Carson City women recognized for making a difference

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce recognized “Carson's Extraordinary Women” during a luncheon on Wednesday.

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce recognized “Carson's Extraordinary Women” during a luncheon on Wednesday.
Ronni Hannaman

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Carson City Chamber recognized a dozen extraordinary women who are making history today at a special luncheon held at the Gold Dust West on Wednesday. Cliff Sorensen, director of Campagni Auto Group, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Women’s History Month officially was recognized as a national celebration in 1987. Annually the sitting president issues a proclamation designating March to honor women and their contributions to the overall good of the nation. President Joe Biden recognized those who fought for women’s rights by proclaiming, “throughout history, women have opened the doors of opportunity for subsequent generations of dreamers and doers.”

Some of the women honored by the Chamber were an integral part of advancing the rights of women allowing others also honored to break the glass ceiling becoming the first women in their field to advance to positions always held by men.

The official definition of breaking a glass ceiling refers to the “discriminatory barriers that prevent women from rising to positions of power or responsibility and advancing to higher positions within an organization simply because they are women,” so wrote scholars Lan Li and R. Leung.

Three Carson City women honored who have broken the glass ceiling after much hard work and patience include Michelle Joy, president and CEO of Carson Tahoe Health, Lori Bagwell, mayor of Carson City, and Kristin Luis, Carson City justice and municipal court judge in department 2. All hold the distinction of being the first females to hold their titles.

After college, Joy made it her purpose to advance in the field of medical management and in any hospital she worked, she quickly advanced to the top in her field. She began her journey to the top at Carson Tahoe Health in 2015 when she was hired as vice president and chief operating officer. She oversees multiple health facilities staffed by over 2,000 employees.

Bagwell was elected the first female mayor Carson City taking office in 2021 after serving on the Board of Supervisors since 2015. There have been 41 male mayors since 1875. An aggressive campaigner and a fiscal conservative, Bagwell makes it her daily mission to oversee every aspect of running the city, understanding not everything is within her power to fix. Operating under an open-door policy, she welcomes local input.

Luis has an impressive resume in the legal field and has served as the Carson City assistant district attorney since 2015 prior to being elected as the first female to serve as Justice of the Peace taking office in 2019. Her passion is helping youth find their way after appearing in her courtroom.

Women in the Arts who have and continue to make a difference in the city’s growing arts community were honored because of their tireless pursuit to showcase the area’s artistic talent and to allow children to find their voice through performance and music.

Stephanie Arrigotti has been a household name in the theater arts arena since she began the music and theater program at Western Nevada College in 1977. She has been the producer and director – and sometimes actor – in 107 musicals of the Western Nevada Musical Theater showcasing local talent that continue to gain rave reviews. Musical America has honored her as one of the nation’s top 30 professionals in the performing arts for 2019.

Elinor Bugli can be seen anywhere there’s music playing. She and husband David were instrumental is bringing symphonic music Carson City in 1984. Her contributions are many with emphasis on teaching youth the power of music through the formation of the Symphony Youth Strings, the free after school program started in 2004 to teach pupil in grades 2-5 how to play string instruments. You’ll see Bugli wherever the Mile High Jazz Band plays and as a violinist performing in the Carson City Symphony along with a side gig as a violinist with Silver Strings.

Carol Scott has made it her mission to teach children up to the age of 17 to love theatrical arts through performing in her over 300 productions. She has been the executive director of Wild Horse Children’s Theater for the past 11 years. Many of her productions have received the coveted Freddie G awards, with the most recent Freddie G Award presented at the 2023 Junior Theater Festival held in Sacramento. She was recognized as one of Northern Nevada’s Most Powerful Women in 2018 and received the Mayor’s Art Award in 2019.

The non-profit field is the field many caring women choose to help their fellow humans thrive in a sometimes hostile world.

Joyce Buckingham has been served many families during her employment at Ron Wood Resource Center, first as a family advocate before becoming their very popular executive director in 2006. Today, the center has grown under her management serving more than 1,200 clients monthly through management of the WIC program, food bank, parenting classes, workshops and the coordination of the annual Toys for Tots Campaign.

Lisa Lee, executive director of Advocates to End Domestic Violence, has been helping abused women and children find their path to recovery since 1986 starting with only a four-plex center that soon will become a state-of-the-art 51-bed shelter to be built on the expanding campus now home to the Classy Seconds Thrift Store, their office, and a resource center.

Susan Sorenson has a passion for those truly down and out hoping to provide some relief to their lives. She is the executive director of Northern Nevada Dream Center she co-founded in 2010 with like-minded individuals. Today, the center serves 1,000 client monthly providing job training, food, clothing and more.

Women in government have excelled, rising to the top in positions once reserved for males. They have proven they are capable of running every facet of government.

Ali Banister is the third in her family serving as chief of Juvenile Services, following in the footsteps of her grandfather Dan Murphy and her mother Sheila Banister. She has extensive education and experience in serving the children who come through the Murphy-Bernardini Regional Detention Center. Her mission is to restore their mental well-being. Banister has earned a Ph.D. from Walden University where she serves as a part-time professor.

Nancy Paulson is second female city manager taking over the reins in 2018 after serving as the city’s chief financial officer until becoming deputy city manager in 2017. She oversees 11 departments and over 944 full and part-time employees. She reports to the elected board of supervisors.

Courtney Warner has been serving Carson’s seniors as the executive director of the city’s senior center since 2015. She is responsible for creating a welcoming atmosphere where seniors can enjoy the many programs offered by the center including a nourishing meal five-days a week. Those not ambulatory are served through the Meals on Wheels program.

Also honored was Kathi Gore, banquet supervisor, employed at Gold Dust West for more than 18 years. “Her passion for the industry and commitment to delivering exceptional service has made her an invaluable member of our team,” said Mike Jones, Gold Dust West general manager.


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

Sign in to comment