Paula M. Jones is the President and founder of Zia. By day, she is an attorney who has focused for over twenty years on international estate law, opening her own practice in 2016 in Philadelphia and New York. Issues of poverty, especially food insecurity, have always concerned her and she began Zia with the simplest of ideas – bringing home-cooked meals to a family, recommended by the principal at a local elementary school. After partnership with several neighbors and organizations, Zia continues to grow quickly.
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Richard is Vice President of Zia. He owns and runs a manufacturing business in Trenton, New Jersey. He is a third generation Philadelphian and is pleased to join Zia in its pursuit of attacking food insecurity among its schoolchildren and their families. Richard’s understanding that education is paramount to success motivates him to support food efforts as the bedrock of an educational foundation. Richard also remains active in strategic planning at The George School, in Bucks County and has been on the Board of the Employers Association of New Jersey for almost fifteen years, currently serving as Chairperson.
Debbie is a retired nonprofit administrator having served as the CEO of The Arc of Atlantic County for nearly 30 years. The Arc provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Debbie always saw The Arc as a civil rights organization and her passion for assuring the inclusion of all people in the life of their community fueled organizational growth and helped The Arc earn a prestigious national accreditation. Debbie received her BA in psychology from the University of Kansas and her PhD in cognitive development (psychology) from Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University) in Nashville.
She and her husband, Marc Lowenstein, have lived in Philadelphia since December of 2017.
Cate has worked in international public health for 35 years, supporting programs and policies intended to prevent adolescent pregnancy and HIV in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Jamaica, and India and many other low and middle-income countries. She has worked for non-governmental organizations, and also worked for the US Agency for International Development for six years. Through her professional work in international development, Cate is committed to community-based programming, subscribing to the philosophy of building on community assets to solve problems. Originally from California, Cate most recently lived in the Washington DC area where she raised her two children, Robbie (30) and Leigh (27). She relocated to Philadelphia in June of 2019 and looks forward to enjoying what the city has to offer when life returns to “normal.”
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Elizabeth has over 10 years of experience working in nutrition in community and clinical settings. Elizabeth currently works as a pediatric registered dietitian at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) focusing on chronic disease treatment and prevention. She has supported efforts at CHOP to address food insecurity and teach cooking classes to patient families. She is passionate about promoting nutrition education and culinary literacy to support family and community health. Before moving to the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and dog, Elizabeth resided in the West Philadelphia area for several years. Elizabeth has a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics and completed her Dietetic Internship at the University of Delaware. She also has a Master’s Degree in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
As a macro-practice social worker, Lisa Varon has extensive experience in program development, community engagement, training, and professional development. Ms. Varon is currently the Project Manager for the Juvenile Assessment Center, a City of Philadelphia Initiative, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to reform the Juvenile Arrest process in the City. Ms. Varon also spent several years working within the local and statewide Juvenile Justice system when she served as the Director of the State Reintegration Program, and through her work with as the Latino Juvenile Justice Network Coordinator within the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative. Ms. Varon focuses her work in ways that support the connection of these various systems to best serve members of all communities from a holistic and strengths- based approach. Ms. Varon holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work and a certificate in Global Cultures from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.
Allison has over 10 years of experience in Corporate Social Impact and Philanthropy. With experience in the finance and telecommunications sectors, she is passionate about promoting equity in education and believes that access to high-quality meals is critical to a child's ability to learn. After moving to Philadelphia from New York City in late 2019, Allison currently resides in the Spring Garden neighborhood and is excited to put down roots in the local community.