Category Archives: schmooze profile

Schmooze Profile: Dana Arbel & Ashley Burns


Dana Arbel (left) and Ashley Burns (right) of DiRTYOGA


Name: Dana Arbel and Ashley Burns of DiRTYOGA


DA: Originally from Brooklyn, NY but raised in North Phoenix

AB: Born in Los Angeles, and raised in North Phoenix

Preferred title: “DiRTYOGA Mama’s”

Favorite Arizona place:

DA: Hiking at Dreamy Draw

AB: Weekending in Tucson.

Favorite drink:

DA: Whiskey sour

AB: Paloma

Favorite local project:

DA: I love going to Wednesday nights at the Phoenix Arts Museum

AB: The Jazz Series at Valley Bar.



Savasana or handstand?

DA: Savasana

AB: Savasana

What was your first real job?

DA: I made sandwiches at Togo’s for a summer when I was 16

AB: I was a tutor at Kumon Math and Reading.

How do you describe the work you do?

DA: Through DiRTYOGA, we teach yoga classes in different outdoor settings, through local collaborations to make people feel GOOD and close to their communities. We believe in the power of yoga, and want to make it accessible to all.

AB: It’s heart work! DiRTYOGA was birthed from our personal experiences with the practice, and our need to share it. We believe in bringing yoga, in accessible ways, to the people with the help of like-minded organizations. A lot of time is spent on reaching out and ASKING for collaboration opportunities. Our movement has been successful thus far because of our willingness to be vulnerable (open-hearted) and simply ask. It is amazing how often the response is yes.


What activity do you consistently make time to do, or at least try to?

DA: Lately I have been exploring many forms of self expression including writing, painting, and dancing. With no expectations or goals, but for the purpose of simply expressing myself. It has made a huge difference In my life.

AB: I journal daily, and recently added acupuncture to my self-love routine.

When do you feel most in your element, zone, etc.?

DA: When my house is in order, I can put music on, cook, and chill out.

AB: When I am leading a yoga class.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

DA: You are great being exactly who you are, don’t try to be anyone else. Speak up!

AB: Stop straightening your hair! Embrace the effortless power and beauty that come with rocking your curls. They are a special extension of you.


What direction would you like your life to take from here?

DA: I am at a place where I am creating the life that I want for myself, by allowing myself to explore and learn. So I say, to be determined.

AB: Sky’s the limit! Next, I want to take over the world one smile at a time.

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Schmooze Profile: Galena Davis


Name:                                    Galena Davis

Hometown:                          Wheatfields, AZ 

Favorite Arizona place:    Home! The Navajo Reservations! Near the Chuska Mountains. Most of my family resides there and I can’t imagine living any place else. The air is cool and the mountains are calming.

 Favorite drink:                    Navajo tea, hot and cold.

 Favorite local project:       I’m not sure if this is even a project, but I love all the Senior Centers that serve the elders living across the reservation. I understand that most chapters have been working on improving their Senior Centers. The one in my community offers a lunch program, access to washers and dryers, and even shower rooms for the elders to bathe. It’s such a neat program. Most of our elders do not have running water or electricity, so these Senior Centers are a blessing.


Morning person or Night owl:

 I could be both. Most days start at 6am for me. Then again, I often burn the midnight oil.

What was your first real job?

Does earning money by braiding hair and babysitting by age 11 count? Haha! If not, my first REAL job was actually working in the food service industry. I was a server at a Denny’s Restaurant located here on the Reservation.  I was 19 years old and saving up so I could move to the city to further my college education.  I was there for about 4 months. It was a great experience. It gave me a chance to almost-perfect my customer service skills. I loved it, I made new friends and I even got to meet some notable Native actors/performers.

How do you describe the work you do?

I am: An aunt, a motivator, a respiratory therapist, and a business owner.

I love being an aunt. I love my kids! I take my role very serious. Haha!! Besides enjoying being an aunt, I am a board certified Respiratory Therapist. I work at a hospital here on the Navajo Reservation where I was recently named May 2016 Employee of the Month. In the clinical setting, I specialize in the heart and lungs. FUN!

I also started a business called Mountain View Home Care, LLC about 2 years ago. We’re dedicated to offering attendant care and homemaker services to the elders and individuals all across Arizona who may need assistance.


I’ve always been one to encourage people to go out and do what they love. Some times all a person really needs is some inspiration in their life to help them get to the next chapter. Knowing this, I started an Instagram page hoping to motivate my people and myself. What started out as posting little notes to myself, ended up being an account many people come to to seek motivation. Now my Instagram posts have been seen and reposted by many indigenous people around the world. Instagram: gm.davis (formerly: runawaygtrain)

What activity do you consistently make time to do, or at least try to?      

I try to spend whatever free time I have with my nieces and nephews. I’m often away at work for 7+ days a time, and it’s hard. I do miss them. I’m just thankful they’re very understanding and forgiving kids. Besides that, I try to practice my photography. I’m self taught, but I love it!


Looking for uplifting content in your Instagram feed? Follow Galena at @gm.davis (formerly @runawaygtrain).


When do you feel most in your element, zone, etc.?

When I’m silently praying in the ER code room standing next to and helping a critical patient. At that moment in time, I am focused on them, only them. Time stops and I feel nothing, the only thing I’m doing is trying to keep them alive and praying for a positive outcome.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

Stop and smell the sage. There’s no rush.


What direction would you like your life to take from here?

I’ve always had this Dr. Annie Dodge Wauneka mentality. She once said, “I’ll go and do more.” So if God permits, by all means, I will go and do more. I’d like to do more for the youth, our elders, and for those wanting to further their college education. I want to give away scholarships. I want to start businesses to aid and better my community. I don’t want to just settle… because the next generation is watching.


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schmooze profile: Melanie Fey & Amber McCrary


Native Zinetress creators Amber McCrary (left) and Melanie Fey (right) at the Portland Zine Symposium.


Melanie Fey & Amber McCrary


MF: Flagstaff, Arizona

AM: Flagstaff, Arizona

Favorite Arizona place:

MF: My favorite place is my dad’s house, way on the outskirts of Flagstaff, during moonless summer nights. It’s so warm out and if you lay outside on the picnic table, you can see all the stars and the Milky Way perfectly. Seriously, I think I saw a UFO once. It was crazy. But it’s also beautiful, seeing the stars the way they’re meant to be seen, without all the light pollution, at 8,000ft.

AM: The Canyons at my Grandma’s sheep camp (Shonto, AZ)

Favorite drink:

MF: Coconut water is the bestest.

AM: Arnold Palmer

Favorite local project:

MF: Portland, OR (which is where I currently live) has so much to offer, where do I even begin? One Flaming Arrow: Inter-tribal Indigenous Art, Music and Film Festival is relatively new but absolutely revolutionary. It’s an annual festival during the summer that showcases Indigenous resistance and survivance type art and media made by Native artists. Demian DinéYazhi, Kaila Ferrell-Smith and Carlee Smith organize this amazing event. They will probably be opening up the application process soon so that’s something for Indigenous artists to keep an eye out for. Unchaste Readers is a reading series that highlights raw and unfiltered prose and poetry read by local female authors. It’s organized by Jenny Forrester and takes place every few months. There are just so many local projects that I love here in Portland but I could write about that for hours so I’ll just stop here.

AM: Wasted Ink Zine Distro. They are a zine distro/shop based out of Tempe Arizona. It is a cute little shop filled with zines from all over the country. It’s a great place to stop by and look at DIY items like buttons, zines, bags and comics. It’s a lot of fun to see that creativity should not be limited to just those few, I like the idea that anyone can publish anything they feel or want due to DIY Zine culture.




Amber McCrary


Spinning or yoga?

MF: Definitely yoga! Although I wish I could do it more often because it helps me to de-stress! And what’s this spinning thing? I keep hearing about it. Does it have to do with bikes?

AM: Yoga!

What was your first real job?

MF: My first real job was at a movie theater. I had to show up in a white button down shirt (usually covered in popcorn butter stains), suspenders and a shiny blue tie and cummerbund.  When I wasn’t sweeping the floors of theaters and throwing away half-finished sodas, I was at the concession stand begrudgingly asking customers if they’d like to upsize their orders. I only lasted 3 months.

AM: My first real job was working at a thrift store in Flagstaff called Savers. It’s still one of the best jobs I’ve had, I loved the idea of finding all these great fashion finds for less than $10. It was a fun outlet to be creative and I had a lot of great weird co-workers. Actually, that is how I officially discovered Feminism because one of my supervisors was a radical feminist.

Chemawa Reading 2015

Melanie Fey at a poetry reading she did for Chemawa Indian School and Williamette University students.

How do you describe the work you do?

MF: I’m a library minion at Multnomah County Library; your tax dollars hard at work. Seriously though, I love books.

AM: I work with Indigenous Youth in the Valley.

What activity do you consistently make time to do, or at least try to?

MF: I try to spend as much quality time with my cats as possible. Their names are Spike and Hades and I think they often get mad at me for spending so much time working and writing. Always got to check in with my fur-babies though, make sure they’re doing alright.

AM: I try to run. I actually really don’t like running but it balances me out in terms of stress, appetite and mood. Basically, running keeps me out of my crazy tree. Even 30 minutes of running a day is hard for me but at the end of the day I feel lighter and sleep better.

When do you feel most in your element, zone, etc.?

MF: When I get into my writing zone, that’s when I’m in my element and it can be really hard to snap me out of it. Seriously, I get this crazy look on my face when I’m really getting into either my poetry, short stories or zine work. I even wear a writing bonnet sometimes, this crazy looking wolf scarf thing. When I have that on, that’s when I mean business.

AM: I feel I’m most in my element or zone when I’m listening to music, writing, reading or working with people.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

MF: Remember to breathe kid! And don’t compromise your true self in order to fit in. It’s not worth it.

AM: It gets better.

What direction would you like your life to take from here?

MF: More travel? Yes, please! Write a novel? Yes, please! Travel writer? Yes, please!

AM: I would like to continue working with the Native American community, go to Graduate school and continue doing this writing project with my zine husband, Melanie.


To purchase a copy of Native Zinestress, visit their Etsy store in the coming days as they will be selling the third installment of their zine, “Shik’is ShiHeart”. More information HERE.


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Name: Viridiana (Viri) Hernandez

Hometown: Jojutla, Morelos, MX

Preferred title: Public Policy Director, Center for Neighborhood Leadership

Favorite Arizona place: Road trip to Flagstaff, Sedona, Jerome, Prescott. Take the 89A for best views of Arizona!

Favorite drink: Blue Moon

Favorite local project: One Phx ID! One Phx ID is a community-driven initiative to obtain a municipal identification for everyone in Phoenix.  Many people in Phoenix—immONEIDigrants, children, students, people with disabilities, elderly, indigent community, runaway youth and adult survivors of domestic violence, and others—currently suffer from the lack of identification, which restricts their access to law enforcement, financial institutions, housing, and home and workplace protections. As a result, we have people in our community living in fear and being denied access to everyday necessities. One Phx ID is an idea that came from the community for the community. I am honored to help lead this fight with the strongest and most caring coalition partners.

THIS or THAT: Morning person or Night owl? Hoot Hoot (My bad impression of a night owl)

What was your first real job? Does selling my grandma’s doughnuts, cleaning offices with my mom or working at the swapmeet count? If not, the first job that had hours and hourly payment was at a taxi company; night shift (10pm-6am) as the dispatcher. This was brutal when I had class at 9am! ZZZzzzZZZ

How do you describe the work you do? Powerful.  At CNL, we aim to rebuild broken systems (school, city, state)  that hurt our families by valuing our community’s input, stories, culture and identity.  As the Policy Director for Center for Neighborhood Leadership (CNL), I help oversee our 3 projects: Valor Women Organizing for Justice Program, Safe Schools Now and Academic and Leadership Accelerator for Service (ALAS). Our role is to build local neighborhood leaders. We are blessed with some of the most inspiring and hardworking staff. They work in neighborhoods and schools everyday to build leaders, those leaders build community power through teams and guide those teams to create transformational change through community-driven policy. One of those community-driven initiatives is the One Phx ID, an idea that originated from migrant women in Maryvale, through the Valor Program. We value and reinforce our community’s ability to identify their own problems and solutions.CNL

We understand there are leaders everywhere, many who have not realized their potential and power. I provide training, support, development,  and structure for our staff, projects, policy and leaders. I also have the opportunity to build new partnerships, work with value-aligned organizations and lead coalitions.  It is a humbling experience to take individuals and projects through that growth process. At the end, whether those leaders stay in CNL, form their own organizations, go into another field or to other organizations; we are confident we have built leaders that will lead with their values and love for community. They will understand their responsibility to create change and be equipped with the necessary tools to be successful anywhere in their life.

What activity do you consistently make time to do, or at least try to?

I make sure to make time to visit my family in Buckeye. Especially to get play time with my niece and little brother and sister. They were once the perfect excuse to watch Pixar and Disney movies and gave me the courage to do it on my own 🙂 I also make time to do my nails, it makes me feel prepared for the weeks ahead and it is a visible reminder when I need to “take care” of myself.

When do you feel most in your element, zone, etc.?

When I am  developing/ training an upcoming leader, especially women and youth. I play a role as people gain confidence to  create the community they want to live in. It is the most beautiful and humbling feeling to know people trust me to get them through their insecurities and unrealized power.


What advice do you have for your younger self?

I would let my younger self know an important lesson I have recently learned, “You do not control other people’s actions, but you are fully responsible for your own.” Be the best version of yourself. Learn about yourself; every inch of yourself, face the demons in your life, forgive yourself, and don’t base your actions on other people’s expectations or actions. Do something every day to learn about yourself; let’s be the most authentic version of Viri!

What direction would you like your life to take from here?

I am open to all the different ways that my life can take me. The last few years have been a personal struggle; identity crisis,  heartbreak, pain, loss… I have found that even in those moments, especially in these moments, I have been connected to the most amazing people, the most beautiful love, the most unconditional support. I am excited for everything that is to come in my life. In terms of my role in my life, I will make sure to enjoy every minute and increase my impact in the world. Increase the smiles I give, the love I show, and the support I provide.




Viri accepting her award for Activist of the Year at the 2015 Stylos Awards.


schmooze profile: megan finnerty


This is Megan on stage at Phoenix Theatre in September.

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…


This is me interviewing Native American young people at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in June for an Arizona Republic story.

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


Megan is the Founder of the Arizona Storytellers Project, a dedicated to the idea that oral storytelling and journalism have the same goals: serving and reflecting a community while fostering empathy among those people.

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.