Women of Distinction honored during Women’s History Month

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“Where there is a woman, there is magic,” so stated award-winning American playwright, feminist and poet Ntozake Shange.

In Carson City, there are many strong, independent women creating magic by doing what they love while changing the world around them. During Women’s History Month, the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and its members are pleased to be able to recognize 10 Women of Distinction who stand out from the hundreds of magical women who make our community a special place to live.

The women being feted this year were recommended by the chamber board of directors based on their standing in the community for the impact they are making in their chosen field to create a better Carson City while serving as a role model for women to pursue their goals and dreams without limitations.

Created in 1978, Women’s History Month has nationally celebrated women instrumental in the continuing fight for women’s equality, justice, and opportunity worldwide. Since 2020, the chamber has formally recognized 32 amazing women.

The ten 2024 honorees of all ages have much in common when it comes to determination to succeed against all odds. Each has paid her dues in advancing her education and climbing the ladder while in many cases raising families. Each has weathered what needed to be done to successfully advance to the top – yet for some, there are rungs yet to climb. Most have graduated from or will soon graduate from the Chamber’s Leadership Institute further attesting to their commitment to a better Carson City.

Winston Churchill had these women in mind when he stated, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Kelly Brandon, Carson City supervising district attorney, oversees the juvenile division and is a voice for our youth. She is passionate about assisting kids and youth in transition to help them along their journey to leading successful lives.

This Carson High graduate knew she wanted to become an attorney to focus on this field and is recognized and respected among her peers for her dedication and knowledge. She is currently learning more about Carson City through her participation in the Chamber Leadership Class of 2024.

Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of educational services for the Carson City School District, is an esteemed educator that has always been committed to educational excellence and student success. She has held a number of leadership positions in various statewide schools after earning her master’s in educational leadership at UNLV.

She joined the Carson City School District in 2014 moving up the ladder and in 2019 became the associate superintendent of educational services. The Nevada Association of School Boards named her the 2023 District Level Administrator of the Year Impacting Student Achievement.

Niki Gladys, executive director of advancement for Western Nevada College, has made her mark by supporting and creating programs to fulfill employer demand of producing an educated workforce.

Through her leadership, the WNC Foundation annually awards over $825,000 in scholarships to 500 students. She has developed an innovative partnership with DETR to support local workforce development to empower WNC students toward meaningful employment opportunities and better lives.

Jenny Lopiccolo, entrepreneur and change agent, has made her mark in our city while raising a family of six children. In 1989, she opened her own real estate agency, Coldwell Banker Best Sellers, later incorporating a mortgage company that grew to six offices region-wide which she later sold to Coldwell Banker Select.

Through the years, she has mentored hundreds to become real estate professionals. She has been active on many city committees and was the impetus behind the development of the popular McFadden Plaza. Through the years, she has been a partner in her husband’s construction company. In July 2020, she opened and manages the popular Piazza Restaurant. She is a Carson High graduate and a graduate of the Chamber Leadership Class of 1992.

Sena Loyd is a community activist and former Carson City Library director, who was instrumental in overseeing the long-overdue revitalization of the library. Previously, she was the NDOT library manager and co-authored a book on the history of the Nevada State Prison in 2012.

She left the library world becoming the director of public policy at Blockchains in 2019. She is the volunteer president of the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada and serves as a commissioner on the Carson City Planning Commission. She is a graduate of the Chamber Leadership Class of 2016.

Marlene Maffei, executive director of the nonprofit Food For Thought, spends her time collecting and providing food for underserved Carson City school children who may not have enough nourishment to get them through the weekend.

She manages a cadre of volunteers to weekly pack non-perishable food in discreet backpacks for children in 16 schools. This mother of four has greatly expanded the program through her involvement since 2013 and today has grown to providing over 8,000 backpacks annually.

Kitty McKay, administrator of community and patient experience, has been an integral administrative team member of Carson Tahoe Hospital for the past 15 years. Her goal continues to be to make certain the needs of patients and the community are met when it comes to health care while fostering human connection, hope, and healing.

She co-owns the Nashville Social Club, a downtown restaurant and entertainment venue and serves on the Carson City Visitors Authority Board of Directors. She is passionate about connecting people and listening to their needs while sharing her own life journey which has led her to becoming a nationally acclaimed storyteller, TED talk speaker, and the author of two books on transformation.

Lisa Schuette, Carson City supervisor and founder of CASI, has always had a goal to make Carson City a better community for all, and this has been evident through her career path as a local sheriff’s deputy, juvenile probation officer, and health teacher for the Carson City School District.

Her love for animals led her to the founding of the nonprofit Carson Animal Service Initiative, affectionately known as CASI, that championed and raised funds for the local animal shelter. Through the efforts of CASI, over 1,000 pets of low-income families have been able to spay/neuter their animals. She is a Carson High graduate and graduate of the Chamber Leadership Class of 2014.

Elaine Barkdull Spencer, local entrepreneur, personifies the entrepreneurial spirit that led her to owning and managing 12 businesses over the years. She currently owns and manages Plato’s Closet and Le Visage Skincare Spa in the Carson Mall.

She also is a partner in the Carson-Tahoe Home Show and Sierra Women’s Expo. Prior to opening the two mall retail stores, she served as general manager of the V&T Railway for three years and was the director of the Adams Hub for Innovation helping others to start on their entrepreneurial journey.

Hope Sullivan, Carson City community development director, is a land development professional who has worked in the private and public sectors for over 35 years working with industry professionals to make good use of land according to the city’s master plan for the benefit of the overall community.

She is respected by the building community for her vast knowledge and experience and oversees all private development of land including within redevelopment zones. As the department director, she also oversees the business license and code enforcement divisions. She is a current student of the Chamber Leadership Class of 2024.

These women serve as role models and their many accomplishments are not just confined to the advancement of women; they are dedicated to the advancement of all while enhancing our quality of life. Former associate justice of the supreme court Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” She should know!

The 2024 honorees are truly not the exception in their fields or in our community and are all strong women who don’t let adversity affect their career goals or personal life. We salute these and all strong women who make a difference.

As of 2022, women comprise 56.8 percent of the workforce and are all creating magic. You go girls!


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