Ken Morrison: The Beer Czar

Ken Morrison, The Beer Czar blogger, photographed at Craft 64 in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ken Morrison, The Beer Czar blogger, photographed at Craft 64 in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ken Morrison
www.thebeerczar.blogspot.com

Ken Morrison is a craft beer expert whose passion for the frothy drink extends to his blog, where he talks about everything beer-related as the Beer Czar. The 42-year-old Gilbert resident, who works for Bank of America as an operations analyst for workforce management and staffing, touches on everything from how to cook with beer, to coverage on where to get local brews in the Valley.

Morrison shared more about why he’s so fervent about craft beer and gave his tips for brewskie beginners. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

Winter. I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and grew up in northern Maine. My parents moved out here while I was in college in southern New Hampshire at Franklin Pierce College. The winter we had during my senior year of college was one of the worst winters on record. I was studying fine arts and education, and on my way to student teaching one day, I did a 360 in my car in the snow. I vowed to myself that was going to be the last winter I’d ever spend in New England. I moved to Arizona after I graduated and have been here ever since.

When I first came to Arizona, I was a teacher for a few years. I then moved into finance and have continued working in that field. Continue reading

Dave Ference: Owner of Ference Photography

Dave Ference, owner of Ference Photography, photographed at Gilbert High School, by Nicki EScudero

Dave Ference, owner of Ference Photography, photographed at Gilbert High School, by Nicki Escudero

Dave Ference
www.ferencephotography.com

Dave Ference is passionate about capturing the best shot for his clients, whether he’s working on family portraits, model photos for a portfolio or corporate photography. As owner of Ference Photography, Ference works with individuals and businesses around the Valley and strives to create a relaxed environment that brings out the best in those he photographs.

The 45-year-old Gilbert resident, who is also a baseball coach at Gilbert High School, talked about his best photography techniques and gave advice to everyday photographers. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here. I went to Gerard Catholic High School and got my degree in graphic design from Northern Arizona University. Continue reading

Courtney Cotter King: Singer-Songwriter

Courtney Cotter King
www.courtneycotterking.com

Courtney Cotter King is one of the Valley’s most talented singer-songwriters, with a beautiful soulful voice and adept songwriting ability spanning genres ranging from pop to progressive rock. The 23-year-old Gilbert resident has written more than 100 songs and released three albums since she was in junior high school, and she performs at venues throughout the state when she’s not making polished music videos for her singles.

King is signed to local record label Fervor Records and is available for hire for special events such as weddings. She also teaches piano lessons and plays house parties for donations, which you can read more about below. Keep reading to see her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My ancestors came to Arizona, and my family has lived here for years. I was born here and went to Mesa High School. After high school, I attended a summer music performance program at Berklee College of Music before I studied audio production at Mesa Community College. Continue reading

Miguel Ivery: DJ Seduce and Founder of Afro:Baile Records

Miguel Ivery, aka DJ Seduce and founder of Afro:Baile Records and Brazilian Day Arizona, photographed at his home in Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Miguel Ivery, aka DJ Seduce and founder of Afro:Baile Records and Brazilian Day Arizona Festival, photographed at his home in Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Miguel Ivery
www.afrobaile.com

Miguel Ivery is at the forefront of bringing Brazilian music to the masses, as founder of Brazilian music-focused Afro:Baile Records and the annual Brazilian Day Arizona Festival, whose sixth event will happen at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts September 19. He also spins records as DJ Seduce, specializing in world music that gets crowds dancing.

Ivery, a 37-year-old Gilbert resident, talked about what inspired him to start his own label and what he strives for as a DJ. Keep reading to see him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

Actually, I’m a native, one of barely any left or living here in the Valley. I attended high school at Saguaro High School and continued to community college before leaving to pursue music. Continue reading

Kristin Castle: General Manager of Scottsdale Culinary Festival and the Scottsdale League for the Arts

Kristin Castle, general manager of Scottsdale Culinary Festival and the Scottsdale League for the Arts, photographed at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, by Nicki Escudero

Kristin Castle, general manager of Scottsdale Culinary Festival and the Scottsdale League for the Arts, photographed at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, by Nicki Escudero

Kristin Castle
twitter.com/ScottsdaleFest

Imagine the stress of putting a party together — having to make sure you have the right mix of people (who actually come after they RSVP), making sure you get enough food so no one leaves hungry, and having to put together the perfect party music mix that everyone will enjoy. Now, multiple that by 1,000. As general manager of Scottsdale Culinary Festival and the Scottsdale League for the Arts, it’s Kristin Castle’s job to make sure the Valley’s longest-running culinary festival comes together perfectly. The Gilbert resident started off her professional career in the world of dance, as a touring company member for shows such as Footloose and The Music Man, before becoming an event planner. She’s helping coordinate the Cooks and Corks dining event Friday, November 8 at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North. Read on for insight into the behind-the-scenes work that goes into these massive dining events, as well as to hear five reasons why Castle is glad to call the Valley home after living in the country’s two biggest cities.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m originally from Kansas City, Missouri. I moved to New York and was a professional dancer there for about seven years. I was ready for a change from the winters and moved to L.A., where I met my husband. We came here last summer because of his job. Continue reading

Sara McClellan: Author of ‘The World Needs Hope’

Sara McClellan, author of 'The World Needs Hope,' photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan, author of ‘The World Needs Hope,’ photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan
twitter.com/worldneedshope

For some people, uncertainty and loss can be debilitating. For Sara McClellan, she chose to turn hard times into a positive message anyone can benefit from, by writing and self-publishing the recently released book, The World Needs Hope. The 36-year-old Gilbert resident, with about 20 years of professional writing experience, crafted 19 chapters of how hope can be interpreted, with a desire to inspire readers to integrate hope more into their own lives. The book also features art by 20 contributors, all who have lived in Arizona, who visually showed what hope means to them. In addition to writing and editing a blog related to the book  at www.theworldneedshope.com, McClellan will be releasing book-related merchandise starting Thursday, January 31. She talked about her inspiration for the book, what she hopes people take away from it, and why she loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

My father was relocated for a job, so we moved in high school, having never been in Arizona. My grandparents were here, and it was an opportunity to start completely fresh in a new climate. I was born in Wisconsin. Continue reading