Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego will speak to the National Council of Jewish Women of Arizona’s at their next meeting on Feb. 18 to discuss her agenda for women and families.
“I am looking forward to a robust conversation with the women in attendance and I suspect topics could vary from reproductive health, to civic engagement, and the upcoming election,” Gallego said. “In March, I will have completed one year in office as mayor and it is always exciting to look back at what we’ve been able to accomplish and also hear from different groups around what policies still need to be pursued.”
She added that she was excited to speak at the NCJWAZ’s meeting because the organization “has a strong history of making positive change for vulnerable populations in our state and the organization is personally relevant to me as a Jewish woman.”
Gallego hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she had her bat mitzvah. Gallego is Phoenix’s 61st mayor and was elected in a special election to succeeded the previous mayor, Greg Stanton, in March of last year. She received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to the election, Gallego served on Phoenix City Council from 2014 to 2018. She was the only female mayor of one of the 10 largest U.S. cities when she took office and at 38 she is the youngest mayor of one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S.
It was on the campaign trail that Gallego first met Civia Tamarkin, who would later become the president of the NCJWAZ in May 2019. Tamarkin praised Gallego’s commitment to women’s issues and added that the mayor understood the struggles that families endure.
“Nationally, NCJW has worked to improve lives and secure the rights of women, children and families,” Tamarkin said. “That is an agenda that involves a wide spectrum of issues and causes. Kate Gallego is an incredibly smart and effective mayor and she is someone who truly understands the intersectionality of all the issues that affect daily life.”
Gallego added that as a young single mom, she felt that she was in a position to bring forth policy from a new perspective. Shortly after her win, she worked to bring private, portable nursing stations to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport from the company Mamava. These pods give mothers a private area for nursing without the need for extended construction.
Tamarkin noted that some of the other issues Gallego focused on were environmental sustainability, education and reproductive rights. One of the subjects Tamarkin hopes the mayor will go into more detail about are the early developmental plans to build Arizona’s first comprehensive rape crisis center.
Although Arizona does have resources for sexual assault survivors, the state does not have a dedicated rape crisis center. Facilities declared as rape crisis centers have full staffs of specialists and care workers dedicated to supporting sexual assault survivors and addressing sexual trauma. Tamarkin said that the NCJWAZ has been in the forefront of helping develop the center with the mayor.
The development of the rape crisis center is a top priority for NCJWAZ, Tamarkin said. In addition to the mayor’s office, the social action organization is collaborating with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs along with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
“It’s an enigma that no rape crisis centers with a full comprehensive staff exist in the fifth largest city, let alone in the entire state of Arizona,” Tamarkin said.
“We know that victims of assault and rape need the most comprehensive care,” Gallego added. “A comprehensive rape crisis center would provide wrap around services such as social workers and counseling on top of the medical care they need at any time of the day, every day. While the center is still in the early planning stages, there is great support to see this effort through.”
The upcoming speaking engagement is one of many events where the NCJWAZ has featured local Arizonan politicians. Last October, the organization held a panel focused on gun violence in Arizona that featured several advocates for gun safety, including state Rep. Jennifer Longdon.
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, NCJWAZ hosted a panel called “How Are We Gonna Get It Done?” featuring House Minority Leader Charlene R. Fernandez, House Minority Whip Rep. Athena Salman, state Sen. Lela Alston and Senate Minority Whip Lisa Otondo. The four legislators discussed their agenda on issues such as gun violence, reproductive rights and public education.
For Tamarkin, the push for these events provides an invaluable service.
“We noticed a void in the public’s education and we feel that it is an important part of our agenda to create opportunities for everyone to learn,” Tamarkin said. “It may sound redundant, but we are committed to advocacy for women and families and that starts with educating who we can about issues specific to Arizona.” JN