Fire Heart Circle
Board of Directors & Executives
Darlene Chandler Bassett, President and Founder
Darlene Chandler Bassett spent two decades as a corporate executive with famed entrepreneur and arts patron, Eli Broad. Concurrent with her corporate management positions, Bassett was also Board Chair of The California Abortion Rights Action League-South, from 1984 to 1991. Through the founding of AROHO, Bassett has contributed her unique combination of corporate and non-profit management experience towards defining a new artistic legacy for women writers and artists. She is passionate about eradicating the isolation of creative women and ending the marketplace inequality of women in the arts. Bassett graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in Classics, and was a guest lecturer at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Business.
“But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her,” Virginia sounded the call. I am a woman whose instinct to seek purpose is irresistible. My life has been transformed by a dream that there is an army of creative women who believe there is a better way. You are that army. Your presence humbles me. Your presence emboldens me. What you taught me is that the gift given becomes the treasure received. My gift to you is my call: How can we find each other?–Darlene Chandler Bassett
Sun Cooper, digital Waves Editor
Sun Cooper is a published author, managing editor, and literary consultant based in Oklahoma with an annual writer’s residency in California. She regularly contributes to women-owned journals and magazines, and she collaborates with authors, editors, and a team of multicultural consultants for publishing projects around the world, particularly for advocacy for women and children at marginal intersections. She founded Sun Literary in the attic of a horse barn on her great-grandmother’s desk while finishing her degree and raising her son. Her work has been featured in Rolling Stone, National Geographic, American Cowboy, Severine, Southern Writers, UNUM and the Red with Love Campaign. A Cherokee-Euro descendant, she cultivates common ground for all relations.
After some fire in my life, I found myself rising with the help of other women – women who supported my writing, a woman gifting me the Blackbird Fellowship, other women caring for my son so I could go to Abiquiu, acts which claimed a sisterhood for me in the world of arts. As my own rising has met the rising of other women, I carry forward wisdom from the Cherokee Beloved War Women: Be courageous and compassionate with your life and with each other. This is how we release our stories. – Sun Cooper
Tracey Cravens-Gras, Vice President and Creative Director
Tracey Cravens-Gras never wanted to be an administrator. A life-long lover of the written word, she studied English at the University of Cincinnati, and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University in 1997. She began working for A Room of Her Own as Darlene Chandler Bassett’s personal assistant in 2008, and now serves as executive administrator and creative facilitator, tending to the heart of the circle and operations of AROHO. On most New Mexico mornings, her feet tend to a rhythm on the pavement between her house and the horizon.
When I was young, I wrote stories, drew pictures, created dwellings out of bricks, leaves, and the space between bushes, dreaming up new worlds with anyone willing to play. For eleven years I’ve accompanied AROHO on her journey to the center of who she is, and this has led me full circle back to who I am—a writer, an artist, a room-maker, a co-creator. I see myself in the evolution of AROHO. We are kindred spirits learning together to make something powerful and new.–Tracey Cravens-Gras
Karina Puente, Director
Karina Puente is a Mexican American creative strategist who uses art as a vehicle for solution-oriented thinking; satisfaction as a conduit for productivity. Her art studio specializes in working across industry connecting people to the joy of making, giving, and living with art. Karina’s work has been exhibited at the Studios MASS MOCA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe, the Corcoran National Gallery, Columbia University, the Colored Girls Museum, the Library of Congress, and the Women’s International Study Center.
I am a visual artist specializing in a light touch. My art is for galleries, museums, freedom-seeking women, and the home. Celebration and ceremony are part of everything I do because it keeps me connected to spirit. To the part of myself -ourselves- with overview; a continuous stream of support and inspiration. We feel it when we are lit up. I’m an artist to make that feeling tangible. Then I multiply it, make a movement with it, collaborate, and forge a new path with it. Find me T(Here) in spirit.–Karina Puente
Bernadette Smyth, Director
Bernadette Smyth is a graduate of New Mexico State University’s MFA program and is the recipient of the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction and two residencies at Hedgebrook. She is currently working on a novel told in vignettes. She has many years of experience working as a writer and editor of everything from dissertations to fiction, and has extensive experience in the human rights, nonprofit and educational arenas, including as director of development at Gemini Ink in San Antonio and for other nonprofits. She currently freelances as a grant writer and editor for nonprofits and publishers.
This photo is actually of my mother, on her honeymoon. I am constantly drawn to the stillness of the moment, the privacy suggested by it, the internal quality of it, and relate to that on a very basic level. Those are the places my creativity comes from; the places that protect my gypsy soul as I wander the earth; my solid boat in the still water. Those are the values that allow me to breathe deeply; to uproot over and over again and remain stable; simply, to create.–Bernadette Smyth