Who We Are

Children’s Action Alliance (CAA) is an independent voice for Arizona children at the state capitol and in the community.

CAA logo and smiling child

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Our vision

CAA works toward a future in which all children have health insurance, no child is raised in poverty and hunger, every child enters school ready to learn and succeed, no child endures the ravages of abuse and neglect, every child has a place to call home, and struggling teens have the support they need to become responsible adults.

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Our mission

Through research, publications, media campaigns, and advocacy, CAA seeks to influence policies and decisions affecting the lives of Arizona children and their families on issues related to health, child abuse and neglect, early care and education, budget and taxes, juvenile justice, children and immigration, and working families.

Our Team

Siman Qaasim

Siman Qaasim

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President and CEO

Siman is an experienced management professional, with a background in developing and administering community health programs. Prior to arriving at CAA in 2016, Siman worked at Maricopa County Department of Public Health, where she was an administrator for the Office of School Health and Wellness initiatives. Siman’s career has taken her all over the world, from working in international policy analysis in Washington, D.C. to Nassau, Bahamas as a director of health and safety. Siman is an alumnus of Valley Leadership Class 35 and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

David Lujan

David Lujan

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Vice President for Economic Progress

David, a former member of the state Senate and House of Representatives, has worked in public policy in Arizona for 20 years. He served as an assistant attorney general advising the School Facilities Board, legal counsel for the Arizona senate, a staff attorney providing legal services to abused and neglected children, and, most recently, as a public policy director for Reading Partners, an organization that provides services to young children struggling in school. David also served as chief administrator for Arizona State University’s Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, a public charter school for preschool through 12th grade students. David earned his law degree at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

Damita Curry

Damita D. Curry

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Vice President, Development & Engagement

For over 15 years, Curry has managed fundraising and communications initiatives in her senior leadership roles for children and family organizations in Ohio and Arizona. In doing so, she was responsible for raising millions for the most vulnerable children in our communities. Damita has promoted affordable housing programs with President Clinton and created awareness for women’s health across the country. She has also received multiple communication awards for excellence in video, event, and collateral production from the Telly Awards, International Special Events Society, and American Marketing Association. Damita holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kent State University.

Jason Moore

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Director of Finance and Operations

Jason works to further the mission of Children’s Action Alliance by ensuring the organization and team has the resources, tools, and procedures to effectively build coalitions and change policies that improve the lives of children and families. Beginning as a history teacher in the Phoenix Union School District, Jason discovered his calling within the nonprofit sector and has been for helping underserved youth populations through interventions and advocacy, since 1999. Like many nonprofit professionals, Jason has experience in many roles and has advanced important work as a Direct Service Provider, Program Manager, Grant Writer, and Executive Director. Jason is a native Arizonan who grew up in the Valley and attended Northern Arizona University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in education.

Michelle Crow

Michelle Crow

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Southern Arizona Director

Michelle serves as the Southern Arizona Director of CAA. In that role, she facilitates community-based organizing efforts to elevate voices of child advocates from across Southern Arizonans who are seeking to improve the status of children’s health, education, and safety in Arizona. Michelle is a proud two-time alumnus from the University of Arizona having earned her Master’s in Public Administration in 2011 and her Bachelor’s in Political Science in 1994, with a minor in Spanish.

Zaida Dedolph

Zaida Dedolph

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Director of Health Policy

Zaida was thrilled to join the team at CAA in October 2019. Previously, she has worked to enact change at the individual, organizational, and systems levels. Her legislative experience has focused on addressing barriers to health equity at both the state and federal levels, including access to physical and behavioral health care, housing, food security, and financial wellbeing. Zaida serves as director of public policy for the Arizona Public Health Association. She graduated magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology with a concentration in bioethics and holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Arizona.

Molly Dunn

Molly Dunn

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Director of Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Policy

Deeply influenced by her own early experience as a foster child, Molly has dedicated her career to improving outcomes of system-involved youth. As a provider of direct legal services, Molly has represented hundreds of children and youth in dependency, juvenile justice, education, immigration, family law, and other proceedings. As a clinical instructor at Stanford and Loyola law schools, she has mentored and guided other advocates to serve system-involved youth. Prior to joining Children’s Action Alliance, Molly directed FosterEd Arizona. Molly holds a B.A. from Macalester College and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Taylor Flamini

Taylor Flamini

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Digital Strategist

Taylor is the Digital Strategist for Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, elevating the communications of our work to the communities we serve. His prior experience includes campaigns to increase Flagstaff’s minimum wage, raise awareness for sexual and domestic violence, and provide new lending opportunities for more equitable access to housing. Before joining Children’s Action Alliance, he was the Marketing Manager launching an experiential art exhibit in Arizona. Taylor graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Sustainability and Design Studies.

Karen McLaughlin

Karen McLaughlin

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Director of Budget and Tax Policy

Karen is the Director of Budget and Tax Policy for Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress. She provides leadership on the state budget and tax issues. Prior to joining CAA in 2005, Karen held various positions with the State of Arizona including analyst with the Governor’s Office and Strategic Planning and Budgeting and the Financial Services Administrator for the Arizona Department of Economic Security. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration from Arizona State University.

May Mgbolu

May Mgbolu

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Economic Policy Analyst

May is an Economic Policy Analyst at Children’s Action Alliance and Arizona Center for Economic Progress. May oversees the organization’s KIDS COUNT project and data center and performs research and policy analysis. Her research focuses on state fiscal policy, P-20 education, immigration, Native American policy, criminal justice, and the intersection of race and ethnicity in the economy. Prior to joining in 2017, May worked as an analyst in Colorado, where she conducted research on recidivism and supported the City and County of Denver’s Crime Prevention and Control Commission’s Transition to Jail model for returning citizens. May holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Arizona and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at Arizona State University.

Kelley Murphy

Kelley Murphy

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Director of Early Childhood Policy

Kelley has a wealth of health and early childhood policy and program experience. She is a Registered Nurse with clinical experience in a variety of health settings. Kelley spent 13 years in public health departments creating and implementing maternal child health and development programs and working to improve public health policy at the state and local level. Kelley previously served as the Policy Bureau Chief at the Arizona Division of Behavioral Health Services where she oversaw policy compliance and contracts for the Regional and Tribal Behavioral Health Authorities. Prior to that position, Kelley was the Senior Health Policy and Program Specialist for Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First. Kelley has a Bachelor of Nursing Science (BSN) and a Masters of Nursing Science (MSN) in Community Health Nursing from Indiana University.

Diane Sanders

Diane Sanders

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Administrative Assistant

Diane is an experienced administrator who supports development and donor relations activities at Children’s Action Alliance. After attending Arizona State University, Diane worked for several years in a range of Human Resources positions, primarily focusing on equal employment opportunity and employee relations. In 2010, Diane worked with teachers and other parents at her daughter’s school to create, fund, and operate a backpack food program for young students who experience weekend food insecurity.

Andrew Sugrue

Andrew M. Sugrue

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Economic Policy Analyst

Andrew advances the Arizona Center for Economic Progress’s policy agenda through analysis and advocacy, focusing on food security, housing stability, and strengthening the safety net. Andrew’s public service journey reflects a deep commitment to improving how government works for people. Before joining the AZ Center, he served as a Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, during which he worked with the Arizona Department of Child Safety to improve the effectiveness of supports for children and families. Andrew earned his Master in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and his bachelor’s degree in Government from Georgetown University.

Jolene Walley

Jolene Walley

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Executive Assistant

Jolene provides administrative support to our CEO, Board of Directors, and actively participates in the organization’s fundraising efforts. Jolene has a background in direct service of the disability community, shaping her world view and driving her efforts for a more equitable and inclusive Arizona. She graduated with honors from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s in Psychology.

Brianna Weeks

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Health Policy Specialist

Brianna serves as a Health Policy Specialist at CAA and works to facilitate the work of the Arizona Oral Health Coalition in promoting equitable access to dental care and oral health services through advocacy. Brianna’s passion for community service started in the U.S. Peace Corps as a youth development volunteer in Botswana, Southern Africa. Brianna worked on various initiatives aimed at increasing the capacities of youth, incarcerated individuals, and educators related to the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Brianna holds a Master of Arts Degree in Social Justice and Human Rights from Arizona State University and an undergraduate degree in Public Agency Service from Northern Arizona University with a minor in Criminal Justice.

Brint Milward

H. Brinton Milward, PhD, Chair

Professor, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona

Brint Milward is a professor at the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. He holds the Melody S. Robidoux Foundation Fund Chair in Collaborative Governance. He was Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse that was co-chaired by President George Herbert Walker Bush and President Bill Clinton. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and in 2010 won the NASPAA/ASPA Distinguished Research Award. He won the 2019 H. George Frederickson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Public Management Research Association.

Ayensa Milan

Ayensa I. Millan, JD, Vice-Chair

Managing Attorney, Cima Law Group, PC

Ayensa I. Millan has years of experience handling criminal and immigration matters and is the founder of CIMA Law Group, PC. Her commitment and dedication stem from her own personal experiences; knowing firsthand the struggles and needs of the immigrant community. Ayensa volunteers with various community organizations and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers. She also hosts two radio shows giving legal advice and information on criminal and immigration matters.

Joseph Garcia

Joseph Garcia, MA, Secretary

Chicanos Por La Causa

Joseph Garcia is a longtime communication and media professional, serving as a researcher, author, and presenter of public policy issues such as Arizona’s changing demographics, education, and the new electorate. He previously worked at ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy and The Arizona Republic. He teaches at ASU Cronkite School of Journalism.

Mark Kendall

Mark Kendall, JD, PhD, Treasurer

Vice President of Legal Services, CopperPoint Mutual Ins. Co.

Mark Kendall is Vice President, Legal Services, and oversees CopperPoint’s Legal Services Division. He has been with CopperPoint for over 20 years and is a member of the State Bar of Arizona and a certified specialist in workers’ compensation. Mark is past co-chair of the workers compensation section of the State Bar of Arizona and of the Arizona Workers Compensation Defense Counsel Association.

Amanda Aguirre

Amanda Aguirre

President and CEO, Regional Center For Border Health, Inc.

Amanda Aguirre is a well-respected former state representative and senator from Yuma, where she currently serves as president and CEO of the Regional Center for Border Health, Inc. She has been involved in health care and business administration for more than three decades, also committing much of her efforts to family health and children’s education.

Catherine Alonzo

Catherine Alonzo

CEO, Javelina

Catherine Alonzo is CEO and founding partner of Javelina, a branding and advocacy agency that is advancing equality and human dignity through social, political, and economic change. Javelina helps their clients realize their vision of change in the world through cutting edge strategies from the worlds of marketing and political campaigns. Catherine has been integral in growing Javelina to be one the Valley’s pre-eminent branding and advocacy agencies. She combines her political background (having served on the teams that raised the Arizona minimum wage in 2016 and elected Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell) with her passion for storytelling in the digital age. Catherine was named the Athena Young Professional Recipient by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 2016 and has been recognized for her business leadership by Arizona Business Magazine, Arizona Big Media, and the Phoenix Business Journal.

Ashley Anderson

Ashley M. Anderson

Sr. Human Resource Business Partner, Mountain Park Health Center

Ashley M. Anderson currently serves as a Senior Human Resource Business Partner at Mountain Park Health Center. She brings over 8 years of Human Resources experience working in various industries to the board. Her expertise spans across Talent Acquisition, Employee Relations, Training and Development, and more. She also consults with small and medium businesses on HR needs as they arise. She also sits on the Board of the National Association for African Americans in Human Resources, State of Arizona Chapter. Ashley holds an MBA with an emphasis in Management from American Intercontinental University.

Joanie Flatt

Joanie Flatt, JD

Owner and President, Flatt & Associates, Ltd

Joanie Flatt is owner and president of Flatt & Associates, Ltd, public relations and public affairs, a company she founded in 1981 in Mesa. Over the years, the firm has served a wide variety of clients in business, social services, and education. Joanie was named the 2019 Shelley Award Honoree for her innovative work in supporting public policy beneficial to the arts and culture in Arizona.

Jack Gibson

Jack Gibson

Director & General Manager, Arizona Public Media, University of Arizona

Jack Gibson’s career in public broadcasting spans over forty years and demonstrates the ideals of using media as a resource to educate, inform, and inspire audiences. Since 2006, Jack has served as the CEO of Arizona Public Media (AZPM), an editorially independent, nonprofit public service of the University of Arizona. AZPM provides three television program services, three radio services, and a variety of online program offerings at azpm.org, to audiences throughout Southern Arizona and beyond.

Nora Hannah

Nora Hannah

Nonprofit Strategy Advisor

Nora Hannah is a nonprofit organizational consultant and community leader with experience in building successful teams, creating consistent operating models, and achieving goals. Nora has an extensive background in civic engagement, nonprofit leadership, finance, and organizational alignment. She is active in the greater Phoenix community and received the Athena Award as Businesswoman of the Year from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

D'Angelo Johnson

D’Angelo Johnson

Managing, Vice President, Private Banking Officer, Bankers Trust

D’Angelo Johnson is Managing, VP, of Private Banking at Bankers Trust, with 18 years of financial services experience. He began his career as a Realtor and Financial Independent Contractor. As a licensed real estate agent, mortgage certified professional, life (including fixed investments), credit and disability insurance agent, he joined the bank in 2007 as a Consumer Services Representative and became a Relationship Banker in 2008. D’Angelo joined the bank’s Financial Intelligence team in 2014 as a Certified BSA/AML professional, where he helped protect the bank and its customers against illicit activity. He has served as a board member, Director of Finance, and written grants for non-profits in the Greater Des Moines area. He was promoted to his current position in 2017. Mentoring is important to D’Angelo Johnson, which is why he teaches financial literacy classes for young professionals, families, and organizations. But D’Angelo does not stop there; he brings his passion for helping others to his work as a Private Banker.

Erica Maxwell

Erica Maxwell

Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Arizona Department of Education

As the first Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Arizona Department of Education, Ms. Erica Maxwell has more than 25 years as a certified educator. In her education tenure, Maxwell has served as an administrator, adjunct faculty member at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and as a faculty associate at Arizona State University. Maxwell is also the co-founder of the annual Arizona Multicultural Education Conference and founder of Club READ (Reading Experiences Appreciating Diversity), which is a summer literacy initiative in Chandler. In addition to her educational equity consulting work, she hosted public forums for the Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, as well as for the Arizona Department of Education; Healing Racism Series, Mesa Community College Educators Academy, Scottsdale’s Cross-Cultural Communication Series and the Seventh Annual Future Educator’s Conference. In her free time, Erica enjoys going to the movies, reading, traveling, hiking, and exploring the amazing beauty unique to Arizona. She cherishes time with her children, friends, and relatives. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she resides in Chandler with her two teenage children.

Sherry McFadden

Sherry McFadden, MA

Director, State Farm Insurance Companies

Sherry McFadden has been with the State Farm Insurance Companies for 28 years. She has held several leadership roles in Claims, Underwriting, and Human Resources. Sherry holds several major insurance industry designations. She is the Vice-Chair of the Greater PHX Urban League; 2019 President of the Arizona Chapter of the CPCU Society; Board Member- Valley Leadership, Board Member, Arizona CTE Skills Commission; and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Rodrigo Olivares

Rodrigo Olivares

National Clinical Care Director, United Healthcare

Rodrigo Olivares is the Chief Behavioral Health Officer/ Vice President, Operations of the Clinical Redesign Team, CRT, a business unit focused on developing and deploying innovative direct care models for underserved populations. Rodrigo has close to 20 years of experience in child welfare, providing direct care, and leading large behavioral health organizations.

Kim Russell

Kim Russell

Executive Director, Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care

Kim Russell is of the Bitter Water People, born for the Tangle People. Her maternal grandmothers are from Chinle, Arizona and her paternal grandmothers are from Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. Ms. Russell is the Executive Director of the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care, an independent state agency whose mission is to advocate for increasing access to high-quality health care programs for all American Indians in Arizona. Kim has worked with Tribes, Tribal Organizations, the Indian Health Service, and Urban Indian Health Programs to advance their health agendas and priorities her entire career. Ms. Russell received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Master of Health Administration. Kim enjoys spending time with family and traveling.

Brett Rustand

Brett Rustand

Vice President, Crest Insurance Group, LLC

Brett Rustand is a retired Army captain from Tucson, having served in both Iraq and Korea in the early 2000s. He is vice president at Crest Insurance, helping businesses manage risk, with a focus on defense contractors and veteran-owned businesses. Brett is active in the veterans’ community, assisting those who served with benefits, housing, jobs, and other services.

Amy Shoptaugh

Dr. Amy Shoptaugh, MD

Owner, All About Kids Pediatrics

Dr. Amy Shoptaugh is the founder of All About Kids Pediatrics, which specializes in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. She provides routine care, as well as, specialty care for children with chronic diseases like asthma, ADHD, autism, and obesity. Recently she was named Medical Director of the Adverse Childhood Experience project through Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where she did her residency some 20 years ago.  She continues her endless work for the advocacy of children and their well-being. Her tried and true passions are travel, lifetime learning, and her therapy dogs; Hudson and Luce, whom she has trained, and often has in her pediatric clinic in Tempe.

Wendy Valenzuela

Wendy Valenzuela, MPA

Government Affairs Representative, APS

Wendy Valenzuela works for Arizona Public Service as the Government Affairs Representative for State & Local Affairs. Prior to her role at APS, Wendy served as Chief of Staff for a council office at the City of Phoenix for two years. She serves on the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Executive Leadership committee, the Maricopa Community College Foundation Board, and the Phoenix Theatre Board.