ruth collins.

founder, president.

While talking to an elementary school teacher one day, I learned that there are children in Mesa who come to school on Monday mornings hungry, having had little to no food to eat on the weekend. As I researched the problem I found it to be a huge problem across all of Arizona. I organized Arizona Brainfood with the mission of giving a bag of food to those children who would otherwise go without on the weekends. I have four children of my own, and a very large “Mother Bear” personality. If there is a child in need, I will do what I can to help. I am proud to be a native Mesa resident, and am happy to give back to the community that I love.
Beth McDonald Woman of the Year 2012
Mesa Baseline Rotary Club Citizen of the Year 2013
Arizona Interfaith Movement “Golden Rule Award” Recipient

Ruth Collins


beth coons.

vice president.

Beth understands that children are our community’s most important asset. They need to be nurtured and educated so that Mesa can continue to be a great place to live. That is why she volunteers with AzBrainfood. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Mesa City Planning and Zoning Board; board member of Arizona Family Council and has served as the Immediate Past Chair of First Things First Regional Council. Other prior community involvement includes service as Board Chair of the Mesa United Way and President and Member of the Mesa School Board. A mother of eight and grandmother of twenty-three, Beth and husband Chad have made their home in Mesa the past 35 years.

kaci okland.

warehouse director.

ingrid ahlstrom, cpa.


Ingrid was born in El Paso, Texas and raised in Texas and New Mexico. As a daughter of educators, Ingrid has long understood the importance of hard work and a good education. Ingrid speaks fluent Spanish and received a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and a Masters Degree in Tax from Brigham Young University. She began her career with KPMG in Phoenix and earned her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Ingrid now enjoys being a stay-at-
home mom as she and her husband Marc raise their three young children. AzBrainfood opened her eyes to the growing needs of children in Arizona schools. Ingrid is excited to serve in this organization that helps children attain their educational goals by providing nutritious meals.

karen zaharis.

director of operations.

Karen is a mother of 6 children, all of whom have either graduated from or are currently enrolled in the Mesa Public School system. Her love of children and teaching led her to earn her degree from BYU in secondary education mathematics instruction. Teaching opened her eyes to the non-academic struggles many students battle daily. A product of the Mesa Public Schools system herself, Karen is passionate about helping each student maximize his/her educational opportunities.

melissa farnsworth.

social media specialist.

kristine kempton.

school liaison.

dr. michael cowan.

executive board member.

As the superintendent of Arizona’s largest school district, Mike Cowan understands the importance of proper nutrition for each of Mesa Public Schools’ 65,000 students. Healthy meals are foundational to the learning success of students. For that reason, he is honored to support the work of AzBrainfood. As a board member he represents the school system and provides assistance in the important work underway. He also serves the community as the chairman of the Mesa United Way, a board member of the Mesa Foundation for Educational Excellence and a member of the Boy Scouts of America advisory board along with service on several other local, state and national advisory boards. A father of four boys, Mike and his wife, Amy, are delighted to call Mesa home.

tony ham.

executive board member.

broc hiatt.

executive board member.
Cardon Hiatt Companies

tim and kristen cowley.

executive board members.

mayor john lewis.

executive board member.

denny and nichole barney.

executive board members.

Janeen Wright.

volunteer coordinator.