Sean Watson: Phoenix DJ for Bar Smith, Crescent Ballroom

Sean Watson, Phoenix DJ at Bar Smith, Crescent Ballroom and around the Valley, photographed at Lux Central, by Nicki Escudero

Sean Watson, Phoenix DJ at Bar Smith, Crescent Ballroom and around the Valley, photographed at Lux Central, by Nicki Escudero

Sean Watson
Facebook.com/DJSeanWatson

It’s impossible not to dance at a Sean Watson show. The professional DJ, a 42-year-old Phoenix resident who has commanded the masses to move for more than eight years, plays a mix of electronic dance music and popular hits that make anyone a fan. He’s just as energetic as his music, smiling and bouncing up and down to the beats, as a stunning visual show lights up the dance floor.

Catch him at his rowdy Friday night parties at Bar Smith in Phoenix every week from 9 p.m.-2 a.m., at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix Saturday’s from midnight- 2 a.m., and at Civic Space Park in Phoenix Thursday’s and Friday’s from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. He also plays special shows and will DJ a new Thursday night residency at new Phoenix venue The Local, starting at the end of April.

Watson, who’s also a music producer, talked about what it takes to become a professional DJ. Keep scrolling to watch a video of the longtime Arizonan name his five favorite reasons for living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My family. I was born in Walnut Creek, California and came here when my parents moved here when I was 1 year old. I went to Brophy (college Preparatory) High School and to Northern Arizona University for a couple years. Continue reading

Pam Gaber: CEO of Gabriel’s Angels Pet Therapy Program

Pam Gaber, CEO of Gabriel's Angels, pet therapy for abused and at-risk children, photographed at her office in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Pam Gaber, CEO of Gabriel’s Angels, pet therapy for abused and at-risk children, photographed at her office in Phoenix with therapy dog Micah, by Nicki Escudero

Pam Gaber
twitter.com/GabrielsAngels

Pam Gaber just wanted to bring some light into the lives of at-risk children when she brought her dog, Gabriel, to visit the kids at Crisis Nursery in Phoenix while she was volunteering there back in 1999. His impact inspired her to start nonprofit Gabriel’s Angels, which connects therapy dogs with at-risk youth, going strong since 2000 and now serving 13,500 Valley kids a year. Gaber, a 57-year-old Scottsdale resident, ditched the corporate life to work full-time as CEO for Gabriel’s Angels, which now has 11 full-time employees and 175 therapy dog teams, as well as a therapy miniature horse, bunny and cat.

Gabriel’s Angels serves kids all over the state, from Tucson to Prescott, Sedona and Cottonwood, and is funded through individuals, corporate grants and events. The nonprofit hosts a breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore Friday, May 2, which is free to the public — find more information here. The organization is also partnering with Brad Jaffe, owner of Dogological dog teaching program, for his crowdfunding campaign for an upcoming dog training DVD — donate to the campaign, and a portion of the funds raised go toward Gabriel’s Angels.

Gaber, also the author of a memoir, Gabriel’s Angels: The Story of the Dog Who Inspired a Revolution, talked about how her passion for helping has turned into a new career. Scroll down to watch a video of her talking about her favorite reasons for living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My corporate career. I was working for a pharmaceutical company in Florida before moving to Dallas, and then I was moved to Phoenix in 1989. I was born in New Jersey and grew up on the West coast of Florida. Continue reading

Brandy Hotchner: Artistic Director of Arizona Actors Academy

Brandy Hotchner, artistic director of Arizona Actors Academy and resident instructor at Phoenix Theatre, photographed at Phoenix Theatre, by Nicki Escudero

Brandy Hotchner, artistic director of Arizona Actors Academy and resident instructor at Phoenix Theatre, photographed at Phoenix Theatre, by Nicki Escudero

Brandy Hotchner
twitter.com/azactorsacademy

If you’re looking for a serious career in acting, taking a class by Brandy Hotchner is a great start. The 42-year-old Scottsdale resident and Denver native is a resident instructor at Phoenix Theatre and the artistic director for Arizona Actors Academy, which offers method acting, master acting, on-camera, Shakespeare, teen and improvisation classes to locals. Hotchner’s had the acting bug since she was a little kid and has extensive experience, including time in New York City.

Hotchner is passionate about improving the Arizona arts scene and talked about what the public can do to help. Read on to hear her talk about her five favorite reasons for loving living in Arizona, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came here from New York in 2002. I had been there more than a decade and had all the ups and downs of an acting and directing career out there.

September 11th (2001) was a very personally traumatic event for me, and after about a year, the city just didn’t feel like home for me anymore. Many of my friends and colleagues had moved to L.A. and were loving the beach and seemed to be pursuing a career with a little less strife. I left New York to go to L.A., and my family was here, so I stopped here along the way to regroup. That first week here, I met who would become my now-husband. Within a year, I was married and had my first baby, and here I am. Continue reading

Tammy Wadina: Owner of OMW Plumbing

Tammy Wadina, owner of OMW Plumbing, photographed at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Tammy Wadina, owner of OMW Plumbing, photographed at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Tammy Wadina
twitter.com/OMWPlumbing

You may not associate women with plumbing, but Tammy Wadina is one local lady who’s changing perceptions in the Valley. The 39-year-old Cave Creek resident owns OMW Plumbing, a 24/7, same-day plumbing company serving the entire Valley, as well as Tucson. Wadina, a licensed plumber, says she applies the same hospitality values she gleaned from her restaurant industry experience to her plumbing business she began in 2012, while her background in marketing and advertising has also been beneficial as a business owner.

Read on for Wadina’s plumbing maintenance tips, as well as to hear five reasons why she loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Greenfield, Wisconsin and moved here with my sister when I graduated college with a degree in business administration and hospitality management from Mount Mary College 14 years ago. We had aunts and uncles we had visited here, and we wanted to move to a warmer climate. Continue reading

Eddie Johnson: Phoenix Suns Announcer for Fox Sports Arizona

Eddie Johnson
twitter.com/Jumpshot8

Eddie Johnson brings a unique insider’s view to his role as a Phoenix Suns announcer for Fox Sports Arizona — from 1987-1990, he played with the Suns, and has been calling their games for the past 14 years. The 54-year-old Paradise Valley resident and 17-year NBA veteran is also a motivational speaker, basketball journalist for HoopsHype.com, and author of the book, You Big Dummy: An Athlete’s “SIMPLE” Guide to a Successful Career!, which he says offers words of wisdom and inspiration for readers to follow their dreams.

He offered up his insight on the Suns’ season, as well as why he loves living in the Valley in a video, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was almost forced to come here because I was traded from (the) Sacramento (Kings) to Phoenix, but I wasn’t forced to make it my home. I decided to make it my home after being traded here and playing for the Suns. I came to the Suns in 1987 and got traded from Phoenix to (the) Seattle (Supersonics) in ’90. (My wife and I) still had a house here in Phoenix, and we upgraded and bought another house here while I was in Seattle. Continue reading