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Chandler’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyagePhoenix is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Greater Phoenix area’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out inspiring stories from Chandler and surrounding areas below.

Kelly Dillard

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona. I lived here until I was ten years old. Once after that, my mom, my sisters and I all moved to Kansas City, Missouri. I lived in Kansas City until I was 20 years old. Throughout my childhood, I loved to play sports like ice hockey, baseball, basketball, and football. I got my athletic genes from my dad, who is a former pro baseball player. Fortunately, none of those ever really stuck with me because I discovered skateboarding. I was 12 when I really started to engage in skateboarding. It has helped me a lot mentally throughout my years of growing up. I’ve dealt with bullying, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm. Skateboarding was always my outlet and has made me the person that I am today. I have met so many great people and made so many wonderful friendships. Read more>>

Angelica Vega-Foley

Currently, I serve as the Vice President of Partner Success & Solutions with StrongMind. In my role, I have the pleasure and responsibility of ensuring that our users have the best experience(s) as they onboard, implement and use our product. My journey to now began in a classroom. Back in 2009, I began my MPA program at ASU. This was also the same day that my eldest daughter, Kaya Mae began kindergarten and I became a Pre-K classroom aide. It was almost instantly that I fell in love with the classroom and knew I wanted to become a teacher, but I had already begun my program of study in Public Administration. Read more>>

Ellicia Romo

I got started as a teacher in Arizona in 1994. After moving from Northern AZ to the Phoenix area, I knew I wanted to find a new career path. I joined a company where I was able to learn about life and health insurance and investments as well. They helped me with schooling and training and before long, I was licensed in life and health insurance and I had a series 6 and 63 to sell mutual funds. I stayed in that field for a while. I had great mentors and learned the art of closing a sale and training others. At this time of my life, I went through a divorce and needed to make a career move again. We were working together and I did not want that. The divorce left me financially strained. I was reliant on the state for assistance while I worked to get back on my feet. Read more>>

Edie Klein

My name is Edie Klein, the owner and creator of Fairview & Co Design. I repurpose vintage barn wood that’s been salvaged from my great-uncle’s barn into new jewelry. I got my start making beaded jewelry in 2003 when a co-worker taught me the basics. I’ve loved jewelry since I was a kid and was so excited to learn everything I could to make my own creations. In 2016, I was looking for a new medium that would allow me more creative control over my designs when my dad mentioned that my great-uncle’s barn was slated to be torn down. Woodworking was not something that I had previously considered, but it intrigued me. I made a few prototypes and was instantly hooked. Read more>>

Emilie Ma

Modern Women is a student-led humanitarian relief project aimed towards women’s rights to reproductive health. By making menstrual products more easily available and increasing discourse about female anatomy, we are destigmatizing the fight to improve the holistic health of women in the states. Every year, we devise a plan to aid a target population, especially Native American menstruators. We run fundraisers, donate feminine products in hygiene care packages, partner up with local clinics and reservations. We hope to bridge the gap between access to female hygiene products and low-income menstruators with its efforts. Read more>>

Jay Landfair

The Jaxon Foundation story starts on November 7th 2018; about a year before the foundation was officially created. Jaxon had been at a Marching Band competition a few days before and while unloading the equipment from the trucks he started feeling light headed and felt he was going to pass out. I received a call to come and pick him up. We went to the doctor the next day. He was tested for mono and a few other things but it seemed he just had a migraine and was to try and sleep it off. The doctor said if he wasn’t better in two days to bring him back in. Two days later we called to make the appointment to bring him back in and we were told it would be faster to take him to the emergency room for bloodwork to be done. Read more>>

Jackson Solomon

I’ve been drawing and creating artwork for as long as I can remember. My mom was an artist, so from a young age I drew a ton of inspiration from her. Growing up I was always doodling cartoons and creating characters, trying new styles, and as the years went on I started playing with various mediums. I did lots of digital art, and started working with digital art programs as early as 13 years old. When I started private art lessons, I started working more with different types of paints: watercolor, acrylic, and oil paint for the most part. Since then, my art style has become a lot more refined, and in some ways even more abstract. I still create characters and have recently been improving my graphic design skills, and soon plan on trying to create a webcomic with a friend. Read more>>

Shannon Wilke

I grew a passion for special education advocacy during my years in management at a large University. For over a decade, my days were spent advocating for students by training faculty & the administration to ensure disability rights compliance. When my own son needed specialized education years ago, I discovered that there was a gap in the system. Parents should be an equal part of the team but were not being made aware of the complex process, so Shine Advocacy Group was created. Shine Advocacy Group’s mission is to empower parents, students & educators with a better understanding of special education. Read more>>

Candace Schacherbauer

I graduated from The National Esthetics Institute of Scottsdale in 2004. At the time, I did not realize this would be my life path and that I would love my career so much. I actually talked my mom into attending Esthetics school with me which made it fun to have a close study partner. We threw around the idea of opening up a spa or two but I ended up going to work for a renowned Plastic Surgeon in the Ahwatukee area right after graduating. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented plastic surgeons. It’s funny to think I’m back in Ahwatukee with the same doctor I started with right out of school! Read more>>

Ruchi Kalra

I came to the US as a young 15-year-old college student from Africa. Over the years I graduated in Math, Computer Science, and an MBA in Marketing. I worked in various roles in corporate America in revenue accounting/sales planning and analysis to marketing for an orthodontist. Read more>>

Deepa Iyer

My story begins in Mumbai where I lived for the first 22 years of my life. I graduated with a Degree from a premier social work institution in Mumbai called Tata Institute of Social Work. It’s one of the few degrees that was recognized here so I could find a job as a counselor after I got my green card. My husband, Bala was working as a mechanical engineer for Intel and we started our life together in Ahwatukee. After spending a few years raising my two boys, I decided to change careers and embarked on my journey to become a teacher. After completing my elementary certification, I started my teaching career as a 4th Grade teacher with the Chandler Unified School District in 2007 and quickly realized that I have a real passion for science. Read more>>

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