If Destination ImagiNation (DI) were a client, Tammy Wood
could bill the organization for nearly 300 hours of her time
each year. But DI isn’t a client; it’s an academic problem-solving
competition for which Wood volunteers as a parent manager,
regional board member and program director.
Wood, an equity partner and commercial litigator at Bell Nunnally & Martin, has earned the nickname “DI Queen” around her Dallas office. She can often be found fund-raising for the group, attending board meetings or preparing her team of pre-teen girls for the rigorous competitions that make up Destination ImagiNation.
Touted as the thinking kids’ Olympics, DI teaches children to creatively solve problems and work as a team in competitions that range from mechanical and architectural to theatrical and improvisational projects. Teams of five to seven kids close in age compete to solve problems in a limited amount of time.
Wood, who has a theater background, has coached her daughter’s team in the improvisation challenge for the past six years. She got involved with DI when her then-third-grader came home from school with a flier and wanted to join (Wood also had a daughter in the first grade). Wood took one look at the material and decided it would be perfect for her daughter. Only one problem. There weren’t enough parent managers. So Wood stepped up.
“DI is a great experience,” she says. “I had kids in my group who would barely speak they were so shy. Now they can get up in front of people and talk. It changes the way they think—I can see it in my own daughters. They are good at making something out of nothing and brainstorming to come up with solutions.”
Wood manages her full legal caseload and the demands of coaching a DI team by creating all-girl squads. That way, she can host several sleepovers a year where she helps the girls hone their improvisational skills. Each week during the competition season, the team practices in Wood’s specially designated DI room—her room of failed hobbies, which contains all manner of art supplies.
Last year Wood upped her involvement with DI by volunteering to serve on the regional board. Her goal is to encourage more school districts to offer DI. And if that weren’t enough volunteer commitments, Wood also does pro bono political asylum cases and serves on the board of Educational Opportunities Inc., a scholarship organization.