For assistance accessing food programs, please call the Hunger Hotline at (866)-348-6479 (English) or 877-842-6273 (Spanish).

Para información sobre programas de alimentos llame a la Línea Nacional Contra el Hambre al 877-8-hambre.​

Meet Our Staff

Nicole Aber, Director of Communications, Development and Digital Outreach
(Pronouns - she/her)


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Nicole manages both the communications and development departments of Hunger Free America. Nicole is responsible for communicating with the media, both locally and nationally, about Hunger Free America's work, advocacy initiatives, and events. She manages Hunger Free America's social media outlets and works to engage our online community by keeping them apprised of current issues in the anti-hunger space. In addition to her work on communications, Nicole manages individual donations and helps facilitate corporate partnerships.

Prior to working in the nonprofit industry, Nicole worked as a recipe developer, food writer, and personal chef. She studied English literature at the University of Michigan.

Nicole's favorite food is pasta with pesto sauce. "Homemade pesto with fresh basil is one of my favorite things to make in the summer."

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 Ana Assadourian, Senior Benefits and Training Coordinator

Ana started working for Hunger Free NYC in December 2018 as a Benefits Access Specialist providing SNAP Assistance to members of the Queens community and advocating for clients whose cases were misbudgeted, pending or denied. Ana was recently promoted to the Start by Asking Program Manager position. Prior to Hunger Free NYC, Ana worked at Food Bank for NYC screening clients and helping them apply for SNAP.

Educating clients about SNAP and assisting them in the process of applying and recertifying for SNAP is work that Ana finds very rewarding. One of the greatest satisfactions she takes home is knowing that she's helping families put nutritious food on their table everyday.

Ana was born and raised in rural Dominican Republic in the town of San Jose de las Matas. She came to NYC at the age of 17 and completed her GED two years later. Ana then attended LaGuardia Community College and completed her Associate Degree in Science and continued her education at Queens College.

"One of my favorite foods is mango. It reminds me of my childhood in Dominican Republic. As a child, when I was hungry, I used to go to the field to pick mangos and eat them right on the spot."

Filomena Acevedo, Director of Organizing
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Filomena coordinates the East Harlem and the Bronx Food Action Boards (FABs), which mobilizes low-income community members concerned with hunger and other anti-poverty initiatives in their communities.

She worked for over ten years at the Morrisania Health Center with the City of New York. She also worked at the Department of Refugee and Services, as well as the Immigration and Naturalization Services. She has lived and worked in New Orleans, where she was selected as a Representative of the Children’s Health Insurance for Low Income Children (C.H.I.P) to address the State Legislature in Baton Rouge, which resulted in the children being awarded with health insurance. Filomena studied Sociology at Herbert Lehman College in the Bronx.

Filomena's favorite foods are fresh fruits such as strawberries and blueberries, as she fights everyday for low-income individuals to be able to gain access to affordable, nutritious produce.

Joel Berg, CEO

(Pronouns - he/his)

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Joel Berg is a nationally recognized leader and media spokesman in the fields of domestic hunger, food security, obesity, poverty, food-related economic development, national service, and volunteerism.  He is CEO of Hunger Free America. He is also the author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America? , the definitive and most well-reviewed book on American hunger of the last decade. Seven Stories Press just publish his second book, "America We Need to Talk: a Self Help Book for the Nation." Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison called the book important and entertaining.

Since 2001, Berg has led Hunger Free America, formerly known as the New York City Coalition Against Hunger throughout its many successes. Joel has grown the nonprofit into a multi-million-dollar, respected national champion for Americans struggling to obtain nutritious food. Hunger Free America is building a nonpartisan grassroots movement coast-to-coast to enact the economic policies and programs needed to finally solve the problem of domestic hunger. Operating on the philosophy, “Ending hunger lifts us all,” Joel and his team advocate for systemic change across the country, seeking higher wages, more living wage jobs, and a stronger nutrition safety net. The group also manages AmeriCorps*VISTA national service projects in 29 states and the USDA National Hunger Hotline, which provides callers the tools they need to obtain government and private food resources close to home. Joel is recognized as a powerful voice arguing for skilled volunteerism and has led his organization to establish a nationwide volunteer matching website, allowing people to best use their special skills like accounting, web design, or fundraising to help local soup kitchens and food pantries beyond packing cans or serving food.

Prior to his work with the Hunger Free America, Berg served for eight years in the Clinton Administration in senior executive service positions at USDA. For two years, he acted as USDA Coordinator of Community Food Security, a new position in which he created and implemented the first-ever federal initiative to better enable faith-based and other nonprofit groups to fight hunger, bolster food security, and help low-income Americans move out of poverty.

In addition, Berg worked as USDA Coordinator of Food Recovery and Gleaning for two years, working with community groups to increase the amount of food recovered, gleaned, and distributed to hungry Americans. Also while at USDA, he served as Director of National Service, Director of Public Liaison, and as acting Director of Public Affairs and Press Secretary. From 1989 to 1993, he served as a policy analyst for the Progressive Policy Institute and as a domestic policy staff member for then President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition team.

Berg has been published widely on the topics of hunger, national and community service, and grassroots community partnerships. These include recent papers on what President Obama can do to improve hunger metrics in the United States and other papers on childhood hunger and poverty, obesity, and practical solutions to end hunger when he was a Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress.  He has also published papers on creating food jobs and other topics for the Progressive Policy Institute.

A native of Rockland County, NY, and a graduate of Columbia University, Berg now resides in Brooklyn. He is the past winner of the US Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for Superior Service (one of the Department’s highest honors) and the Congressional Hunger Center’s Mickey Leland National Hunger Fighter Award. Joel also services on the Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Nutrition Advisory Committee, and on the New York State Hunger and Food Policy Task Force.

Joel's desert island food: dumplings! "Properly prepared and cooked, Chinese pan-fried dumplings (known on the U.S. west coast as pot stickers) are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the perfect combination of textures. To eat them properly, you need to cover them with a mix of soy sauce, chili paste, and vinegar, which turns them from ultra-delightful to ultra-even more delightful." -Joel Berg

Erika Hernandez Burke, Strategic Volunteer Initiatives Associate

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Erika Hernandez Burke is a graduate of CUNY Hunter College with a focus on Gender Studies and Human Rights. She has resided in New York City for most of her life. Erika has prior experience working with the non-profit organizations NGO Commission on the Status of Women as an intern and with Hollaback! as a fellow striving to address gender equity. Erika is passionate about learning about other cultures, has traveled extensively throughout South America, and lived abroad in Chile prior to attending Hunter College. She is a proud Irish-Puerto Rican and devoted pet mom.

Erika's favorite food is rice and beans with cheese and olives. This dish reminds her of home and family.  

Charlene Caceres, National Hunger Clearinghouse and Hotline Associate
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Charlene joined the Hunger Free America team in December 2014 and servies as the Communications Manager for the USDA National Hunger Hotline. Charlene is responsible for collecting and disseminating information about federal nutrition programs, emergency food providers, and public and private programs that improve the lives of low-income individuals and families contacting the Hotline. Prior to joining the NYCCAH team, Charlene was an Office Manager at Premier Health Care (YAI), a nonprofit organization that specializes in medical services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Charlene graduated from Kaplan University with a degree in Human Services Administration and is currently a member of Toast Masters International Club. Charlene’s goal is to utilize her leadership skills and abilities in order to provide services to individuals and families in need.

Charlene's favorite food are strawberries. "Because they are great low-calorie snack and they are super yummy."

Sheila Ramos-Corrales, National Hunger Clearinghouse and Hotline Associate
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Sheila works on Hunger Free America’s Nutritional Outreach Education Project (NOEP) and visits farmer's markets, Bronx supermarkets, and community based organizations to prescreen clients for food stamp eligibility. She also assists clients with electronic food stamp applications and re-certifications as part of HFA's Paperless Office System (POS) and Recertification Improvement Project (RIP).

Sheila attended Bronx Community College and Lehman College for Business Administration. She has worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit sector, providing social services to the East Harlem community. Prior to working at NYCCAH, she worked at the Yorkville Common Pantry doing Single Stop services and administrative / secretarial duties for the Executive Director and Board of Directors.

Sheila's favorite food? Rice and beans with spaghetti squash and edamame instead of steak. "I come to work everyday as a Benefits Specialist. I prescreen people for SNAP benefits; and help them with the process to maintain their benefits. By helping clients along the way, they are able to afford to purchase and enjoy their favorite foods."

Lily Dosina, WIC Program Manager
(646) 930-4526

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 Lily and her team work on a daily basis to raise awareness about WIC for elegible low-income women, infants, and children. She started our WIC Help NY Hunger Solutions pilot program which was focused on Staten Island (Richmond County). Due to the success of this intervention and the support from different organizations, we were able to expand our services to the rest of NYC boroughs. 

Lily was born and raised in Cuba and obtained her B.A. in Media and Communications at the Higher Institute of Arts, University of the Arts in Cuba. She worked at the National Museum of Fine Arts and at the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, which is one of the few NGOs on the island and was created with the mission of protecting and promoting Cuban artists domestically and internationally. In the U.S., she previously worked at Optimize Today’s Wellness Therapy Solutions, Inc., Hunger Free Vermont, and at the WIC Program in New Jersey.

Lily's favorite food is a combination of mashed potatoes, seasoned ground beef, and salad. “It feels like a perfect balance of flavors to me”.

Vicky Dumbuya, Director, National AmeriCorps VISTA Program
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Vicky manages Hunger Free America's National AmeriCorps VISTA Program. In this capacity, she oversees the daily operations of the program, including building new and sustaining existing partnerships, grants management, administrative oversight, and special projects as well as supervising the project staff and VISTA Leaders.   

Prior to this, Vicky served as the National Service Program Coordinator for our AmeriCorps State Program. In this capacity, she was responsible for managing the program, which placed 26 full- and part-time members at soup kitchens, food pantries, and anti-poverty organizations throughout New York City. She joined HFA in the fall of 2006. 

A graduate of Rutgers University, Vicky previously served as an AmeriCorps National Direct Team and Service Leader at Hands on Atlanta, a non-profit that coordinates tens of thousands of volunteers with service opportunities in over 400 organizations and schools throughout Atlanta, Georgia. 

Vicky's favorite food: Baked Ziti!

Denise Fernandez, Benefits Access Director
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Denise is a member of Hunger Free America's Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) staff. NOEP offers free and confidential services to connect hungry New Yorkers with nutrition assistance programs, especially SNAP. In an effort to reach eligible NYC residents, Denise travels throughout the city to educate the diverse communities about ways to apply for and receive SNAP.

Denise graduated from Skidmore College with a major in Government and a minor in International Affairs. She worked in the private sector for 3 years before joining Hunger Free America's Benefits Access team.

Denise's favorite food: Chocolate!  "Because it's so easy to share with others…or not :)"

Angelica Gibson, Data Director

(Pronouns - she/her)

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In addition to overseeing the production and distribution of our NYC Neighborhood Guides to Food & Assistance, Angelica assists in the expansion of our national database of food programs. She also conducts research for our Annual NYC and National Hunger Reports, which analyze USDA data on food insecurity at a more localized level for populations such as children, employed adults, and seniors.

Angelica graduated from McGill University in Montreal, majoring in Global Food Security with a specialization in International Agriculture and a minor in Economics. While at McGill, she spent a summer in Rome conducting research on the food security status of migrants and analyzed the role of hunger as a driving force for migration.

Angelica’s favorite food is mushroom risotto! "When you find a place that knows how to make it really well, it’s absolutely heavenly."

Rafeuris Grullon, NOEP Coordinator​

(646) 865-0769


Rafeuris Grullon graduated from the University at Albany with a major in sociology and a minor in public health. After graduating, Rafeuris became an AmeriCorps member at a nonprofit that also combats the issue of hunger. 

Rafeuris' favorite food: A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. "It is simple, filling, and a great quick bite to get!"

Lauren Johnston, Communications Associate


Lauren recently joined the Communications team at HFA to spread awareness about our services, particularly our Hunger Free NYC programs. Her goal through this work is to connect as many people as possible to food assistance in NYC, largely through social media campaigns and connecting with local media. Prior to joining HFA, Lauren studied English and Spanish at UC Davis, graduating with a BA in 2018. She spent two years living in Madrid as a student and then as a teacher. She is originally from California.

Lauren’s favorite food is pomegranates.

Amy Maltz, NYC Civics Core Member (Strategic Partnerships Coordinator)



Amy Maltz recently joined Hunger Free America as an NYC Civic Corps member. She is originally from Salem, Oregon and is a graduate of the University of San Diego where she studied Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies and Theology. Following her graduation, she entered a full-time volunteer corps where she worked on direct service initiatives for the homeless community in El Paso, Texas as well as on advocacy for gender justice with a faith-based NGO at the United Nations. Amy believes that anti-hunger work is essential to all forms of justice work and is incredibly excited to join the HFA community. In her spare time, she loves to cook and read. 

My favorite food is Thai food!

Paola Martinez, Benefits Access Specialist

(646) 627-7630


Paola recently joined Hunger Free NYC as a Benefits Access Specialist. Previously, Paola worked with the Food Bank For New York City in a similar capacity where she helped eligible households apply for SNAP benefits. Paola’s highest satisfaction is knowing that the people she assists will have daily nutritious meals on their table.

Paola was born and raised in the Dominican Republic in a town called San Jose De Las Matas and immigrated to the United States at the age of 11. She loves nature, especially the beautiful rivers in the Dominican Republic.

“My favorite food is mango. It has a good source of nutritional value. As a kid, I used to take bags and fill them with mangoes to take it to the river.”

Eva Minkin, Benefits Access Specialist

(332) 600-5415

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Eva has been working with Hunger Free NYC on and off for 4 years. She is very proud to be part of a team that works tirelessly to assist New Yorkers in need. Eva enjoys meeting new people and solving challenges. She was raised in Brooklyn so she is very familiar with what makes our city so amazing. She received her Bachelor's Degree at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and is in the process of completing her Master's in Education at Hunter College. Eva speaks English, Russian, and is learning Spanish.

Eva loves all food but Thai food is her favorite!

Tamara Mizhquiri, Director for the National Hunger Clearinghouse and Hotline

Tamara is from Cuenca, Ecuador and grew up in New York. She graduated from NYU, where she majored in French and minored in Anthropology and Media, Culture, and Communications. She became interested in non-profit and advocacy work when she studied Anthropology and learned about the roots of poverty and the multidimensional effects it can have on a person’s life.  

While in college, Tamara volunteered for Health Leads — a healthcare organization that focuses on addressing social determinants of health. Tamara worked as an Advocate helping families at Woodhull Medical Center connect to resources such as childcare, SNAP, education, and legal assistance. After graduating, Tamara became a Program Fellow with Health Leads, continuing to work directly with families in addition to providing additional program support and supervising volunteers. Tamara went on to work as a Research Associate for the NYU School of Medicine in the Department of Population Health. Hearing people’s stories and learning about their needs made her want to return to work advocating, and that lead her here to HFA in 2017. 

Some of Tamara’s interests include cooking, running, and volunteering with NY Cares.

Tamara's favorite food: Her mom’s shrimp ceviche. 

Joyce Parr, Director of Finance and Administration 

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Joyce currently serves Hunger Free America as Director of Finance and Administration. In her role, she is responsible for finance and accounting, internal audit, HR, and general administration functions.

Joyce has more than 30 plus years in the nonprofit sector. Prior to working for Hunger Free America, Joyce worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem as the controller. Since retiring from there in 2004, she has continued to work as a part time accountant/consultant for various nonprofits. She is a graduate of Bernard Baruch College with a dual degree in accounting and business management.

Although Joyce does not have a “food advocacy/public service” background, she brings a commitment to serve “the least of these.” She has always been active in her community, church, and church pantry. Influenced by her “call” to serve she returned to school. She subsequently earned a Certificate in Christian Ministry, a Master in Divinity, and a Master in Pastoral Care and Counseling from New York Theological Seminary. She is a licensed minister and chaplain.

Two of the many other “hats” that Joyce wears is that of a dancer and professional storyteller.

Joyce's favorite food? Classic pepperoni pizza!

 Gira Peguero, Benefits Access Specialist



Gira is a Lehman College Graduate whose major centered on the nutrition aspect of health. Her main career focus is helping those who are food insecure be able to access nutritious food. After college, Gira spent a lot of her time involved in other nonprofit organizations such as Food Bank for New York City and New York Common Pantry. Prior to working with Hunger Free NYC, Gira was a Nutrition Instructor for New York Common Pantry.  

Gira's favorite food is sushi. "I love sushi because it's so fresh and delicious!"

Andrea Quintana, WIC Benefits Specialist
(646) 453-7064

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Andrea is part of Hunger Free NYC as a WIC Benefits Specialist. Her previous work was with GrowNYC that focused on bringing awareness to local produce, recycling food waste and advocating for expanding environmental efforts programs in diverse communities. She became interested in advocacy while volunteering in a farm in Hawaii that focuses their work in connecting lower income Hawaiian families to their indigenous crops and assisting them with fresh produce. Andrea was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador until the age of 10 years old and then moved to Florida. 

Andrea’s interests are hiking, running, yoga and enjoying the beach.

Andrea's favorite food is Peruvian Fish Ceviche. “Fish, Lime, Salt and Onions so refreshing and delicious!”

Maria Remache, Benefits Access Specialist
(646) 836 9177

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Maria was born and raised in Ecuador. Since coming to the US, she attended Borough of Manhattan Community College and has worked for 11 years for different nonprofit organizations, including Sunnyside Community Services and Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Most of her experience has involved helping eligible NYC residents access the SNAP (food stamps) program. Maria joined Hunger Free America in December 2013 and provides SNAP pre-screening and application assistance from several host locations in Queens.

Maria's Favorite Food: Grapefruit!

Caridad Robles, WIC Benefits Specialist
(646) 948-1315

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Caridad is committed to empowering women, children, and disenfranchised communities, locating opportunities and mobilizing capacity to create positive avenues where possible.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Caridad comes to Hunger Free America with an interdisciplinary background and a passion for social change. Previously, she served as a financial inclusion coach for the Office of the Vice President of the Dominican Republic and was a Gender and Risk Technical Assistant at the United Nations Development Programme among other assignments. 

Caridad holds a BArch from Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo and an MSc in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship from the University of Portsmouth. She enjoys discovering new places and usually on the weekend takes long hikes around the city.

Her favorite food is anything that is nutritious and tasty. "I love food in general, but having a wholesome meal from different cuisines from around the world makes my day. And that is easy to do in New York!"

Ana Salazar, WIC Help Specialist
(646) 970-5699

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Ana recently joined Hunger Free NYC as a WIC Help Specialist and works on a daily basis to raise awareness about WIC for elegible low-income women, infants, and children. She is a DREAMer from Mexico City. Previously, Ana worked as a breastfeeding peer counselor for the Staten Island University Hospital WIC program where she helped many moms achieve their goals and overcome challenges. Ana is passionate helping her community.

Ana's favorite food is green enchiladas, as she enjoys spicy food. 

Ariamna Suarez, Senior Benefits and Training Coordinator
(646) 863-7122

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Ariamna is a part of the Benefits Access Team at Hunger Free NYC. She educates eligible residents about SNAP benefits and assists them during the process to apply or re-certify. Ariamna was born and raised in Cuba where she obtained her B.A. in Economics at The University of Havana. Prior to joining Hunger Free NYC, she was worked in assisting people apply for health insurance.

Ariamna’s favorite food is ground beef (picadillo), rice, and banana. "Because it is simple, and I’m a terrible cook ;-) Olives and raisins help a lot."

Emilio Tavarez, MSW, Director of Policy, Research, and Advocacy
(Pronouns - he/his)

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Emilio is a DREAMer from Dominican Republic, has a background in psychology from The City College of New York (CCNY), and a master's degree in social work from Lehman College. He spent the last eight years of his career in the non-profit sector supporting a number of marginalized communities: LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrant families, senior citizens, formerly incarcerated individuals, and those dealing with mental illness and substance abuse. He has interned with the Henry Street Settlement, The LGBT Center, ARC XVI Fort Washington, and, most recently, the Constituent Services Department at the NYC Public Advocate's Office. After working at Part of the Solution (POTS) for the last five years as a case manager, he is eager to use his education in policy advocacy to take his clients' experiences directly to elected officials, push for the policies necessary to lift people out of poverty, and put an end to hunger in America.

Additionally, recognizing the impact that music has had on his life, he wants to use the arts to promote social justice through creative means: he continues his advocacy on matters of poverty and discrimination through his association with The New York City Gay Men's Chorus (NYCGMC), VOCAL-NY, and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). He has also written a number of short stories and has co-written the pilot for Edge People, a new TV drama exploring the true meaning of the American Dream through the eyes of recent immigrants to the United States during our current political climate. 

One of Emilio's favorite dishes is lasagna, as it was a treat his mother made rarely throughout his childhood. He generally loves salty and crunchy food, as well as anything that includes cheese.

Christina Tu, Chinese Benefits Specialist


Christina joined the Hunger Free NYC team in November 2018 and serves clients in Chinatown and Brooklyn by providing SNAP pre-screenings and assistance with the application and recertification process. Christina graduated from the College of Staten Island with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art. Outside of work, Christina enjoys painting, drawing, and visiting museums. She speaks four languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hakka.

Christina's favorite food is salad.

Jim Wengler, Director of Programs

(Pronouns - he/his)

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Jim has been with Hunger Free America since 2003 and currently serves as the Director of Programs. He oversees Hunger Free America's Benefits Access program, AmeriCorps VISTA program, operations of the USDA National Hunger Hotline, and the Data Department. Jim is a graduate of Rutgers University and has 20 years of experience in the social services field, previously working with agencies serving those affected by HIV/AIDS. He also spent a year in Nicaragua as a volunteer for an organization that served impoverished and orphaned children.

Jim's Favorite Food: Bananas and Peanut Butter! Because it's fast, healthy, and a great source of protein.

Stephanie Wu Winter, Director of Strategic Volunteer Initiatives
(Pronouns - she/her)

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Stephanie works to strengthen HFA’s national volunteer program, Ending Hunger through Citizen Service, which seeks to move volunteers beyond food drives and holiday service in order to engage in more focused and effective activities to end hunger.

Stephanie brings to the role a lifetime of experience as a volunteer herself, giving her a distinct outlook. She was inspired by the HFA mission to go beyond her own volunteerism efforts and join the anti-hunger movement in a more meaningful and long-term way.

Prior to joining HFA, Stephanie spent more than a dozen years in the financial services sector, working in project management, communications, and client services. Stephanie studied public relations at Syracuse University.

A native New Yorker, who has lived in all five boroughs if you count summers at Yankee Stadium, Stephanie currently resides on Staten Island with her husband, son & cat. She enjoys traveling and experiencing culture through food.

Stephanie’s favorite food is noodles. From hand-pulled noodles to pasta, spätzle to noodle kugel, macaroni and cheese to spiralized veggie noodles, all are equally delicious.