Allie Bones, the Jewish woman who is stepping into Arizona’s second most powerful job as the governor’s chief of staff, never thought that she would have to concern herself with the Arizona-Mexico border, school vouchers or the dangerously low level of the Colorado River — at least not as anything but a citizen of the state.

But since Jan. 2, when Gov. Katie Hobbs was sworn in, officially taking the reins from outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey, those are the types of things that have begun to fill her days, and often her nights and weekends.

As Hobbs’ right hand, Bones will manage and oversee policy development, coordinate with state agencies and work closely with the governor on accomplishing her agenda.

Arizona’s water concerns will be just one of several priorities, given that Hobbs “has made it very clear that she does not intend to continue to kick this can down the road — it’s been kicked as far as it can be and we need to address it,” Bones told Jewish News.

“We’ll be bringing all the players together to try to tackle this from a holistic perspective and a statewide perspective,” she said, surmising that Hobbs’ collaborative leadership style could be the thing to bring people together and find solutions.

Bones respects that style of leadership, especially as it’s one she shares, something she developed over her long career in social work. That’s where she started — a far cry from where she is now.

Bones’ first boots-on-the-ground job in social work was assisting victims of gender-based violence, which became her specialty. It wasn’t an issue she sought out, however; it was one that found her.

In her second year of a master’s program in social work at Arizona State University, she interned at the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (it would later change its name to Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence or AzCADV) and discovered a subject that had “clear-cut answers as to how to actually address the problem” but no political will to do it.

The issue also encapsulated many of the reasons she wanted to be a social worker: women’s and children’s wellbeing, their economic safety and security; the impact of gun violence on the community; poverty and health care.

“It’s all interwoven, interconnected and it just became my life’s work,” she said.

It’s also how she met Hobbs. Bones worked as the Coalition’s lobbyist while Hobbs was the director of government relations for Sojourner Center, Arizona’s largest domestic violence shelter.

“We really learned the legislature together starting in the 2001 session, advocating for more funding for domestic violence programs,” Bones said. Later, they were also part of Emerge, a program that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for political office.

The two developed a friendship and stayed in touch. But their career paths diverged.

Bones became AzCADV’s CEO. She was happy and assumed she would stay for the rest of her career.

This article originally appeared in Jewish News. To keep reading, please click here.

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