Commission For Women


Elisa Cafferata, Commission Chair, 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.
Richann Bender, Commission Vice-Chair, Term 7/1/2016 - 6/30/2019 - Second Term
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.
Colleen Baharav, Term 8/24/2015 - 6/30/2017
Colleen was born and raised in the Midwest and moved to Nevada in 2009. She graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a dual degree in History and Political Science. She subsequently went to law school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In 2009, Colleen took a job with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas, Nevada. For two years, she worked as a law clerk in the Appellate Division, assisting with appellate briefs and post-conviction motions. She also coached mock trial for high school students at Faith Lutheran High School. In 2011, she was hired on as a Deputy District Attorney beginning on a general litigation team before moving to the Domestic Violence Unit in 2013. While in the Domestic Violence Unit, Colleen’s passion for helping victims of domestic violence really developed. She encountered many women in the community and saw how a dearth of education and resources could really affect a woman’s ability to survive abusive relationships. She is excited about helping the women of Nevada on a broader scale.

In her free time, Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband and catching up on her reading.
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.


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).
Diane Fearon, 12/16/2015 - 6/30/2018
Diane Fearon is the Admissions and Transitions Optimization Program (ATOP) Director at HealthInsight Nevada. The 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. The 14 selected facilities throughout the State of Nevada will receive additional clinical intervention resources as well as incentive payment programs to implement the improvement model. There is a team of 17 professional staff dedicated to achieving the goal of reducing avoidable hospitalizations in order to improve the quality of care provided to the residents of the facilities and to increase the cost effectiveness of the care provided. HealthInsight is a private, nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to improving health and healthcare. It operates in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. 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 service includes the Shade Tree Endowment Board and the Leadership Las Vegas Program. 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, Las Vegas. 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.
Brenda Hughes, Term 12/16/2015 - 6/30/2017
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.

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.
Allison Stephens, Term 8/24/2015 - 6/30/2017
Anna Thornley, Term 12/16/2015 - 6/30/2018
Anna was raised in New Jersey and moved to Nevada in 2006. She gradated from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia in 2003 with a degree in political science and a minor in Spanish. She earned her Master of Arts from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2007.

Anna began her career working in state government as a policy analyst for the Governor's Office in 2009. She then spent five years working as a Senior Research Specialist for the Nevada Gaming Commission where she worked closely with gaming regulators and industry leaders to legalize online gaming in Nevada in 2013. In 2015 Anna became the President of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, a statewide organization that lobbies for responsible government at a reasonable price.

During her time at the Gaming Commission, Anna served as a member of the Education Scholarship Committee for the Global Gaming Women branch of the American Gaming Association. Prior to her appointment to the Commission for Women, Anna served as a member of the Board of Registered Environmental Health Specialists.

Anna and her husband, Doug, live in Reno with their four children and two dogs. They enjoy traveling, sports and spending time outdoors.
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 degrees in Art and 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 her 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 for multiple market segments for 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 specialists include engagements, weddings, family portraits, senior photos, and pageant head-shots.

When Brook is not working or volunteering she spends time with her husband Scott Kelley, their son Grant, golden retriever Sarah, and maine coon cat George. Together they love to spend as much time as they can at Lake Tahoe.