Meet Our Team
Save Our Schools is a statewide, grassroots, volunteer group of concerned Arizona citizens who wants our state to prioritize public education. Meet our founding team:
Beth Lewis, Chair: Beth is a Rodel Exemplary teacher who has taught in Arizona for 7 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. Her 4- and 5-year olds will proudly attend public school next year.
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.
Catherine Sigmon, Finance Manager: 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.
Melinda Merkel Iyer, Managing Editor: 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. When the Arizona State Legislature is in session, she writes the Iyer Report, a plain-language overview of the session’s notable bills, for concerned citizens statewide.
Sharon Kirsch, Training Director: Sharon began her career in Higher Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, served as Communications and Community Outreach director for a national healthcare management company, and is now an Associate Professor of English and Rhetorical Studies at Arizona State University. She is the mother of two school-aged children and is a strong advocate for public education.
Alison Porter, Campaign Manager: Alison has worked on a number of grassroots political campaigns, starting with the unprecedented, successful recall of Russell Pearce in 2011, and more recently helping to elect education-focused candidates Sean Bowie and Mitzi Epstein in Legislative District 18. She serves on the board of LD18 Democrats and works to assist other districts in adopting practices that have led to record-breaking civic engagement. Alison believes that grassroots organizing is the cornerstone of preserving our democracy for future generations, and that every child has a right to a strong public education.