Jeannette Maré is Founder and Executive Director of the Ben’s Bell Project. She shares the FCS vision of the importance of strengthening families, communities and the marketplace, and does so by inspiring, educating, and motivating people to act with intentional kindness.
Jeannette studied linguistics and American Sign Language at the University of Arizona and then went to Gallaudet University in Washington, DC to be immersed in Deaf Culture and American Sign Language. After earning her Masters in Linguistics, Jeannette returned to Tucson and worked as a sign language interpreter and as faculty at the U of A teaching linguistics and interpreting.
Life for Jeannette and her family changed drastically in 2002 when her youngest son, Ben, suddenly died. Ben’s Bells was born out of the need to heal and show gratitude for the kindness that surrounded Jeannette and her family during this tragic time. Ben’s Bells was a way to honor his young life and show intentional kindness throughout communities.
As a result of Jeanette’s efforts, the Ben’s Bells Kind Campus Program began in 2007 in four Tucson schools and has been adopted by more than 500 schools across the US and around the world, reaching hundreds of thousands of children. Working with the Norton School for the past 6 years, Jeanette has been a close community partner with the Community Research, Evaluation and Development (CRED) team to evaluate the program. In the attempt to measure outcomes of the program, undergraduate students have been engaged in important community-based research and evaluation while gaining valuable experience.
In 2012, an annual Science of Kindness Conference, hosted by Norton School, was started and has been sponsored by the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families (FMI). An outgrowth of this effort has been a Kindness in Action Speaker Series, also co-sponsored by FMI, which brings in local and national-caliber speakers several times a year to keep the kindness conversation going.
Jeannette Maré has supported the Norton School mission, directly through her work with students, staff, and faculty, and indirectly through the many boards and activities she engages in that strengthens Tucson as a community.