Dina Shacknai, Psy.D., is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Maxie's House, a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the physical safety and emotional health of children in shared-custody families. The organization was created in honor of her six-year-old son, Maxfield Aaron "Maxie" Shacknai, after his tragic death on July 16, 2011.
Dr. Shacknai earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from San Francisco State University and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University in Phoenix. A native of San Francisco, she worked in Medical and Computer Systems sales prior to her move to the Phoenix area thirteen years ago.
While volunteering at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), Dr. Shacknai organized and coordinated numerous successful projects. She was the volunteer Director of the SARRC Therapeutic Camp for Children with Autism, located at Whispering Hope Ranch in Payson, Arizona. This unique volunteer opportunity served as a catalyst for Dr. Shacknai, as she realized her passion was inextricably tied to working with children.
She subsequently returned to graduate school to pursue her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Developmental Psychology, completing two clinical rotations, a doctoral dissertation, and a requisite APA-approved internship. Dr. Shacknai has worked extensively at the distinguished Melmed Center in Arizona, conducting evaluations, providing individual treatment for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, social and familial challenges, and an array of other psychological issues. In addition, Dr. Shacknai authored curricula, and facilitated social skills groups for children.
Maxie's untimely death unfortunately necessitated an indefinite leave of absence from Dr. Shacknai's established professional practice, but she remains a member of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Shacknai has consistently supported many local and national charitable organizations, and continues to actively support SARRC, Whispering Hope Ranch, the Sojourner Center, Florence Crittenton of Arizona, Childhelp, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, MISS Foundation, New Directions Institute, PANDA/ Steele Children's Research Center, and Gabriel’s Angels, among others.
Both personally and professionally, the most meaningful experiences in Dina's life have revolved around children. She feels honored to have had the privilege to witness Maxie's awe-inspiring, loving perspective of the world. Regardless of the tragedy resulting in the loss of her precious son, Dina would not trade anything for the six amazing years she shared with Maxie. She truly believes that her role as a mother has been the most satisfying experience in her life.
Through the efforts of Maxie's House, Maxie’s beautiful legacy will manifest a significantly positive impact in the lives of countless children and families throughout America, and ultimately, throughout the world.