Maxine Neitz may best be recognized for the cowboy hat she wears to functions throughout Carson City, yet she's anything but a cowgirl.

Many know Nietz through her high-profile work with Nevada Business Connection. As a member of the economic development group's advisory board, she handles email missives and member database. She also dons the signature cowboy hat and works the high-energy meet-and-greet post as members arrive to the monthly breakfast meeting.

But she's not high energy all the time.

"Those are the two sides of me," says Nietz. "When I'm programming at the computer, I don't even like to have music on." Yet she can shed the tight focus when it's time to excite the students she teaches at

Western Nevada College.

Along with her energy, Nietz is known for her signature cowboy hat.

"People now say, I didn't recognize you without your hat," says the native of New York City and one-time employee of the police department in the Big Apple.

"A lot of people have come here because they wanted to change from their home place," she observes.

Her first foray into the Nevada's high desert came when Nietz took a train to northern Nevada to get

married (Her husband, Fred, operates The Arlington Group, a special events planning business.)

Back home in the Bay area, the couple fell victim to crime break-ins at their house and truck and a

job transfer meant a longer commute through East Bay traffic.

Reno seemed a likely alternative.

"But we didn't want to trade one big city for another," says Nietz. Carson City felt just right, and Neitz has repaid her new hometown with volunteer service on its library board and planning commission.

A year after the couple's move, in 1990 she launched Carson City Computing, and continues to provide one-day service to clients.

"I grew with the industry," she says. "My first clients were accountants and bookkeepers trying to use the office computer." The firm has since added industrial clients and small manufacturing firms.

"I support a small but loyal clientele," Nietz says; and is beginning to land jobs from Indian casinos as well.

Nietz learns of potential new jobs from her network of equipment vendors.

She got her start in computers while employed by AT&T when the move from electrical to electronic was under way. The corporation offered extensive employee training onsite, on company time. She took full


AT&T had wanted to grow its own employees and broaden the employee base, she recalls. And the newly deregulated company wanted to develop people who could operate in a broad arena.

Along the way, Nietz worked in aerospace becoming the first woman to be a mission controller during the early flights of Viking and Voyager.

"I'm proud to have been a groundbreaker for other women," says Nietz. "When I first went on the air, some of the men in the control room were flabbergasted. But it just took working that one shift and then everything was OK."

She was a groundbreaker from the get-go, pursuing a degree in civil engineering.

"The toughest time I've had in technology was in college, Nietz says. "I was the only woman in class. I had some difficulty with classmates thinking I was getting special treatment and grades, when in fact, the instructors would mark me down half a grade. When I protested: 'I earned that A!' the professor said he didn't want the guys to be upset."

These days, she's learning about the next big thing in computers mobile computing that's allowing users to tap into their home and office computers from anywhere in the world.

She says it's all part of the excitement of working in an industry that thinks outside of the box and outside of the cubicle.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment