EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT TEAM
Executive Director, WhyHunger
Noreen Springstead serves as executive director of WhyHunger—a 45 year-old global organization working in over 30 countries to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food, by providing critical resources to support grassroots movements and fuel community solutions rooted in social, environmental, racial and economic justice. Noreen started with the organization in 1992 as a front desk assistant and quickly worked up the ranks. Each day, she fights in solidarity with the millions of people around the world facing food insecurity. Noreen brings a unique and visionary approach to solving the hunger crisis, seeking to implement systemic change to tackle the root cause of hunger and build social justice for all.
Noreen’s vision guides WhyHunger’s programmatic, philanthropic and marketing strategies. Under Noreen’s direction, WhyHunger has established successful partnerships with diverse companies such as Hard Rock International, Entercom New York, SiriusXM and ASCAP among others. As part of WhyHunger’s signature program Artists Against Hunger & Poverty, Noreen has built long-term relationships with notable artists including Bruce Springsteen, Yoko Ono Lennon, Carlos Santana, their management and record labels, resulting in millions of dollars of support for WhyHunger and its the community-based partners.
Noreen is a graduate of Rutgers University and has a BA in Political Science. A lifelong leader and learner, Noreen completed the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education Course Leadership, Organizing and Action and a course at the University of Notre Dame Non-Profit Business Excellence Continuing Education Program.
Noreen is frequently called upon as a thought leader to discuss the hunger crisis and was named one of the most powerful female changemakers by SHAPE magazine in 2019. Noreen uses her platform to challenge the dominate narrative about hunger and its solutions and has been featured in Fast Company, WCBS Newsradio 880 and The Record among other outlets.
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 and 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. He has led local initiatives to promote ideas and policies that have made significant impacts upon the communities that they serve. 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 Meares Cohen
Senior Director of Programs
For the past twenty-five years, Alison has worked with grassroots-led organizations in rural and urban farming communities in the United States and throughout the world. Since 2009, she has been stewarding WhyHunger’s programmatic strategies which center on providing support to grassroots organizations in the U.S. and social movements globally who are working toward addressing the root causes of hunger and the deep inequities of poverty at the intersection of agriculture and food systems, racism, health and climate change. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Alison worked with Heifer International organizing and accompanying farming communities throughout the Northeast and Midwest regions to build and advocate for sustainable food systems. Alison was born and raised in the rural mountainous region of Western North Carolina but has been living, gardening and riding bikes in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two daughters for the past 16 years. Her studies as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina were in English literature and French. As a graduate student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University her studies centered on gender, farming systems and popular education. Alison’s work has led her to believe that grassroots-led social movements are the most effective means for dismantling inequitable systems and erecting new socially just ones.
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.
Senior Director of Finance
As Sr. Director of Finance & Administration, Joy oversees the development and implementation of WhyHunger’s financial management strategy, operations and human resource policies with an emphasis on ensuring sound fiscal management and operational efficiency rooted in social justice. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Joy was Deputy Chief Financial Officer at Media Development Investment Fund, a mission-driven investment fund for independent news businesses in countries with a history of media oppression. She also served as Chief Financial Officer and Sr. Vice President for Administration at the National Academy Foundation which aimed to sustain a national network of career academies in public high schools across the U.S. Joy holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration- Public Accounting (Summa Cum Laude) from Baruch College where she was valedictorian, and a National Diploma in Accounting (Honors) from the London Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Society of Arts. She is married and has two children.
Director, Global Movements Program
Saulo works to advance initiatives of food sovereignty and agroecology by identifying resources and network opportunities that will strengthen the work of grassroots organizations and social movements. Originally from Brazil, Saulo brings years of experience working with urban and rural families in the United States and abroad. Prior to WhyHunger, he worked as the Latin America Program Coordinator for Grassroots International, and served as consultant to international funders, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He has a bachelors of science degree in Agricultural Engineering from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco state, Brazil and a M.A. in International Development and Social Change from Clark University. Saulo is a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and has served as board member and advisor for many organizations, including The Food Project, New England Grassroots Environmental Fund and Justice at Work.
Melanie provides support and capacity to the development team though grant writing, foundation research, donor communications, event planning and database management. As the Development Coordinator, Melanie operates in the space where programming and development meet, bridging the analytical, data driven world with the relationship-focused, grassroots movement. Using a strengths-based approach, she finds a synthesis among many opinions and perspectives; collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to showcase social impact and write compelling grant requests. Before joining the team at WhyHunger, Melanie worked on the frontlines to develop youth empowerment agriculture programs, secure funding for community gardens and farmers’ markets, and strengthen community-led movements for affordable housing and food justice. With a keen eye for detail and a creative knack, Melanie wishes to use her talents to dismantle our rigid food system and bolster the movement to end hunger and poverty. In line with her Florida roots, Melanie is most happy when she’s barefoot in the sunshine; surfing, gardening, and practicing yoga whenever she gets the chance. Melanie holds both a BSW and a M.S from Florida State University and is a published writer.
Director of US Programs, Nourish Network for the Right to Food
Suzanne works in collaboration with partners to transform the emergency food system from one rooted in charity to one rooted in justice and to build solidarity between emergency food providers and food justice organizations. Through participation in local and national level strategic partnerships, Suzanne helps to create space and facilitate dialogue around the systemic inequities that cause hunger and poverty. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada Suzanne has many years of experience working on community development projects within the English-speaking Black community of Montreal on issues of education, employment and health. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Suzanne was the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Get Healthy Harlem website at the Harlem Health Promotion Center. Suzanne is a member of Black Urban Growers, an organization of volunteers committed to building community support for urban and rural growers and nurturing collective Black leadership, and an urban farmer at La Finca del Sur Urban Farm, a Black and Latina women led farm, in the South Bronx. She holds a BS from Concordia University and an MPH from Columbia University.
Director of US Programs, Grassroots Action Network
Lorrie works to build, connect and support the growth and collaboration of US-based networks and alliances committed to ending systemic hunger and poverty by directly addressing issues of economic and racial injustices and mobilizing local and regional communities to participate in re-imagining and creating legislation, infrastructure, and institutional structures grounded in equity and justice for all. In addition to her role at WhyHunger, Lorrie is an organic vegetable farmer and owner at Rise & Root Farm, a cooperatively owned farm based in Chester, NY. Lorrie is a founding advisory board member of Farm School NYC and member of Black Urban Growers, an organization of volunteers committed to building community support for urban and rural growers and nurturing collective Black leadership. She holds a BA and MEd from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Director of Development
Sharon directs the development program at WhyHunger, working with a talented team to host innovative events, lead a robust major gifts program and secure support from foundations, individuals and corporations. Sharon is committed to finding new and creative ways to expand WhyHunger’s capacity to support even more of the groundbreaking grassroots work that is transforming the U.S. and the world. Before joining the team at WhyHunger, Sharon worked as the Development Director at Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, an Atlanta nonprofit that provides job training and supportive services to those who are homeless and advocates for policy changes that improve the lives of those living in poverty. Previously, Sharon worked as Assistant Web Editor at Fine Cooking magazine and she now blogs about food at ThreeManyCooks.com. Sharon recently co-authored the cookbook and memoir Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters, and Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith, and Family. Sharon holds a B.A. in English and Classics from Williams College and a Master of Divinity from Yale.
Betty plays a critical role in the overall functioning and effectiveness of the Programs team. She works across all program departments to support a unified strategic direction for programmatic activities, initiatives, internal communications, grants management, and expenditures. Betty manages and monitors domestic and international grants, coordinates the content development and distribution of the Nourishing Change newsletter, and assists in the promotion and outreach of the Find Food database and WhyHunger Hotline. She is continually learning and deepening her knowledge on issues related to the work. Betty was born in Harlem, grew up in Rhode Island, and came back to NYC to study at Pace University, where she received her B.B.A. In her spare time, she’s also the Literary Editor of Womanly Magazine, a publication and platform that circulates updated health information to women around the world through the lens of art. She’s passionate about books, travel, and social justice.
WhyHunger Hotline and Database Manager, Nourish Network for the Right to Food
Patricia responds to telephone calls from individuals and groups in need of emergency food resources and connects them with local emergency feeding program. Additionally, she works with callers interested in donating food, seeking volunteer opportunities or looking for assistance in starting their own emergency feeding program. Patricia helps develop resources to assist grassroots groups in providing better services to their clients with an emphasis on hunger and poverty issues. She also recruits and trains all of the Nourish Interns and volunteers throughout the year. Previously, Patricia worked for YAI where she trained adults with developmental disabilities at volunteer opportunities. She has a B.A. from Barnard College and a M.S from The New School. She also is a volunteer guide at the Central Park Zoo.
Director of Artists Against Hunger & Poverty
Hillary develops unique ways for artists, the music community and celebrities to support the movement to end hunger and poverty. Since starting at WhyHunger in 2008, Hillary has increased exposure and raised significant funds for the organization and its grassroots partners by opening up the program to new artists including moe., Papa Roach, Brandi Carlile, Tom Morello and more. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Hillary spent 15 years in the music industry managing bands, promoting concerts and living out her life’s dream of producing music at venues big and small. Hillary graduated from SUNY Fredonia with a degree in Communications/Media Management and a minor in Music. She is an avid Yankees fan and a mom to her own rock star, Alexa.
Joao is the Operations Associate at WhyHunger, which entails assisting the day to day operations of the finance department, providing support and logistics to events, and general office management. Joao became motivated to work in the advocacy realm while attaining his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Pace University and more specifically in food justice while interning for a Portuguese government entity focused on food security/safety procedures. The thesis for his Master’s Degree in International Relations centered on the importance of food safety for a developing state. He was born and raised in Portugal and moved to the United States at age 14. He enjoys reading, collecting records and playing an absurd amount of videogames.
Colin works directly under WhyHunger’s Senior Director of Communications and supports the organization’s external relations, internal messaging and cause-marketing partnerships. Before joining WhyHunger, Colin provided branding and consultation services to various growing and established businesses, entrepreneurs, local political administrations & community based organizations and visual and recording artists over the span of a 10+-year career under his multimedia brand, Law10 Creative Haus. Colin also founded an independent, monthly digital arts and culture publication, FunktheFormula, where he managed a team of global contributors and the creative direction of the branding and marketing across various outlets; from social media to producing and hosting arts based workshops and youth-focused programing in local and underserved communities, Colin has aimed to empower others to live freely through creativity, love, compassion & abundance, in the face of social and economical injustices. In all Colin has done over the years to creatively work towards social justice, empowerment and equity, he has found WhyHunger to serve as a space to greatly expand on this passion as a growing advocate for food justice while managing the organization’s social media platforms, newsletter, and other channels. As a born and raised Brooklynite, Colin holds a B.F.A. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, and is also an award winning songwriter, recording and spoken word artist and performer.
MANAGER, U.S. PROGRAMS
Rae Gomes works with the U.S. Programs team to provide technical and logistical support for organizing shared learning spaces from conferences to learning exchanges within the US and between our US and international partners. She manages production of all editorial content for U.S. Programs and provides additional support to WhyHunger’s Hunger Hotline and Find Food Database. Before coming to WhyHunger, Rae worked at NYC DOHMH Center for Health Equity where she supported food access initiatives started by community members in Brooklyn. She became focused on food justice issues when she understood that the difficulty accessing fresh produce for her family in her neighborhood was because of a profit-based food distribution system that is rooted in systemic inequity and racism. Rae works professionally and personally to dismantle this system and reimagine a new one. She is a proud founding member of the Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative and continues to support food sovereignty work locally. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from Goucher College.
MANAGER, GLOBAL MOVEMENTS PROGRAM
Kristen supports and nourishes connections between Global Movements and US-based groups by developing strategic messaging and communication campaign strategies, as well as monitoring global initiatives led by indigenous peoples, especially social movements working towards food sovereignty, agroecology and climate justice. Kristen is Co-Founder of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation, a grassroots collective of indigenous women restoring the spiritual foundation of indigenous livelihoods through sustainable food and economic systems in the Northeast, United States. Prior to joining our team, Kristen worked as consultant and program manager to several youth and Native American organizations at local, state and national levels. She holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.