Fire Heart Circle

Board of Directors & Executives

Darlene Chandler Bassett, Founder and WAVES Curator

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





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





Saranya Francis, Director

Saranya Francis is a multilingual poet penning poems in English, Hindi, and Tamil. She is a social activist, freelance life skills, language trainer, and diversity consultant. She has two anthologies of poems. Her poetry is featured in reputed anthologies. She is the recipient of the Bharat Award for Literature (2018), Rabindranath Tagore Award (2017), and National Chanting Bards Award (2017). She was conferred the Star Ambassador of World Poetry award at the World Poetry Conference in 2019. During the pandemic, Saranya hosted a virtual global gathering of leaders, writers, artists and students in collaboration with AROHO, and inspired a way forward for virtual and meaningful community, culminating in Global Camp Sisterhood.


In my art, I delve deeply into the lives of women, viewing them as the guardians of perspectives and the storytellers of our shared history. This connection is deeply personal to me; as a woman myself, I am fueled by the desire to ensure that voices like mine are regarded as serious chroniclers of our past. My creative process is a sacred journey guided by the wisdom of my creative matrons. They inspire and guide me through my writing, allowing me to be raw and candid in my expression. I recognize that I did not embark on this artistic journey alone; rather, I’ve been shaped by the inspiration and knowledge generously shared with me.


Carrie Nassif, Director

Carrie Nassif is a queer woman and AROHO alum from 2013, the year after her oldest left for college and she found enough headspace to begin to claim the time for herself to write and the permission to call herself a “real” poet, which was SUCH a huge step. Now, she invites YOU to take yourself and your interests seriously and encourages you to allow space to treat yourself playfully, too!

She is a creativity-centered life-coach and a clinical psychologist in private practice with specialties in diversity and mindfulness. She focuses on helping folx honor and embody their potential, and to live more intimately with a deeper sense of self in relation with others.

Although she has lived ALL OVER the US, Carrie has recently gotten all snuggled in just north of Taos, NM, where she also engages in a form of photographic meditation, sharing the beauty of everyday miracles on social media.

She is the author of “lithopaedion” a finalist in the Yes Yes Books Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest – poetry about mothering and parentified children – and of “vulture girl: necessary and sufficient conditions” a full length poetry manuscript/speculative memoir in which trauma is addressed through the discovery of inner guardians including: twin, rabbit, old stag, little wing, vulture, fawn, and tornado. And Carrie is currently writing and illustrating an oracle deck collection based on cyclical patterns more in keeping with natural patterns.


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