Directors Circle

CO-FOUNDER AND AMBASSADOR

BILL AYRES

SENIOR CO-DIRECTOR OF U.S. PROGRAMS

SUZANNE BABB

SENIOR CO-DIRECTOR OF U.S. PROGRAMS

LORRIE CLEVENGER

Sr. Director of Finance & Administration

JOY CURTIN

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

DEBBIE DEPOALA

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Sharon Damelio

DIRECTOR, GLOBAL MOVEMENTS PROGRAM

Betty Fermin

Executive Director

Jenique Jones

Director of Communications

Hesire LAWTON

DIRECTOR, GLOBAL MOVEMENTS PROGRAM

KRISTEN WYMAN

CO-FOUNDER AND AMBASSADOR

BILL AYRES

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.

SENIOR CO-DIRECTOR OF U.S. PROGRAMS

SUZANNE BABB

In partnership with Senior Co-Director, Lorrie Clevenger, Suzanne develops and oversees the implementation of WhyHunger’s domestic strategies: Transforming the Emergency Food System, Black Food Sovereignty and Labor and Economic Justice. Suzanne helps to convene and support regional and national networks and alliances of emergency food organizations working to ensure the right to food by addressing the systemic inequities resulting in hunger and poverty. Additionally, Suzanne supports the growth of BIPOC led food sovereignty organizations, networks and alliances by mobilizing resources and providing technical support to aid in the creation of legislation, infrastructure and institutional structures grounded in equity and justice. 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.

SENIOR CO-DIRECTOR OF U.S. PROGRAMS

LORRIE CLEVENGER

Lorrie helps connect, build, and support the expansion and collaboration of US-based networks, alliances, and social movements organizing for and creating new legislation, infrastructure, and institutions grounded in equity and justice. In partnership with Senior Co-Director, Suzanne Babb, Lorrie develops and oversees WhyHunger’s US Program strategies:  Transforming the Emergency Food System, Black Food Sovereignty, and Labor and Economic Justice.  In addition to her role at WhyHunger, Lorrie is an organic vegetable farmer and owner at Rise & Root Farm, a women-owned, cooperative farm based in Chester, NY. Lorrie is a founding member of Farm School NYC and Black Urban Growers. She holds a BA and MEd from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Sr. Director of Finance & Administration

JOY CURTIN

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.

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

DEBBIE DEPOALA

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, narrative strategy 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 transformative power of storytelling and is a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working to support at risk youth in the foster care system.

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Sharon Damelio

Sharon oversees the development program at WhyHunger, working with a creative and collaborative team to host innovative events, nurture relationships with individual donors and artists, secure support from foundations and aligned corporations, lead a robust major gifts program, and engage and educate supporters through WhyHunger’s powerful impact. 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 people experiencing homelessness. Sharon believes that funders and philanthropists have a critical role to play in supporting transformative social change, and she has served as Board Treasurer of the EDGE Funders Alliance, a diverse network of progressive global funders, since 2020. Sharon holds a B.A. in English and Classics from Williams College and a Master of Divinity from Yale.

DIRECTOR, GLOBAL MOVEMENTS PROGRAM

Betty Fermin

Betty accompanies individual members and sectors of ally global social movements. She is responsible along with her fellow co-director for monitoring the political and economic context of regions around the world as part of the strategic planning and implementation of the overall programmatic goals. She supports social movements and organizations by mobilizing logistical, technical, and financial support, while building, strengthening, and nourishing connections between global social movements and U.S-based movements and organizations. She collaborates on fundraising, strategic messaging and communications campaigns that support WhyHunger’s work globally. 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 Editorial Manager of Womanly Magazine, a publication and platform that circulates accessible health information to women and non-binary people around the world through the lens of art. She’s passionate about books, travel, and social justice.

Executive Director

Jenique Jones

As WhyHunger’s Executive Director, Jenique guides the strategic direction of the organization and ensures its policies, culture and practices best fulfill WhyHunger’s mission to end hunger and ensure everyone’s basic human right to nutritious food.

With a diverse background working in government and nonprofits, spanning the New York State Senate, the NYC Department of Education, and City Harvest, Jenique has been steadfast in her mission to improve the lives of marginalized and underserved populations and make a difference in the world.

Jenique comes to WhyHunger after 14 years serving as an integral part of the leadership of City Harvest—one of the largest food rescue organizations. As the Vice President of Program Operations and Policy, she oversaw the distribution of tens of millions of pounds of food to soup kitchens, food pantries, and community food programs throughout New York City. She also worked tirelessly with partners to increase access to fresh produce and promotes nutritious and budget-conscious meal choices for residents.

With steadfast commitment to making a meaningful impact, Jenique has responded to numerous emergency and disaster situations. Extending her role at City Harvest and as a member of Feeding America, she spearheaded the distribution of over 500 million pounds of food in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also oversaw infrastructure projects to rebuild after Super Storm Sandy and supported food banks in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Recognized as a strategic partner and trusted advisor, Jenique excels in defining strategies that align with WhyHunger’s vision and drive programmatic growth. Her keen analysis of operations, key projects, and performance metrics guides critical decision-making and steers organizational transformation. Her leadership qualities shine through in her people-centered approach.

A native New Yorker, Jenique lives in Brooklyn, NY with her wife Kayla.

Director of Communications

Hesire LAWTON

Hesire 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, Hesire 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. Hesire 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, Hesire has aimed to empower others to live freely through creativity, love, compassion & abundance, in the face of social and economical injustices. In all Hesire 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, Hesire 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.

DIRECTOR, GLOBAL MOVEMENTS PROGRAM

KRISTEN WYMAN

In her position as Co-Director of Global Movements Program, Kristen supports and nourishes connections between International Movements and US-based groups by developing fundraising strategies, strategic messaging and communication campaigns, as well as monitoring global initiatives led by Indigenous peoples, especially social movements working towards food sovereignty and climate justice. Kristen is Co-Founder of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation, a grassroots collective of indigenous peoples restoring 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 led initiatives at local, state, and national levels. She holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Staff

Finance and Development Assistant

Tash Clarke

Development Writing Coordinator

Iracema Drew

VISUAL STORYTELLING SPECIALIST

Kristina Erskine

Grants Manager

João Fonseca

EVENTS & PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

REGINA GINYARD

Hotline Assistant

Jasmine Gowans

SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT

ANGELICA PERALTA

WhyHunger Hotline and Database Manager, Nourish Network for the Right to Food

Patricia Rojas

Finance and Development Assistant

Tash Clarke

Tash Clarke is WhyHunger’s Finance and Development Assistant. She supports the day-to-day operations of the finance and development teams including data entry, database management, grant documentation and administrative duties. Tash’s attention to detail and organizational skills help ensure smooth financial processes across the organization. Tash graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a bachelor’s degree and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Development Writing Coordinator

Iracema Drew

Iracema Drew is the Development Writing Coordinator at WhyHunger, where she supports the development team’s work with current and potential donors. With an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, she cares deeply about storytelling and enjoys sharing some of the work WhyHunger’s grassroots partners are doing with our donors. Iracema is from Teófilo Otoni, Brazil, as well as Cobleskill, NY, and outside of work, you would probably find her reading or eating something involving cheese.

VISUAL STORYTELLING SPECIALIST

Kristina Erskine

Kristina supports WhyHunger’s external communications strategies with a laser focus in the digital space, including social media, newsletters, blog management and more. Kristina is an artist, activist and advocate that has been moving, shaking, and shaping the NYC food justice landscape for over a decade. She is passionate about sharing the powerful lessons food teaches us about land, culture and history through art, storytelling, and hands on learning. From farming and grassroots organizing to policy advocacy work, her deep and nuanced understanding of challenging systems through creative strategy drives her focus on developing innovative and sustainable ways to connect folks to defining empowerment on their terms. When she isn’t working, she loves to spend her time creating art, music, and playing video games.

Grants Manager

João Fonseca

João is the Grants Coordinator at WhyHunger, which entails coordinating the management and monitoring of domestic and international grants across all programs, and serving as the primary contact for all grantees and communicate regularly with grantees. João 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.

EVENTS & PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

REGINA GINYARD

Regina manages WhyHunger’s fundraising, programmatic and community-focused events. Over the past ten years, Regina has worked to address the inequalities around access to healthy food in marginalized communities, as a community organizer, urban farmer, community engagement strategist, capacity-builder, resource connector and conference planner. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Regina worked to improve health outcomes, advance urban farming and developed partnerships as the Project Manager for the Farms at NYCHA initiative, the Director of Community Engagement & Marketing at Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, and the Senior Associate for the Healthy Bodega Initiative at The Food Trust. Regina is one of the founding members of La Finca Del Sur, the first women-of-color led urban farm located in the South Bronx, and a founding member of the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners National Conference (BUGS.)

Hotline Assistant

Jasmine Gowans

Jasmine responds to hotline calls and voicemails from those who are in need of food assistance. She also helps update the database and find food resources to assist those in need. For years she worked with The Department of Education and Scholastic. Her hobbies are playing video games, drawing, collecting figurines & posters, decorating and watching old tv shows and cartoons.

SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT

ANGELICA PERALTA

As the social media assistant for WhyHunger, Angelica supports the narratives that resonate across social media platforms highlighting our impactful work across the world. Born and raised in New York City as a first-generation Dominican American, she brings a unique perspective to her role with her educational journey culminated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and entrepreneurship from the University of Miami. Angelica’s professional path is marked by a rich tapestry of experiences, spanning from trucking to nonprofit work, and multimedia digital agencies both domestically and internationally. Her mission in every role she undertakes is driven by a deep-seated passion to make a meaningful difference in the world. She believes strongly in the power of community, faith, and utilizing one’s talents to foster positive change. This New York native’s vibrant, trailblazing spirit continues to inspire and propel our mission forward!

WhyHunger Hotline and Database Manager, Nourish Network for the Right to Food

Patricia Rojas

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.

Board of Directors

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Diane Blagman

Senior Director of Governmental Affairs, Greenberg Traurig

Mark Blake

Independent Strategic Advisor

JoJo Brim – VICE CHAIR

SVP of Artist & Fan Experience, WEA/Warner Music Group

TOM CHAPIN

Musician/Songwriter/Performer/President, Sundance Music, Inc

MARC CIMINO

Chief Operating Officer, Universal Music Publishing Group

Robin Lewis – SECRETARY

Environmental Justice Advocate

Rachel Lipschutz

Loretta Muñoz – MEMBER-AT-LARGE

Assistant Vice President, Membership, ASCAP

Melissa Newhart

Music Brand Partnerships Executive, United Talent Agency

Liz Norris

Partner, Activist Artists Management

Dr. Meisha Porter

President & CEO, The Bronx Community Foundation

Cindy Secunda – Chair

Alysia Steinmann – TREASURER

Partner at EY

Pearl Thompson

Chef

Vanessa Trinidad

Associate Director, Brand Development, Freixenet Mionetto USA

Jimmy Zankel

Executive Director, The Zankel Scala Family Foundation

ADVISORY BOARD

Frank Brunckhorst

Chair, Boar’s Head Provisions Company, Frank Brunckhorst Co., LLC

Stephen Chapin

Musician/Lyricist/Performer

Hon. Thomas Downey

Chairman, Downey McGrath Group; former member US House of Representatives (D NY)

Michael Francesa

Radio Talk Show Host/Television Commentator, WFAN/Fox Sports 1

Paul Kurland

Partner, Hennessey & Bienstock LLP

Hon. Patrick Leahy

Member, U.S. Senate (D VT)

Jane Finn Levine

Co-Founder and Co-Director, Kids Can Make a Difference (KIDS)

Brian McMorrow

Senior Project Manager, Abonmarche

Hon. Jerrold Nadler

Member U.S. House of Representatives (D NY)

Jan Poppendieck

Author & Professor, Hunter College

Karen Washington

Farmer/Community Organizer/Activist/Co-Owner Rise&Root Farm