OUR TEAM

Sharon Kirsch, Director

Sharon Kirsch
Executive Director

Sharon began her career at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, DC, and later served as Communications and Community Outreach director for a national healthcare management company. With more than 25 years of teaching experience at public universities, she is an Associate Professor of English and Rhetorical Studies at ASU. The mother of two teens, Sharon believes that the people of Arizona, not out-of-state special interests, should make decisions about public education in Arizona.

Sharon Kirsch, Director
Beth Lewis, Director

Beth Lewis
Executive Director

Beth is a Rodel Exemplary teacher who has taught 5th and 6th grade in Arizona for 9 years. She began her career as a legal writer for Corpedia, a business ethics firm located here in Phoenix. She holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s in Education from ASU. She believes all of her students, as well as her 6- and 7-year old children, deserve a fully-funded education.

Beth Lewis, Director

Dawn Penich-Thacker
Communications Director

Dawn began her career as a U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer, serving in Strategic Communications at the Pentagon and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Linguistics, with which she teaches and publishes on Political Rhetoric and Professional Communication. She has volunteered on local, state and national campaigns since 2006.

Cathy Sigmon, Operations and Finance Director

Catherine Sigmon
Operations and Finance Director

Cathy is a 20-year resident of Arizona with a background in business, retail, product development, and project management. Her father was born in Bisbee and her great-grandfather was a foreman at the Copper Queen mine, so she has a deep attachment to the state. As a retail buyer and international sourcing manager, she managed over $50 million in annual sales. She has a BA from Boston University and an MBA from Norwich University. She finds spreadsheets relaxing and dreams in Excel. 

Cathy Sigmon, Operations and Finance Director
Melinda Merkel Iyer, Editorial Director

Melinda Merkel Iyer
Editorial Director

Melinda has developed and managed editorial content for 27 years. She has contributed to publications in a wide range of industries, from health care, journalism, advertising and entertainment to professional services and the faith sector. Melinda is a product of Arizona public schools from elementary through college, the parent of two school-aged children, and a fierce advocate for public education as the backbone of our democracy.

Melinda Merkel Iyer, Editorial Director
Kate Tice, Digital Director

Kate Tice
Digital Director

Kate, an educational veteran of nearly 20 years, resides in Arizona and has taught in the state for the majority of those years. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s from ASU, both in music education. Kate strongly believes that high-quality, public education should be well-funded and equally accessible to all Arizona students, regardless of race, culture or economic resource.

Kate Tice, Digital Director
Ylenia Aguilar, Outreach Director

Ylenia Aguilar
Outreach Director

Ylenia Aguilar is Vice President at Strategies 360 Cultura and currently serves as the Governing Board President in the Osborn School District. Previously, Ylenia was an Educational Organizer for UNIDOS Arizona. Ylenia is the proud parent of Brock who attends Phoenix Coding Academy and Felix who attends Clarendon Elementary. Ylenia is an advocate for quality education and believes that diversifying the curriculum with multicultural education allows for all students to be validated in their education.

Ylenia Aguilar, Outreach Director
Nadine Groenig, Tribal Outreach Consultant

Nadine Groenig
Tribal Outreach Consultant

Nadine Groenig is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. She grew up in Tucson, attended Cholla High School, and graduated from Arizona State University. During her 17 year tenure at the Arizona Department of Education, Nadine held several positions, including Program Specialist for Title I and Director of Indian Education. She served 22 tribes supporting over 90,000 Native American students, the majority of whom attend public schools. During this time, Nadine honed her outreach skills working with tribal governments, school districts, and community organizations throughout Arizona. She is the founder and CEO of the Southwestern Institute for the Education of Native Americans (SIENA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving students, parents, and educators of Native American students in Arizona and beyond.  

Nadine Groenig, Tribal Outreach Consultant
Raquel Mamani, Latino Outreach Coordinator

Raquel Mamani
Latino Outreach Coordinator

Born and raised in the beautiful border town of Nogales, Arizona, Raquel is the mother of 12 year old twins. She taught for 12 years in 3 different states. including Special Education for 10 years and her last 2 years in the classroom teaching in a dual language Spanish class. When her children started kindergarten she returned to volunteering on the PTO and working as a substitute teacher. Raquel got involved with Save Our Schools Arizona in 2017. She is passionate about sharing the information she has learned about the history of education funding in Arizona, especially to the Spanish speaking community. She believes strongly that a quality education is a necessity for a healthy democracy.

Raquel Mamani, Latino Outreach Coordinator
Kari Hull Northern Arizona Outreach Coordinator

Kari Hull
Northern Arizona Outreach Coordinator

As a lifelong resident of Prescott Arizona, Kari is dedicated to helping educate and empower people that live in small, rural communities on the importance of public education. She and both her daughters attended the public district schools in Prescott. She will be working throughout Northern Arizona introducing the Save Our Schools Network information roadshows to schools, parents, retirees and families. Her work is driven by the belief that all children deserve access to quality and equitable education opportunities. Public education allows each individual to reach their fullest potential and discover their passions in life!

Kari Hull Northern Arizona Outreach Coordinator
Santa Lucía Arias, Tucson Latino Outreach Coordinator

Santa Lucía Arias
Tucson Latino Outreach Coordinator

Santa was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona and holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management from the University of Arizona. She is extremely grateful for her public K-12 education with Nogales Unified School District and strives to help others find the opportunities they need.

Santa Lucía Arias, Tucson Latino Outreach Coordinator
Christina Vazquez

Christina Vazquez
Latino Social Media Specialist

Christina was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and is a proud product public school education. She has been part of the Mariachi community for the past 13 years and is attending the University of Arizona. She is focusing on Family Studies and Human Development with the goal of becoming a speech pathologist. Christina hopes to one day help students the way her teachers helped her.

Christina Vazquez
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