

 

 

 
 
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.

 

 

 

Leah Taylor

Robin Meinhart
Studio Assistant

While my childhood was spent in rural Pennsylvania, my family has always been drawn to the Southwest.  I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Wittenberg University and shortly after moved to Arizona.  Since then I have held a variety of positions with the City of Scottsdale primarily in communications and public involvement which provided a life-long interest in community building and civic engagement. Most recently I worked at my neighborhood elementary school as a volunteer, instructional aide, and administrative coordinator.  I love supporting an organization that helps open hearts and encourages dialogue.  It is an honor to be part of Ben's Bells and actively participate in ways to bring people together to celebrate the importance of being connected in kindness.

 

Interns

 

Stephanie Hardy
University of Arizona
Pre-Business Intended Management Information Systems, Minor in Global Business
May 2021

Alex Lozano
University of Arizona
Information Science and Technology
May 2019

McGovern Moore
Bennington College
Undecided
December 2021