Our small but fierce team at Arizona Luminaria is so excited to introduce you to two new members whose semester-long internships are expanding our capacity to bring you stories that center Arizona communities and help you understand how to take action on the topics you care deeply about.

Kirsten Dorman is entering her final semester at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University where her focus has been on audio storytelling and reporting that centers underrepresented communities.

Grace Benally is a Diné journalism student in her senior year also attending ASU’s Cronkite School. Benally focuses her writing on Indigenous communities, as well as entertainment coverage. 

“Grace and Kirsten are caring college journalists who put their communities first, and that matters at Arizona Luminaria,” says Dianna Náñez, executive editor and co-founder of AZ Luminaria. “They also are talented, and value inclusion and news coverage that ethically and accurately reflects Arizona’s diverse population. We’re lucky to have them join the team and share your stories. They are the next generation of journalists making local newsrooms more equitably represent people who depend on news that lights the path so they can take action.”

Benally was a reporting fellow with the Native American Journalists Association, NAJA, in the summer of 2022 and has published many freelance stories while attending college. She also is a recipient of the 2022-23 NAJA Facebook Journalism Scholarship, which supports Indigenous students and quality journalism that strengthens and connects communities.

“I am so excited to start working for AZ Luminaria and for how I’ll be able to use my experience in my future,” Benally says. “The stories that AZ Luminaria works on are very personal and in-depth, which is something I hope to achieve in working with the team and in better writing.”

Other than writing, Benally enjoys going to the movie theaters and trying out new boba drinks she finds while she wanders through bookstores. She loves to watch anime with her older brothers and play video games on her weekends to relieve stress.

Benally is looking forward to graduating in the spring of 2023 and starting to work in her field of interest. She is a creative and passionate person and hopes to bring her own outlook into her future work in writing. Follow her on Twitter @itsgracebenally or view her past work on her website.

Dorman is also working as an intern at KJZZ, Phoenix’s NPR member station, and as a podcast reporter for The State Press, ASU’s independent student-run news publication, which received the award for Best Independent Online Student Publication from the Society of Professional Journalists. She is also a recipient of the New American University Scholar Dean’s Award and a member of ASU’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

“People-focused reporting has my heart, and it’s what I see as being at the heart of Arizona Luminaria,” Dorman says. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work at a publication as inclusive and innovative as this, and excited to get started. ¡Wepa!”

Outside of her work as a reporter, Dorman enjoys finding new coffee and tea spots to try and visiting her hometown in New Jersey when she has the chance.  She also enjoys baking and finding ways to adapt the Puerto Rican dishes she grew up with — and other recipes — to be vegetarian. Follow her on Twitter @dorman_kirsten.  

As a local bilingual nonprofit newsroom, we can only do this with your support. So please know we are grateful for every story you read and share, for every new member, for everyone who has donated to help get us to where are today. We are listening and will keep doing everything we can to earn your trust in local journalism.

Please give Grace and Kirsten a big bienvenidos and share your story ideas with them. And drop us a note on Twitter @azluminaria or info@azluminaria.org.

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Irene is an audience development expert and obsessed with reader-first journalism. She is a former Arizona Daily Star editor and was co-founder of #ThisIsTucson and led that team until July 2021. She is...