Commission For Women


Commission for Women Members attend Strategic Planning Session September 2017
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, Constance Brooks, and Jennifer Lopez). Photo courtesy of Brooke Westlake, BMW Photography
Richann Bender, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019
Richann Bender, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019
National Association of Commissions for Women Board of Directors

Richann served as Chair of the Nevada Commission for Women from 7/1/2017-6/30/2018, after serving as the Commission's Vice-Chair. January 2018, Richann was elected to the National Association of Commission for Women (NACW) Board of Directors and has been selected by NACW's President to serve on the National Task Force 2020 project.


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. In her spare time Richann has appeared as an “extra” in several movies and commercials filmed in Las Vegas.

Constance J. Brooks, Ph.D. Term 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021
Constance J. Brooks, Ph.D. Term 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021

Dr. Constance Brooks is a seasoned public affairs leader with expertise in both the public and private sectors. Over the course of her career spanning two decades, Dr. Brooks has served as a county government legislative liaison, vice chancellor of a state higher education system and is now the Vice President of Regional Government Affairs for MGM Resorts International. In this role, she provides oversight and management of the MGM public policy agenda across eight states.

She received her doctorate in Public Affairs from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Her research emphasis was the nexus between public policy and identity in politics. Also, from UNLV, she received her master's degree in social work with concentration in administrative practice and planning. Dr. Brooks earned her bachelor's degree in Social Work from Southern Illinois University.

Dr. Brooks is an adjunct professor teaching research and public policy for the UNLV School of Social Work.

With roots in Illinois, Dr. Brooks was raised with the value of community service and giving back. As such, she as been involved in several community organizations to include Catholic Charities, Clark County Citizens Advisory Committee, Clark County Juvenile Justice Sister to Sister mentoring program, Nevada Humanities, UNLV School of Social Work Advisory Board, UNLV College of Urban Affairs Alumni Board, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

In 2018, Dr. Brooks was appointed by Governor Sandoval to serve on the Nevada Commission for Women. She was also appointed by the Las Vegas City Council to serve as a Trustee for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library Board.

She is the 2005 recipient of the UNLV Thomas Wilson Academic and Community Service Award. She is also the 2008 recipient of the Clark County New Generation Leadership Award. Dr. Brooks is a graduate of Emerge Nevada, Clark County Leadership Forum, and Leadership Las Vegas

JoEtta Brown, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019
JoEtta Brown, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019
National Association Commission for Women Board of Directors

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 to 6/30/2019
Elisa Cafferata, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019

Elisa is a fourth generation Nevadan and an unrepentant #nightowl.

She is currently owner of Cafferata & Co, a firm dedicated to inventing the future we want with government relations. #inventingthefuturebystarlight

In 2017, she teamed up with Clift & Co. to pass #SB398, the bill that put Nevada on the cutting edge of blockchain technology, the most transformational tech of our time. She is Reno Government Blockchain Association chapter leader. #BuildNewNV #FutureOfNV

For the last decade, she was Director of Government Relations with Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, where she handled education and policy work for Planned Parenthood's Nevada health centers.

She was recognized as the Public Health Advocate of the Year by the Nevada Public Health Association in 2017 and the Voice of Action by Advocates Mar Monte in 2015.

She serves as an Advisory Council member of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities in the area of health care policy. #policywonk

Elisa chaired the Nevada Commission for Women for 2016-17 and led the effort to update its authorizing statute and to create a voluntary Gender Equality Survey for corporations in Nevada. #womenleadNVsucceeds

Durette Candito, Term 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021 Second Term
Durette Candito, Term 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021 Second Term


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 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2020
Cynthia Cicero, Term 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2020


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, 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021 Second Term
Diane Fearon, 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2021 Second Term

Diane Fearon joined Lexicon Bank as President in May 2019.  She served as the founding President/CEO of Bank of George from 2007 to 2012 after having had executive level roles with Bank of Nevada, BankWest of Nevada and American Bank of Commerce.  Community banking is both a career and a passion for her.  Partnering with small to medium size businesses, professionals and nonprofit organizations to help them maximize their banking and prosperity, is truly rewarding to Diane.

Between 2013 and May 2019, she served in leadership positions in the nonprofit community including Executive Director for the Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation; ATOP Director for HealthInsight Nevada - a Medicare designated Quality Improvement Organization; and CEO of Communities In Schools Nevada - part of a national dropout prevention effort that increases the graduation rate in low-income, high-risk Nevada schools.

Ms. Fearon has been in Las Vegas since 1979 and community involvement has always been a priority.  Her service includes being appointed by Governor Sandoval to Chair the Nevada Commission for Women as well as membership on the HealthInsight Nevada Board. 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 HEALS Board, 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.

Diane loves to travel, and past adventures have included visiting the Base Camp at Mt. Everest, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands and Turkey.  She's married to Mike, with two wonderful adult step-children, a lovely daughter-in-law, two delightful grandchildren and three four-legged children.

Brenda Hughes, Term 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2020
Brenda Hughes, Term 7/1/2017 to 6/30/2020


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.

Jennifer Lopez, Term 8/9/2018 to 6/30/2020
Jennifer Lopez, Term 8/9/2018 to 6/30/2020
Senior Public Relations Account Executive, R&R Partners

With more than 14 years of public relations and political communications experience, Jennifer has worked with numerous clients across a variety of industries spanning from government, health care, consumer protection, and food, to develop and execute impactful corporate and grassroots communication programs.

As the senior public relations leader at R&R Partners, Jennifer personally directs a handful of companies in creating and implementing programs that have consistently met and surpassed client objectives.

Jennifer led the 280,000-member Health Services Coalition for three years and developed communication programs for American Medical Response and Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Furthermore, after only a few short months at R&R Partners, she was handpicked to chair the company's Employee Board Foundation, with a $1.6 million fund balance, across its nine-offices. The selection was a result of her work ethic and passion for ways to positively impact the community. Subsequent to completing a two-and-a-half-year term as chair, she joined the Public Education Foundation Board.

In 2018, Jennifer was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to serve on the Nevada Commission for Women.

Previously, Jennifer served as the public information officer for Nevada's attorney general's office, under Catherine Cortez Masto, where she developed, implemented, and coordinated all public outreach, website and information programs both internally and externally. Formerly, she served as the Nevada deputy political director for Obama for America, Nevada state director for Organizing for America (a project of the Democratic National Committee), and as the Nevada deputy press secretary for U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

Jennifer, the daughter of Colombian and Nicaraguan immigrants, earned a B.A. in communication studies and a minor in political science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and a M.A. in public communication from American University.

As a student at UNLV, she founded Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc. - Alpha Zeta Chapter, the first Latina community service sorority in Nevada; 15 years later, she remains active by providing guidance to the students of the thriving sorority.

A 22-year Las Vegas resident, Jennifer graduated from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce "Leadership Las Vegas" (class of 2014), a premier community leadership program in Southern Nevada. Jennifer enjoys volunteering for various nonprofits, camping, and spending time with her family.

Brooke Westlake, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019 - Second Term
Brooke Westlake, Term 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2019 - 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, and is currently working on a Graduate Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada, Reno. 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. She is a champion in the fight against Alzheimer's after a judge appointed her as the guardian and conservator for her Grandma Bev. Brooke currently volunteers as an Alzheimer's Advocate with the Northern Nevada Northern California Alzheimer's Association Chapter and provides free portraits to Alzheimer's patients.

Brooke has spent 18 years working within the healthcare and Criminal Justice sector. She has held positions as Vice President of Sales, Operating Room Surgical Tech, Private Investigator, Apartment Leasing Agent, ECG Specialist and Transcription Assistant.

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 in school, working or volunteering she spends time with her husband Scott Kelley, who is an elected official for Washoe County School Board Trustee for District A. They have a son Grant, with their second son on the way. The family has a golden retriever named Sarah, and a Russian Blue-mix named Earl. As a family, they love spending time at Lake Tahoe, traveling, and going to dinner and the movies.