There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Nissa Graun | Nutrition Author & Podcaster

I’m originally from Chicago – a city known for amazing food like pizza, beef sandwiches and amazing hot dog stands … all of the foods that are easy to crave and even easier to add pounds to your waistline. I grew up in a home with my mom and two older brothers. Since my mom was always working to keep us afloat, and my brothers were growing, food seemed scarce … at least the junk food I wanted. I felt the need to get to my favorite junk foods first so I could have at least a little before my brothers ate all of the good stuff. This led to a life of struggling with my weight and an addiction to junk food. I first noticed I was overweight at age 12 and have been on and off restrictive diets ever since. After more than 25 years of this vicious cycle, I found a keto lifestyle that finally helped me break past constant yo yo diets. I found new information that helped me improve the way my body digested foods, which meant I was able to stick to a low carb plan for the first time ever. Read more>>

Kim Kendall | Boutique Owner and Stylist

I grew up in a town of 450 people in South Dakota. Clothing wasn’t easily accessible and I struggled to be able to develop an individual style in how I dressed. It was frustrating. I wanted to own a boutique to give everyone an opportunity to look and feel good. I love educating women on fashion and what looks good and seeing them grow in confidence thanks for their clothing choices. I love that shopping has evolved from in-store experiences to online. I began as a brick and mortar store and now have evolved to online only. I am able to educate my customer through Facebook Live selling. It’s been so fun to go through this evolution with my business. I especially love that thanks to online shopping and social selling, even those who live in smaller towns and don’t have the access to stores can still shop and feel confident in what they wear. Read more>>

Jeff and Jessie Ross | Singer/Songwriters (Acoustic Duo)

We are a husband and wife singer/songwriter duo originally from Gig Harbor, Washington; just outside of Tacoma. We met back on September 3rd, 2011 and our relationship blossomed right alongside our musical adventures. We started writing songs together and eventually formed a small band with our good friend Thene Aldergreen, called The Frosted Hearts. For eight years, we played together all over the Puget Sound region of Washington and had a number of guest musicians and singers joining us during our shows. Eventually, after an apartment, first home, adopted puppy and marriage, we made the decision to disband and the two of us relocate to the Phoenix valley in 2018. JEFF: Prior to meeting, I had taken six guitar lessons back when I was twelve, but I got bored playing the same thing over and over again. After that, I wanted to learn what I wanted, so I listened to music I enjoyed and learned by ear. Read more>>

Michael Herbert Dorn | Post-Contemporary Artist – Oil Painter

I was born to American parents in St. George’s, Bermuda at Kindley Air Force Base Hospital. My father was a United States Air Force (USAF) serviceman stationed at the Air Base (base deactivated, 1995.). I was still an infant when my parents returned to the United States for my father’s next duty assignment. During my “formative years,” we moved frequently and lived in several locations including New Jersey, Oklahoma, Nevada, Washington, D.C., Southern California, and finally settling in Maryland when my father retired from the USAF in 1975. It is probably a story told in many military families. I think moving around the United States during childhood left me with a contradictory sense that I could be both at home anywhere and that nowhere was really my home. This sensibility has been with me throughout my adult life as I have continued to travel and reside in different parts of the world. Read more>>