Commission for Women Members attend Strategic Planning Session September 2017
Pictured from left to right: Cynthia Cicero, Diane Fearon, Durette Candito, Jo Etta Brown, Brenda Hughes, Elisa Cafferata, Brooke Westlake, Debbie Mack (Not pictured - Richann Bender). Photo courtesy of Brooke Westlake, BMW Photography
Richann Bender, Commission Chair, Term 7/1/2016 - 6/30/2019
Richann is a retired City of Las Vegas employee with more than 27 years in public service. During her tenure Richann held a variety of positions in the City of Las Vegas.
Richann was a Senior Economic Development Officer in the Office of Business Development where she served as a liaison to the Downtown Cultural Corridor, Downtown Arts District/ First Friday and assisted in the development of these districts. Richann also played an important role coordinating with the entrepreneurs who established the Fremont East District. Richann was also responsible for securing the air rights for the City which was a critical factor in the construction of the Fremont Street Experience Canopy. She coordinated efforts to transfer the Downtown Post Office ownership from the federal government to the City Of Las Vegas which lead to the establishment of the Mob Museum. Richann also served as the Executive Director for the State Commission for the California-Nevada Super Speed Train (Maglev high speed rail project connecting Las Vegas to Anaheim, California).
Richann was transferred to the Office of the City Manager where she was instrumental in establishing the City’s Council Liaison office. Ultimately, she became the first official City Council Liaison assisting the City Manager and City Council in addressing constituent and Neighborhood Association requests and concerns. In this capacity she also coordinated with Metro in implementing the Downtown Community Policing program. In 1997 Richann was assigned as a City Lobbyist in Carson City for the 1997 State of Nevada Legislative Session.
In 2005 Richann was assigned to work on the 2005 Las Vegas Centennial Celebration, a year of commemorative activities. She helped develop and implement Downtown Las Vegas historic markers, coordinated “Once upon 100 Weddings” (arranging to marry 100 couples on Fremont Street), and coordinated financing for a Las Vegas float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Her efforts also helped recognize long-time Las Vegas families, to celebrate 100 year old residents, and to bring Las Vegas Centennial recognition to Washington D.C. Richann’s efforts also resulted in the reenactment of the famous Las Vegas Land Auction of 1905 and she assisted in building the “World’s Largest Birthday Cake.”
Richann’s passion is world travel, with her highlight having visited the seven continents including Antarctica. In her spare time Richann has appeared as an “extra” in several movies and commercials filmed in Las Vegas.
Brenda Hughes, Commission Vice-Chair, Term 7/1/2017 - 6/30/2020 (Second Term)
Brenda Hughes serves as a Senior Economic Development Specialist for the city of Las Vegas Economic and Urban Development Department (EUD). Her primary responsibilities include redevelopment projects, marketing and community relations for the EUD’s Redevelopment Division.
With an emphasis on creating jobs, the EUD coordinates efforts with the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency to promote and encourage new development and redevelopment throughout the city of Las Vegas, particularly in the downtown area. The EUD strives to increase and diversify the city’s economic base through business attraction, retention and expansion programs. It also works to reverse and eliminate urban decay.
A native of Clarinda, Iowa, Hughes began working for the city in November 2005. Prior to joining the city’s EUD team, she handled international marketing duties for the Travel Industry Association of America in London and the Nevada Commission on Tourism in Carson City.
Hughes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Nevada State College.
In her spare time, Hughes enjoys traveling throughout the United States and the world to experience new cultures, customs and cuisines.
JoEtta Brown, Term 7/1/2016 - 6/30/2019
Douglas County advocate and activist JoEtta Brown of Gardnerville was recently elected executive vice president of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
After 30 years of corporate banking experience and significant community involvement, JoEtta put her skills and interests to work with the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans in 2007, working as their Treasurer. JoEtta joined the Alliance Regional Board for the Western Region in 2010 and led trainings in the western states.
As a leader for the Alliance for Retired Americans Community Advocacy Network, JoEtta's professional skills have translated seamlessly into developing Alliance activists into leaders through trainings as well as forming community alliances.
When JoEtta began her career in banking, few women were found in management. She found herself advocating for equal pay while working in the executive offices at American Savings Bank.
JoEtta was appointed to the Mayors Council under Mayor Bradley in Los Angeles where she conducted community block grant funding and urban development projects.
She has testified before the United States Congress regarding Affordable Housing and Urban Development and had her work in the area of affordable housing referenced in the “Lending and Diversity” handbook used in the USC School of Business Management.
JoEtta also assisted with the creation of a community-based bank and helped to write over 275 business plans resulting in over $10 million in loans for small businesses. She served as the Governor of Soroptimist International of the Americas, Desert Coast Region, which services 62 clubs and over 2900 members and works to improve the lives of women and girls.
Most recently, as a Douglas County Planning Commissioner, she helped to determine age standards for seniors, resulting in the first affordable housing project for seniors in the area.
Elisa Cafferata, Term 7/1/2016 - 6/30/2019
Elisa is a fourth generation Nevadan and an unrepentant night owl.
She is currently the President & CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, where she handles education, policy and election work for the Planned Parenthood health centers in Nevada.
She co-founded the Nevada Teen Health and Safety Coalition (NTHSC) to bring together over 100 community organizations and individuals to fight for policies to protect teen health at the local and state level. The Coalition defeated the transgender-bathroom bullying bill in the 2015 legislative session and has gotten Storey, Lyon, Douglas, Washoe and most recently Clark (!) counties to update their sex education course work.
NAPPA is a founding member of the Nevada Coalition for Women’s Equity whose mission is to pass legislation to end the wage gap and address economic issues for women and families in Nevada. #equity4NV #MakeItWork
She thinks social networking is not quite as good as catching up over coffee, but close.
Durette Candito, Term 12/16/2015 - 6/30/2018
Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Durette always aspired to be a professional designer. By the age of 15, she was designing her own line of clothing and jewelry and published a catalog with her items for sale. At 22, she found herself with a storefront business employing 5 seamstresses, designing custom clothing as well as supplying local boutiques in Santa Fe and Albuquerque New Mexico with haute couture clothing lines. She has designed for many famous stars and recording artists including Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.
Always desiring to reach and professionally expand, Durette went to TVI in Albuquerque and completed the Architecture program. She worked at her own design business for a few years specializing in restaurants and commercial kitchens. She went to work for Gene Law at Charles David Interiors in Santa Fe. There, she honed her skills in Interior Design, as well as furniture design and manufacturing.
Durette worked almost 10 years for English Architect Malcolm Worby. Here she specialized in residential interior specification. She worked on more than 30 custom homes in Santa Fe and the surrounding area, including the Governors Mansion. Her love of decorative hardware was born, as she imported hardware from Italy and England for her clients. Durette has extensive knowledge in building “safe houses”. Homes that are free of chemicals and allergens for her clients that are allergic to the environment.
Ballroom dancing was always a passion for Durette, and she became a professional dancer and instructor. This led to her opening The Ballroom Dance Club studio in Santa Fe.
Upon moving to Las Vegas with her husband in 2001, Durette opened her design business, Durette Candito Design, LLC. Specializing in residential interior design and specification, she currently owns a design showroom as well, Urban Ranch General Store. The showroom carries door and cabinet hardware from around the world, lighting and interior accessories.
Always one to give back, Durette has volunteered and supported several charities throughout the years in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and now Las Vegas. She was an advocate for the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Center, as well as the Girl Scouts of America, and the Boys and Girls Club. Since moving to Las Vegas, she has been president of NEWH (raising scholarships for students in the hospitality industry), on the board for ALS of Nevada, and board member for the Las Vegas Arts District. She currently sits on the advisory board and is Editor for BLVDs H&D Magazine, and is Art Liaison for Forgotten Song Foundation (raising scholarships for students of music and art).
Cynthia Cicero, Term July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2020
Cynthia Cicero worked at the Clark County Department of Aviation at McCarran International Airport for 28 years where she administered the federally-mandated Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program to assist women and minority businesses seeking to do business at the airport. She also negotiated and administered airport concession leases. In 2007 she participated in the Clark County Leadership Program.
During her employment, she served on the Clark County Business Development Advisory Council; Nevada Minority Purchasing Council; Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) and received the Award of the Chair in 2005; and chaired the Airports Council International (ACI) Business Diversity Subcommittee. She led negotiations to develop the Nevada Unified Certification Program’s statewide DBE certification process. During her career she received the National Association of Women Business Owners Minority Business Advocate Award, the Small Business Administration Freedom Award, and Nevada Minority Purchasing Council Hall of Fame Award.
Cicero earned her BA and MA in History from UNLV with a focus on women’s history and public history. Her Masters Thesis was an examination of the significance of women’s civic organizations in Las Vegas. While at UNLV she received the Carol Corbett Award for her study of the Mesquite Club in Las Vegas and was inducted into the history honor society. Since retirement, she has been involved in several local community history programs in the areas of research, writing, and public speaking. In 2016 she received the Historic Preservation Committee Education Award for compiling and editing the book, 72 Years in Las Vegas, Dr. Sarann Knight Preddy
She currently serves as Secretary for the Women of Diversity, Inc. and is Acting Secretary for Family and Friends of Opportunity Village. She is a member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)
She is a 40 year resident of Las Vegas where she lives with her husband and daughter who has autism.
**Cynthia's portrait is provided courtesy of Brooke Westlake BMW Photography**
Diane Fearon, 12/16/2015 - 6/30/2018
Diane Fearon joined Nathan Adelson Hospice in a senior leadership position as Vice President for Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships in 2017. Nathan Adelson Hospice, the trusted partner in hospice care and palliative medicine for almost 40 years, is the largest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada, caring for an average of 400 hospice and palliative care patients daily. The mission of the hospice is to be the Hospice of Choice, the Employer of Preference and a Training Center of Excellence for comprehensive end of life care. Its vision is simple: no one should end the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain. The hospice also is home to The Center for Compassionate Care, a non-profit counseling agency providing individual, group and family counseling services to address grief, loss and issues related to surviving life-threatening illnesses.
Previously she served as the ATOP Director at HealthInsight Nevada. The Admissions and Transitions Optimization Program (ATOP) is a 4 year, $17 million grant funded by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) commencing in 2016 and going until 2020, related to the Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents. In Nevada, in addition to the ATOP program, HealthInsight is the CMS designated Quality Improvement Organization, manages the statewide Health Information Exchange and operates several other quality improvement-related programs.
Ms. Fearon has been in Las Vegas since 1979 and previously served as CEO of Communities In Schools of Nevada from 2013 until 2016, as well as spending 25 years in commercial banking between 1988 and 2013; including serving as the founding President/CEO of Bank of George, which was established in September 2007. Community involvement has always been a priority and her service includes the Nevada Commission for Women. Previously, Ms. Fearon served as Vice Chair of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s Host Committee as well as Vice Chair of Habitat for Humanity and as a member of the Nevada Public Radio Investment Committee, the Shade Tree Endowment Board and the Leadership Las Vegas Program. She is a 2001 graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School, a master’s level program in partnership with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Washington.
Debbie Mack, Term 7/1/2017 - 6/30/2020
Debbie Mack is a dynamic and thoughtful leader with a proven track record for group and individual success. She has been a Las Vegas resident since 1976 and has experienced the growth and development of this one of a kind city. Debbie is a proud mother of three boys. She is passionate about women, their individual success, and human rights.
Debbie is an officer for her Outstanding Voices Toastmaster group and she is a lead organizer for The A-team Nevada and organization which advocates for individuals with disabilities. Debbie has served as a member of a voluntary organization since 1996. She is currently the Chairperson of her intergroup and the Chairperson of the World Service Convention 2017. Intergroup organizes and manages over twenty one meetings in the Las Vegas area. Debbie is responsible for setting agendas, conducting meetings, and organizing and managing volunteers to create events.
Debbie’s service included Chairperson and Treasurer of the Young People’s Committee, Phone Chairperson for Central Office, and she has served as Intergroup Representative and Group Representative. She proudly served as the Chairperson for the Public Information Committee and is currently an Area Representative and Chairperson for the Area Assembly. Debbie has also initiated several meetings.
Debbie has an instinct for finding people’s strengths and utilizing them in the best way possible. She shows appreciation for the people she works with and is enthusiastic about being of service to people in need. She works diligently to focus on solutions and regularly shares her optimism and charismatic nature. Debbie has been given the gift of leadership through love. She believes that everyone has value and should be treated with dignity, honor and respect.
Alyson McCormick, Term 10/1/2017 - 6/30/2018
Alyson was raised in Spokane, Washington, where she attended Gonzaga University. She then moved to Eugene, Oregon, to attend and the University of Oregon School of Law. While there, she met her now-husband, Galen. Since moving to northern Nevada in late 2012, Alyson has worked as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Ron Parraguirre and a Deputy Attorney General, and is now an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Sparks. In her free time, Alyson enjoys raising pets Ginger and Cody (cat and dog, respectively), and exploring Nevada's beautiful outdoors on foot, skis, or a snowboard.
Brooke Westlake, Term 7/1/2016 -9/30/2019 - Second Term
Brooke has called Nevada home since 1989. She is a graduate from Wooster H.S., Truckee Meadows Community College, and the University of Nevada Reno. She holds an Associates of Arts Degree and a Bachelors of Liberal Arts in Criminal Justice, but spent a lot of time studying medicine. She is also a former Miss University of Nevada Reno for the Miss America Program.
Brooke has been heavily involved in the community since she was a little girl. While in high school she raised money for a fellow student who lost all her fingers and legs to bacterial meningitis. She volunteered often with different arts and children's programs in Reno. More recently, Brooke has become a champion in the fight against Alzheimer's after a judge appointed her as the guardian and conservator for her late Grandma Bev. Brooke is currently a volunteer Alzheimer's Advocate, volunteers with the Northern Nevada Northern California Alzheimer's Association Chapter, and provides free portraits to Alzheimer's patients.
Brooke has spent 20 years working within the healthcare and Criminal Justice sector. Brooke has worked at Computerized Screening since 2008, where she holds the position of Vice President of Sales. CSI, is leading the way from innovative health kiosk and telehealth services, a ground-breaking technology that provides greater access to care.
Having a deep connection to the Arts, Brooke started her photography business in 2009, called BMW Photography. She loves to photograph people, and her specialties include engagements, weddings, family portraits, senior photos, and pageant head-shots.
When Brooke is not working or volunteering she spends time with her husband Scott Kelley, who is an elected Washoe County School Board Trustee for District A. They have one son named Grant, a golden retriever named Sarah, and two cats, George and Earl. Together they love to spending time at Lake Tahoe or enjoy going to the movies.