10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Dana Lopez, 43

Lives in: Ozark, MO
CEO of Dogwood Ranch and Contracted Foster Parent Trainer for Children’s Division 
Charity: Dogwood Ranch

The woman who receives the most online votes and brings the biggest crowd to Indulge will donate a portion of the event proceeds to her local charity of choice. The winner will be announced at Indulge on October 3.

What is your local 417-land charity of choice, and why is it important to you? 

Dogwood Ranch: My husband and I, along with both sets of our parents, founded Dogwood Ranch, a local nonprofit that provides wraparound care for some of our community’s most vulnerable populations. Our family, while far from perfect, has been blessed with generations of love, stability, faith and a heart for the hurting, and we felt compelled to do something meaningful with that heritage of love. So, we started Dogwood Ranch with a dream in our hearts to ensure that all foster youth in our community could have a family to call their own and a safe connection to people who love them. To date, as a family and organization we have parented almost 40 foster youth, providing them with long-term care and family support that will carry them well into their adulthood. We are pleased to be kicking off a new program this year called The Haven, which will provide safe housing for former foster youth who are in crisis and need a connection to a community that can help them transition to adulthood safely. Additionally, out of our desire to help our local at-risk populations, we have developed a program that is special to my heart: Healing Reins Equine Therapy Program. This program was established to provide a unique therapeutic approach to kids and families who have walked through tremendous traumatic events in their lives and are needing some extra support as they journey towards wholeness. This trauma-informed program primarily serves foster and adopted children or youth who have come from abuse and neglect, as well as our honored military veterans and their families who have also experienced, in many cases, so much loss and difficulty. Restoring hope in the lives of the youth and families we serve is one of the things I love the most about Dogwood Ranch!  

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do?

In addition to my work with Dogwood Ranch, I also volunteer for a governor-appointed advisory board for foster and adoptive families. I also love the work I am able to do supporting and mentoring foster families in our area as they parent foster children and mentor biological families who are working to get their families safe and strong again.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

Passion for life! I am always so inspired by women who feel passionate about making a difference in their family, community, place of business, etc. and go after it with everything in them. That, to me, is beautiful. 

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of?

I think I am most proud of my kids, both those whom I birthed and those I didn’t. Watching them love hard and thrive despite difficult circumstances has brought me the greatest joy. They are my heroes. 

What was one particularly defining or life-changing moment in your life?

There have been many life-changing “moments,” but one season of life marked me in a way nothing else has, and that was when I spent a year in my mid-twenties working at a large orphanage in Mozambique, Africa. Experiencing the beauty of their culture and watching them find joy despite the extreme poverty and unspeakable tragedy that many experienced, changed me. It was in that season that I knew I wanted to give of myself on behalf of those who needed it most and push myself to make the most impact possible wherever I went in life. 

Bharat Shah MD FACS

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?

Hands down, my mom. She is the most beautiful, thoughtful, caring, warm, welcoming soul you will ever meet. I wish everyone could have a mom like mine. The world, no doubt, would be a much better place. 

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?

Simply put, I would just tell them they are beautiful. Beauty is about being unique and comfortable in your own skin and owning every flaw and perfection that makes you you. 

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?

Some might find it interesting to know that one of my favorite memories is when I bungee jumped over Victoria Falls. I can still hear my mom telling me, “Don’t tell me when you are doing these crazy things. Just call me when you are done!”  

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

My faith. I gain the most strength, wisdom and inspiration from the Lord as I lead my life in the best way I know how: to emulate his heart for those who need to know they are loved and created with incredible purpose. 

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?

Nature! And on the back of a horse. I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful area where exploring trails is at our fingertips.

What do you think is the biggest issue or challenge 417-land is facing right now, and how would you tackle it? 

Addiction and drug issues. This is clearly a very complicated issue, and I am extremely grateful to our community leaders, government agencies and law enforcement who are working hard to find creative solutions to this issue. Simply stated, in addition to minimizing access to these harmful illegal substances, I believe there also needs to be ample attention placed on the relational aspect of addiction and addressing the root of the issue. Expanding rehab programs and getting creative in the way those are accessed could go a long way, in my opinion, to providing long-term recovery for those suffering from addiction. 

Fill in the blank: Friends would describe you as “The _____ One.” 


See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on October 3 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.