Fabulous People: Megan Finnerty

Megan Finnerty is the Founder and Senior Director of the Arizona Storytellers Project at USA Today/Gannett. In 2011, Finnerty created the Arizona Storytellers Project, which started in Phoenix and now has grown to become a nationwide series of live storytelling nights that takes place at various venues throughout the country in which neighbors and notables share true first-person stories. After rapid growth and success over the last decade, Finnerty has expanded what was once a local passion project to a nationwide-series now operating under the USA TODAY Network. Today, more than 6,000 storytellers have shared their stories at events across the country. Learn more about Megan Finnerty… 

Hometown: Long Beach, Ind.

First job: Val’s Pizza and Grinders. I answered phones and made pizzas and sandwiches.

Favorite AZ restaurant: AZ88 – everything there is perfect and timeless and it’s the place I’ve felt the most special and beautiful since I first moved to Phoenix. To a small-town girl from Indiana, that place has always felt impossibly sophisticated.

Person who has impacted your life the most: Liz Warren, of the South Mountain Community College’s Storytelling Institute. She has mentored me since 2011 and poured all her education, all her thoughtfulness, grace, skill and wit into me with a phenomenal generosity that has enabled my personal and professional growth in a way that I can never repay. But I tried. My son’s middle name, Elias, in her honor.

Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: Growing my life beyond an obsessive, near-exclusive focus on work enough to include a husband and child. This feels like an accomplishment because it involved so much personal growth and vulnerability and change.

The biggest obstacle you have overcome: Oh man… I talk too much. I’m terrible at keeping secrets. These are real barriers to interpersonal intimacy and success.

Someone who inspires you: My husband, Vincent Malouf, because he is profoundly smart and sensitive, a combination that allows him to live a deeply considered life of service and purpose. And one of my best friends, Jeremy Smith, who owns Central Arizona Supply, and is a man filled with encouragement, loyalty and wild ambition.

Favorite quote: Nicole Carroll, editor-in-chief of USA TODAY – “No is the first step on the way to yes.”

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Most of us are terrible writers and at-best, just average thinkers. Read all the non-fiction you can to remedy both of these things.

What you think makes someone fabulous: A sense of enthusiasm for life. A lack of cynicism. A disposition toward encouragement.

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