Our Team

Save Our Schools Arizona Network focuses on issues that impact the quality of education provided to children in Arizona’s public schools. 

By tracking and interpreting changes, improvements, and outcomes related to public education in Arizona, we provide information, data and analysis to help people across the state understand the crisis facing Arizona’s public schools. 

Explore our website and read about efforts to stop the nationwide push toward privatization of public education and our continued fight against profit-driven education reform. You will find in-depth analysis of Arizona’s school funding challenges and efforts to improve student achievement. 

Our Vision

We are a non-partisan, community-based organization supporting strong 
public schools for a strong Arizona. 
 

  • Research public education issues affecting our state in an objective, fact-based manner
  • Engage Arizonans around the topic of public education by sharing research and initiating dialogues around the state
  • Collaborate with other local and national education and community groups, business partners, and other leaders to build support for public education in Arizona

** Find out about our Roadshow HERE! **

SOSAZ Network Staff Bios

Sharon Kirsch, Director

Sharon began her career in Higher Education Programs 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 20 years of experience at public universities, she teaches and publishes on women’s literature, poetics, and public discourse. She is the mother of two school-aged children and believes that the people of Arizona, not out-of-state interests, should make decisions about the shape of public education in our state.

Beth Lewis, 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.

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, Operations and Finance 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.

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.

Kate Tice, Digital Director

Kate has developed many websites, including the SOSAZ Network website, as well as social media video content. Kate is proud to be a public school teacher with 15 years experience, 10 of which have taken place in Arizona. She holds a BMus from the University of Massachusetts and an MM from ASU, both in music education. Kate strongly believes that high-quality, public education should be well-funded and accessible to all Arizona students, regardless of ethnicity or economic resource.

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