Honorary Chair: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Event Co-Chairs: Linda K. May and Dr. Eve Shapiro

Join us for the 10th Anniversary Champions for Children & Families Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, April 9, 2019! This event recognizes members of our community who have had a positive impact on the lives of children and families in greater Tucson. It also helps raise critical funds that enables Child & Family Resources to continue providing much-needed programs for youth and families across Arizona.

Your support of this event helps us build strong communities where all children can reach their full potential. Call (520) 321-3773 to learn how you can support Champions, or download the sponsor packet here.

Why Support Champions?

Arizona ranks 46th out of 50 states in overall child well-being. This grim reality must change! Children in Arizona need strong communities to allow them to reach their full potential. Your support will help make the difference by providing the programs and resources children need to have the best start in life—from early childhood development and quality childcare, to healthy parenting, kindergarten readiness and beyond.

About Champions

Champions for Children & Families is our annual premiere fundraiser to raise awareness and support for the programs and outreach needed in our communities. This special event brings together advocates who are passionate about helping children in our community, and honors leaders who have made a significant impact on the well-being of children and families through our Champions for Children & Families Awards.

Who We Are

At Child & Family Resources, we build strong communities where children can reach their full potential. Since 1970, we have worked to ensure that children and families across Arizona have the tools and support they need to succeed through proven prevention, intervention, and education strategies, serving more than 28,000 children and families, annually.



This award recognizes a person with a long history of diligently championing the issues of children and families.

Mary Jan Bancroft, Ph.D.
Nominated by Paula Cullison

Mary Jan Bancroft earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education, a M.S. degree in Special Education, and a Ph.D. in Experiential Education.   She taught for many years at the elementary and college levels.  Before moving to Tucson in 1997, she was a professor in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno and taught courses in special education, assessment and elementary education.

After settling in Tucson, Mary Jan answered a listing to volunteer to read to four-year-olds at a downtown childcare center.  She found that the classroom had very few age-appropriate, quality books.  Mary Jan soon discovered that countless childcare centers in low-economic areas of Tucson were in the same situation.  That’s when she decided to use her own skills and resources to help other children by creating Make Way for Books.

 Make Way for Books is an early literacy nonprofit that provides proven programs, services, and resources to 30,000 young children, parents, and educators throughout southern Arizona each year. The mission is to give all children the chance to read and succeed. Make Way for Books programs are designed to ensure that children discover the joy of books, develop critical emergent literacy and language skills, and start school ready. The focus of Make Way for Books is to reach young children in a critical stage of life from birth to 5 years to build a foundation for all future learning. 

 Mary Jan served as unpaid executive director of Make Way for Books for 15 years.  She continues to serve on the Board of Directors and to help out with special events and behind the scenes whenever possible.

 Recently, Mary Jan volunteered to serve as the Chair of the Portfolio Review Committee for Social Venture Partners for three years.  The mission of this organization is to assist non-profits in building capacity to more effectively serve their clients.

 Currently, Mary Jan volunteers with Gabriel’s Angels, a therapy animal visitation program.  She and her 90 pound St. Bernard mix, Nelson, visit a Head Start classroom regularly to help children develop qualities such as empathy, affiliation, self-concept, etc.  Nelson and Mary Jan also make weekly visits to children in Pediatrics at Tucson Medical Center.

Gabe Zimmerman Emerging Champion Award

These individuals have emerged as up and coming community champions for children and families. They are inspirational, compassionate, and innovative in their advocacy for making our community a better place for children and families.

Lauren Deakin
Nominated by Barbara LaWall

Lauren, a prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s Office, has worked throughout her career to make the lives of countless children better. As a member of the Special Victims Unit, Lauren prosecutes the most serious case of child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and the online crimes against children. She works with child victims and their families on a daily basis, spending countless hours gaining their trust - helping them find their voice in the face of their fears. “Lauren has shown tremendous skill and dedication in holding child predators accountable for their crimes and in providing children with the opportunity to find justice and empowerment in the criminal justice process. Lauren is committed to seeking justice for victims and is truly an emerging champion for child crime victims and their families.”

Tai Summers
Nominated by Barbara LaWall

Tai Summers is extremely honored to receive the Gabe Zimmerman Emerging Champion Award and to share it with her colleague, Lauren Deakin.

Tai joined the Pima County Attorney’s Office in 2006 as a Legal Assistance. After 18 months of working in other units in the office, Tai joined the Special Victims Unit, where she worked for over six years. As a Special Victims Legal Assistant, Tai and her Trial Team prosecuted the most serious cases of child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and online crimes against children. She worked with child victims and their families on a daily basis, spending countless hours gaining their trust, guiding them through the court process and helping prepare them to testify.

In August 2014, Tai followed her dream and began law school at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law with the express purpose of becoming a Special Victims prosecutor. While a law student, Tai served as a Law Clerk with the Pima County Attorney’s Office. For her law school substantial paper, Tai authored Teaching an Old Court New Tricks: Courthouse Dogs to Facilitate the Testimony of Child Victims, which assisted the Pima County Attorney’s Office with the legal means to ensure that child crime victims had a courthouse service dog available to them during the litigation process.

After graduating law school in May 2017, Tai became a Deputy County Attorney. After a year as a misdemeanor prosecutor, Tai re-joined the Special Victims Bureau, where she now prosecutes domestic violence, child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and online crimes against children.

2019 Champion for Children & Families Sponsors