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Executive Management Team

noreen springstead

Noreen Springstead

Executive Director

A 23 year veteran of WhyHunger, Noreen brings a combination of marketing, fundraising, program management, operations and executive experience to shape the vision and leadership of the organization. With two decades of steadfast commitment to the mission of WhyHunger, Noreen has directed program services to develop, support and replicate innovative grassroots solutions and established the fundraising and marketing department, guiding its growth over the years. She has led the cultivation of high-level corporate partnerships and built long-term relationships with notable artists, management and record labels resulting in millions of dollars in support to WhyHunger and its community based partners. Noreen is a graduate of Rutgers University with a BA in Political Science and completed an Executive Education Certification Program given by the Harvard Kennedy School. She has served on the board of numerous community and civic organizations.

bill ayres

Bill Ayres

Co-founder and Ambassador

Bill co-founded WhyHunger in 1975 with the late singer Harry Chapin. Since its founding, Bill has developed and implemented meaningful and innovative hunger and poverty programs such as the National Hunger Hotline, the National Hunger Clearinghouse, the Grassroots Action Network, Artists Against Hunger and Poverty, Hungerthon© and the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Awards. He has led local initiatives to promote ideas and policies that have made significant impacts upon the communities that they serve, including the creation of the New York Hunger Hotline in New York City and the Center for Food Action in New Jersey. Under Bill's direction, WhyHunger has served as a founding member of the National Association of Hunger Organizations (NAHO) and the National Jobs for All Coalition. He is also a member of the board of advisors of Long Island Cares, Long Island's food bank. Bill has been a broadcaster on commercial radio and TV for the past 40 years and currently hosts two weekly Sunday night radio shows on WPLJ 95.5 FM in New York. Through his work in communications, Bill has developed extensive contacts in the world of media. He is the co-author with Pete Fornatale of the book All You Need is Love (Simon & Schuster) and writes and records music. Bill is married to Life Coach Jeannine Ayres. They have two daughters Michelle and Suzanne and one granddaughter Jaida Lynn.

alison cohen

Alison Meares Cohen

Senior Director of Programs

Alison facilitates the development and stewardship of WhyHunger's organizational vision, strategy and programmatic implementation through its Grassroots Action Network, National Hunger Hotline, Food Security Learning Center and Global Movements programs. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Alison served as the Northern Program Manager for Heifer International from 2001-2008. She was responsible for developing partnerships throughout the northeast and Midwest regions with local communities and like-minded organizations to build sustainable food systems where limited-resource families, communities and beginner farmers – both rural and urban – have access to healthy food and income-earning opportunities. Prior to transferring to New York, Alison served as the director of Heifer International's first urban agriculture program based in Chicago, IL for five years. Alison has a master's degree in Sociology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an undergraduate degree in French and English literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For the past ten years, she has worked with farmers and communities in West Africa, Latin America, Canada and the United States. Alison lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters with whom she started the PS 29 Food and Farming Initiative that hosts a school vegetable garden and works to improve the quality of food served in the cafeteria.

Debbie Grunbaum

Debbie Grunbaum


Senior Director of Communications

Debbie develops and implements organizational strategies to increase WhyHunger’s visibility and advance its programmatic initiatives and impact. Overseeing the organization's marketing, public relations, creative direction and brand strategy, Debbie brings expertise in media relations, organizational messaging and event planning to WhyHunger. Prior to joining WhyHunger in spring 2011, Debbie served as the Director of Communications and Development for the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation, a community based human service non-profit, where she shaped strategic communications and fundraising initiatives for the organization. Previously, Debbie implemented publicity campaigns for dozens of for-profit and non-profit clients at G.S. Schwartz & Company, a mid-sized Manhattan based public relations firm. She has worked with top-tier media outlets, planned large scale fundraising events and secured millions in private funds. Debbie is a strong believer in the power of storytelling and is a mentor in the Big Brother's Big Sister's Program and a New York Cares volunteer.