Name: Megan Finnerty
Hometown: Long Beach, Ind.
Preferred title: Reporter at the Arizona Republic, Founder of the Arizona Storytellers Project
Favorite Arizona place: Grand Canyon. Too obvious? Also – my patio on the 7th floor of my building, facing north and looking at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
Favorite drink: Anything I’m having at AZ 88.
Favorite local project: Pretty much everything Local First Arizona does is class-act. Also – the investigative journalism my colleagues at the Arizona Republic do is invaluable to our community, holding elected officials accountable, ensuring systems work for the citizenry and that the vulnerable and poor have the resources they need.
THIS or THAT – Morning person or Night owl?
BOTH. I work out in the mornings at the Phoenix College Track, but I rarely miss an opportunity to stay out for a drink with friends.
What was your first real job?
Val’s Pizza and Grinders in Michigan City, Ind. I answered phones, made pizzas, prepped ingredients, cleaned the kitchen…
How do you describe the work you do?
I am a journalist and storytelling consultant. I am a professional listener. Who loves to talk. It’s complicated. I write and talk about feelings. A lot. I report on issues of identity as seen through the lenses of fashion, food and drink, relationships, and the pursuit of idle pleasures.
In 2015, I was named by Editor & Publisher as one of 25 under 35 legacy newsroom leaders. In 2011, I was a finalist for the Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. Also in 2011, I founded, and still host, the Arizona Storytellers Project.
In 2012, it won a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award and a National Headliner Award for first place in Journalistic Innovation. Now, I’ve taken versions of it to eight other cities, including Cincinnati, Palm Springs and Nashville.
I’m obsessed with the idea that oral storytelling and journalism are dedicated to the same goals: serving and reflecting a community while fostering empathy among those community members.
What activity do you consistently make time to do, or at least try to?
I volunteer teaching spin at my YMCA twice a week, and I run with girlfriends twice a week. I am pretty firm in those commitments. And I put out a newsletter every other week. Sign up at MeganMFinnerty.com.
When do you feel most in your element, zone, etc.?
When I’m telling a story. When I’m coaching a person who is telling their own story. When I am sipping a Negroni.
What advice do you have for your younger self?
I spent some very real time trying to make men into good boyfriends instead of appreciating that they were already good men. I would focus on some potential greatness that I thought certain men were withholding more than the in-the-moment goodness they were actually offering. This is a horrifying realization.
What direction would you like your life to take from here?
More of everything. I want my life only to be bigger, every day. And, I would like to be of service to as many people as possible, with both my heart and my hands.