I first crossed paths with Dana Wolfe Naimark through Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition, a non-profit organization working to preserve human services for Arizona citizens in need.
At the time, she seemed a bit of a policy wonk. Not so surprising, I suppose, given that she holds a Master in Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Today she’s president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, which serves as “an independent voice for Arizona children at the state capitol and in the community.” The organization “works to improve children’s health, education and security through information and action.”
We reconnected during an ASA theater department event at which various theater arts classes perform samples of their work together. We enjoyed a lovely conversation, and she made sure to give me her business card — which I promptly passed along to the school’s new theater and social justice teacher.
Naimark and her husband have two sons — and she’s been a busy stage mom, in the very best sense of the word, to both.
She describes Jared, now in his first year of study at Stanford, as the “band kid.” While attending Kyrene Middle School, Jared played alto sax — “auditioning for and getting into a small jazz ensemble.”
Nathan is an ASA sophomore who enjoys the technical side of theater. I’m told the ASA class in production studies is a fave.
Nathan got involved with theater at a very young age, recalls Naimark — who says he’s enjoyed many summer camps and school break offerings at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix through the years.
I recently saw Nathan perform in the ASA fall musical, a farcical comedy titled “Lucky Stiff,” and was incredibly impressed by the subtlety of his character’s sarcasm. Nathan’s comedic timing is spot on, and makes me suspect there’s a very dry humor and wonderful wit underneath it all.
Theater is like other extracurricular activities, reflects Dana Wolfe Naimark. “It teaches teamwork and leadership skills.” Kids who get involved share a common responsibility for the work they do together. “They work incredibly hard,” says Naimark — and it’s great to see them enjoy the finished product.
CAA is working to ensure that all children have health insurance, enter school ready to learn/succeed and have a place to call home — and that no child is raised in poverty/hunger or endures the ravages of abuse/neglect. They also advocate for supports that help struggling teens become responsible adults.
Naimark shares that current priorities include protecting Arizona children from abuse and neglect, improving the juvenile justice system so youth have a greater chance of being rehabilitated and preserving funding for the early education so critical to a child’s ongoing well-being and success.
A current legislative priority is working to defeat Proposition 302 on the November ballot. The measure, if passed, will redirect funds designated for early childhood programs (“First Things First“) to the state’s general fund.
Between working on issues related to the budget and taxes, children and immigration, children’s health, working families (and more), Naimark makes time to juggle carpooling, providing refreshments for cast and crew, and other stage mom duties.
“I never make costumes,” confesses Naimark, “because I’m not good at it.” But she happily helps to “strike” the set after productions featuring her son complete their run. Mostly, Naimark adds, she’s there for “moral support.”
Note: To learn more about Children’s Action Alliance, and ways you can get involved to make a difference for Arizona children, visit CAA online at www.azchildren.org.
Coming up: More stage moms and dads (to suggest someone for a future profile, contact Lynn Trimble at firstname.lastname@example.org).