ICYMI: Top-20 Powerful Women honored before crowd of 700 in Reno

Traci Davis, superintendent of Washoe County School District, with the 2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Community Leader Award.

Traci Davis, superintendent of Washoe County School District, with the 2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Community Leader Award.

RENO, Nev. — Female empowerment was in full force Wednesday, May 30, as over 700 guests gathered at the Atlantis Resort Spa Casino for the Northern Nevada Business View’s 2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman Awards. ========== MORE: Click here for a full photo gallery from the May 30 awards luncheon. ========== Kirsten McGregor, Reno General Manager for the Sierra Nevada Media Group, inspired the event, in conjunction with creating Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman magazine, which published the same day and serves as the newest publication dedicated to supporting regional women and girls in their professional endeavors. “This event recognizes all aspects of power: integrity, purpose, justice, awareness, knowledge, passion, courage, compassion, kindness, creativity, connection and perseverance…” McGregor told the crowd to kick off the May 30 awards luncheon. “… (Power] is not just held by an elite few — each and every one of you is powerful and has the ability to enact change.” In addition to honoring several local females, the NNBV sponsored tables for three organizations working with girls and young women: Girl Scouts Sierra Nevada, students from Washoe County Schools and young women from the Nevada Youth Empowerment Project. Those were just three tables among many within the Paradise Ballroom packed with all kinds of strong, poised women, supported by colleagues, men and children who fiercely encourage their success. Tables of people were buzzing with excitement ahead of the ceremony, every inch of standing room occupied by women networking, congratulating one another and even becoming teary-eyed at the show of profound support. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve took to the stage for the opening address, saying she felt blessed to be among so many trailblazing women in a city predominantly led by women — with renegades at the helm of business from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, to NV Energy and the Reno City Manager, to name a few.

An absolute honor and humbling experience. When nominated amongst 175 women. I was pretty surprised! When I made it to top 40 I was completely shocked. I mean really! Who I am as a Gym owner, coach/trainer to be amongst these entrepreneurs, movers and shakers, philanthropists who are creating a community to be proud of! I didn’t expect to hear my name today! But when I did the emotions were big! HUGE! Top 10 life moments! To all the girls out there dreaming, girl, you got this!!!! Just go for it!!! That room was filled with women with big dreams, big ideas, big hearts and big impact! And I’m one of them! Me! Yes I cried! Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! I’m blessed more than I deserve!❤️ #nnbw #snpowerfulwomen #evokefitness #entrepreneur #smallbusinessowner #ladyboss #biggestlittlecity #northernnevadabusinessweekly

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Renowned branding expert Liz Goodgold delivered the event’s keynote address, challenging the audience to identify their personal brand with the question: “What makes you innately, you?” She spoke about moving across the country years ago from New York to California, when she had one of her biggest learning lessons.

Rock Star ? Dr Erin Oksol! #snpowerfulwomen #inspirereno #renorising #teterougeinteriors

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She didn’t like her beautiful, naturally red hair and fair skin, she shared, so she grabbed a bottle of baby oil, a bottle of Sun-In and a reflector shield and headed for the roof of her family’s apartment building to transform herself into a California blonde with a rocking tan. “After paying homage to the sun gods for four hours, I was burned so badly I could see the welts forming, and my mother said, ‘what were you thinking?’” Goodgold said. “I just wanted to be like everyone else, and she said, ‘you’re never going to be like anyone else.’”
The master brander credited her mother for launching her career and embracing the brand called “me.” Embracing your personal brand can be scary, and Goodgold says it takes courage — or, “vagones” (a play on “cojones”) — to accomplish, but once you do, you move deeper from surface-level conversations and connect better with others. After Goodgold’s inspiring keynote, awards were announced. Winners accepted their honors, thanked their families and colleagues, and shared words of wisdom that they would have advised their 20-year-old selves.
“Always go for the next promotion even if you don’t think you’re qualified. Self-doubt stands in the way of opportunities, be your own biggest supporter,” said Debby Herman, senior vice president and regional manager of Nevada State Bank. When Valerie Glenn, CEO of The Glenn Group, accepted her award, her words of wisdom to her younger self were to take time for self-care, as it’s easy to get wrapped up in building your career — it may feel frivolous, but will contribute to success in the long run.
“This is an amazing city we have, filled with amazing women — and men, by the way,” she said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the interactions and relationships over my career.” Glenn also pointed to more recent studies showing better financial results and fewer governance issues with women at the helm of business, saying, “I would highly recommend that leadership management teams have a significant number of women, because it could make a difference in your bottom line and business results,” to which the room burst into applause. One-by-one, each woman shared inspiring words, whether they realized they were inspiring the room or not. Mena Spodobalski, founder of Evoke Fitness Training Facility, shared with the audience her story of being a little immigrant girl from Africa whose parents came to the U.S. after the Civil War. “I was a little girl in the San Francisco airport who didn’t speak any English and I told my dad I wanted to speak that beautiful language,” she said. “I never thought I would be standing here, as a powerful woman, accepting this award in Reno.” Much of the advice from the impressive women to their younger selves encouraged them to slow down, take it all in and not worry about the future — saying it’s better than they could possibly imagine. During the award announcements, many of the winners used their platform to shed light on causes most dear to them, including Melissa Holland, cofounder and executive director of the nonprofit Awaken. “Age 12-14 is the average age for those entering prostitution,” Holland said. “And 1,500 women and children are trafficked in Northern Nevada a month.” Holland shared her story of addiction and said that the pain she endured at age 20 fueled her mission to help as many others in the same situation as possible through Awaken. “Everyone, use whatever power that is within you to unveil the power for the disenfranchised,” she advised the audience. Other women spoke on behalf of the invaluable life coaching that comes with membership in Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada, and how becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister can completely change the life of the youth you are mentoring. And no matter the message being shared or advice being bestowed, one thing was resoundingly clear throughout the 2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman Awards — each of these women is personally motivated by the causes for which she stands, passionately advocating for positive change and carrying out good work, each day. ========== And the Winners Are… The 2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman Awards honored Sierra Nevada Top-40 Powerful Women finalists — each of whom were spotlighted for their powerful voices, accomplishments and mentorship of young leaders — before announcing the Top-20 Powerful Women winners. Additionally, several special awards were presented to a bevy of powerful women to celebrate their exemplary achievements and commitment to the region. The full winners list is below: 2018 Sierra Nevada Top-20 Powerful Women:
  • Sarah Johns: public relations, Blockchains; former KOLO 8 news anchor
  • Debby Herman: senior vice president/regional manager, Nevada State Bank
  • Cindy Carano: executive director, Community Relations at Eldorado Casino Resorts; philanthropist
  • Claudia Andersen: CEO, Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation
  • Valerie Glenn: CEO, The Glenn Group
  • Mena Spodobalski: founder, Evoke Fitness Training Facility
  • Jennifer Rogers Markwell: investment advisor, Fidelity Investments; Girl Scouts of the Sierra board member
  • Erin Oksol, PhD: owner, Massive Business Success Coaching
  • Debbie McCarthy: co-founder, Bliss Babe magazine; owner About Town Deb
  • Kate Patay: owner, Patay Consulting
  • Amy Lessinger: broker/owner, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates
  • Melissa Holland: co-founder and director, Awaken
  • Lisa Schuette: chairwoman, Carson Animal Services Initiatives; board
  • Nancy Fennell: president, Dickson Realty
  • Erin Krug: director, Global Process Management, Microsoft Business Operations
  • Doreen Mack: owner Lofty Expressions interior design; spearheaded renovation of downtown Carson City
  • Angela Handler: owner, LoKa Tile Group; co-founder, LoKa Cares; board, Sparks Heritage Museum and 39 North Downtown
  • Clara Andriola: executive director, Reno Rodeo Foundation
  • Angila Golik: teacher, Carson High School; 2015 Nevada’s Best FBLA Adviser
  • Jessica Schneider: owner, Junkee Clothing Exchange, Visionary Reno, and Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches
2018 Sierra Nevada Young Woman of Power honorees:
  • Kimberly Tran: TMCC Associate of Science graduate, salutatorian of her class, president of TMCC Student Government Association, and Regent Scholar set to attend Stanford University.
  • Liliana Cueva: UNR Community Health Sciences and Spanish student, NYEP program navigator, Women and Children’s Center of the Sierras intern, You(th) Matter Now mentor, and Renown Ronald McDonald Room volunteer.
  • Maxine Grieve: Gold Award Girl Scout, engineer and manufacturer of a specialized seed-planting tool to rehabilitate burned mule deer habitats, TMCC High School graduate, set to attend UNR’s College of Engineering.
2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Matriarchs:
  • Judy Haar: Nuclear Chemist for over 20 years in a male-dominated field, she was one of three women in her field. Haar worked in data center design and construction, branding and merchandising for financial institutions. She is an author, and created the iconic stagecoach branding for Wells Fargo. She currently helps over 400 small businesses through SCORE.
  • Kay Bennett: Restored and expanded the once-abandoned Silver Springs Airport, now a gem of Lyon County. Previously she was a registered operating room nurse, served three terms on the Carson City Board of Supervisors, is a licensed pilot, mother of five, grandmother of 12 and great grandmother of one.
  • Ann Ronald: UNR teacher of more than 30 years in nature writing, American and British literature, chair of the English Department, acting dean of the Graduate School and dean of the College of Arts and Science. She is an inductee of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, award winner, and a founder in the field of ecocriticism.
2018 Sierra Nevada Powerful Community Leader Award:
  • Traci Davis: superintendent of the second largest school district in Nevada, serving more than 64,000 students and 2011 Nevada National Distinguished Principal Award recipient.
2018 Sierra Nevada Top-10 Women of Exemplary Achievement:
  • Pamela Czyz: CEO, Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada
  • Nancy McCormick: Senior VP Retention, Expansion and Workforce Development, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN)
  • Karin Hilgersom, PhD: President, Truckee Meadows Community College
  • Kristen Averyt, PhD: President, Desert Research Institute
  • Marily Mora: President/CEO, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority
  • Mary Simmons: VP of External Affairs, NV Energy
  • Stephanie Kruse: Founder, KPS3 Marketing
  • Hillary Schieve: Mayor, City of Reno
  • Liza Maupin: CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada
  • Joey Orduna Hastings: CEO, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Cassandra Walker is a special assignments reporter for Sierra Nevada Media Group. She can be reached at cwalker@swiftcom.com.


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