Our 10th annual “Women to Watch” section recognizes 12 women whom we believe are going to make a difference in the coming months.
This year’s honorees were chosen by a panel who have a unique perspective on the honor: a group of last year’s Women to Watch reviewed all the nominations and offered their top choices. They chose leaders in business, law and philanthropy. It’s an esteemed group of women that VEGAS INC is honored to profile.
Executive Vice President, Human Resources Division
Nevada State Bank
As a female executive in the largely male-dominated banking industry, Jill Bell is creating leadership opportunities for women at Nevada State Bank.
This year she plans to evolve the Women’s Executive Book Club, which she founded in 2016 with Shannon Petersen, statewide corporate banking manager. Recently redubbed the Executive Women’s Group, the group offers professional development for female colleagues. In 2017, the group will offer guest speakers, online resources, case studies and mentoring opportunities.
“The women’s leadership initiative is a big focus for me — of the eight people on our executive committee, only two are women,” said Bell, who joined Nevada State Bank as human resources director in 2013, having worked in human resources at the Golden Nugget since 1998.
Bell is also hoping to evolve the bank’s colleague career development initiative, which she spearheaded two years ago. The initiative provides a framework that the bank’s 640 statewide employees use to establish their goals and stay on track.
Bell is responsible for the bank’s learning and development team, which in 2017 will further support business growth by establishing learning resources to increase small-business client relationships, strengthen partnerships with sales managers and create opportunities for all bank colleagues.
“This year we are focusing on prospecting and growing the professional coaching program, which we started last year,” Bell said.
— Danielle Birkin
Renee Coffman, Ph.D.
Roseman University of Health Sciences
Since taking the reins in 2011 as president of Roseman University of Health Sciences, which she co-founded in 1999, Renee Coffman, Ph.D., has continued to expand the private, not-for-profit university, which had its genesis as a small pharmacy school.
Today, Roseman locally offers a pharmacy college, a nursing college, a college of dental medicine and a MBA program. The school has a campus in South Jordan, Utah, that offers that state’s first doctorate of dental medicine program.
Coffman’s latest venture revolves around the establishment of Roseman’s College of Medicine, with a current push in pursuit of accreditation for the M.D. program.
“We started exploring the feasibility of a college of medicine five years ago, and acquired a building, and a strong faculty and research base, and hired a well-qualified dean, and are on a mission to raise the funds to make the college a reality,” said Coffman, who is also overseeing related expanded patient care services and hopes to launch the college in the fall of 2018 or 2019.
Additionally, under her leadership, the university is increasing its efforts to combat prescription drug misuse and abuse, an effort she said was spearheaded by the College of Pharmacy 10 years ago.
“But now, we’re taking it a step further, and have developed a specialized survey for high school students to get a handle on their perceptions and misperceptions, and identify reasons kids might use a drug so we can better prevention programs,” she said, adding that a pilot program is under way at Green Valley High School.
— Danielle Birkin
De Castroverde Law Group
Jocelyn Cortez has been a champion for immigrants in Nevada her entire career and, as an expert in immigration law, has won several awards. In addition to being tapped for her knowledge and frequently interviewed and quoted by Spanish- and English-language media outlets throughout the United States, she has volunteered countless hours as part of her ongoing commitment to the community.
Cortez will intensify that commitment in 2017, continuing to give free seminars on basic immigration law wherever it is needed, volunteering in numerous free workshops and supporting efforts to protect Dreamers and keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from being destroyed. Her plan is to provide more community education and community service to the immigrant community through workshops and classes. In addition to her volunteer efforts, Cortez, who leads the immigration practice group at De Castroverde Law Group, is looking to grow the firm’s immigration clientele in 2017.
“I am especially happy to see how the immigration practice group at De Castroverde Law Group has grown in the last two years,” Cortez said. “In 2016, we helped more clients than ever before legally integrate themselves into the U.S. We have also surpassed our prior years’ numbers in being retained to defend people in immigration court. I owe this growth to the exceptional team members I have had the pleasure to assemble. Each of our staff truly cares about our clients and works incredibly hard to help our clients achieve their goals.”
— Howard Riell
An acknowledged leader in both the legal and business communities, Armstrong Teasdale partner Tracy DiFillippo has been consistently recognized for both her professional acumen and volunteer activities. Earlier this year, she was honored by the State Bar of Nevada as Volunteer of the Year and will represent the state bar in the American Bar Association House of Delegates, the ABA’s policy-making body, this month at the ABA mid-year meeting. She was also named to Nevada Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite.”
DiFillippo is the co-founder and chairwoman of the State Bar of Nevada’s Litigation Section, the fastest-growing section in the bar. She was recently reelected to her sixth term as chairwoman. In addition to her practice, Tracy has been growing the firm’s Professional Advancement of Women program in the Las Vegas office, where one-third of the lawyers are women.
DiFillippo believes in giving back to the community, providing pro bono services to Nevada Legal Services and participating in Partners in Pro Bono, through which she serves as a mentor to law students. She also handles cases from the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which honored her with the Vince Consul Memorial Pro Bono Award.
DiFillippo touts the importance of perseverance. “I always tell my son that the word can’t is not in our vocabulary. It’s really always been my philosophy in life. I was one of the first in my family to go to college, and I wouldn’t let anything bring me down. I never see any situation as a dead end. There’s always a way.”
— Howard Riell
Souzan El-Eid, MD FACS
Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada
As a breast surgeon at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, Dr. Souzan El-Eid is on the forefront of cancer research and procedures in Southern Nevada. The current president of the Clark County Medical Society, she treats cancer-related and non-cancer related diseases of the breast.
El-Eid also serves as the director of Summerlin Breast Care Center at Summerlin Hospital, helping patients connect with the most comprehensive and advanced breast cancer screening and diagnostic services. She serves as co-chairwoman of the hospital’s Cancer Committee and Breast Tumor Board and has worked alongside the Cancer Committee to expand the facility’s cancer program, including adding a palliative care program and providing advanced screening tools for lung cancer.
A good chunk of El-Eid’s time has been devoted to her presidency with the CCMS. “Our new building is up and has been running since mid-December 2016. It is the hub for Clark County Medical Society members, the community and the public.”
Education has been her top priority with CCMS. “In 2016, we brought a number of symposia and opportunities to life focused on such subjects as marijuana, robotics, MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 ) and MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment System). We collaborated with the governor of Nevada on the opioids crisis issue. We have more in the works for 2017.”
Her advice to fellow women professionals? “Love what you do and do what you love. It becomes natural, coming out of the heart, a pleasure to do and not ‘work.’ ”
— Howard Riell
Founder / Lead Consultant
When Nadia Hansen emigrated from Pakistan to Southern Nevada in 1999, she was forced to start from scratch.
“I came here penniless with an art degree in textile design from Pakistan, but I realized there was no market here and I was going to die hungry, so I switched gears and found something more futuristic,” said Hansen, who juggled several jobs to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science from UNLV.
With a knack for programming and implementation of business intelligence and software solutions, Hansen worked in IT for the public and private sectors — including the gaming industry across the U.S. — until 2015, when she broke free from the cubicle and founded Result Logix, a women- and minority-owned consulting firm that focuses largely on technology modernization and innovation initiatives.
Since then, she has been engrossed in a multimillion governmental software-implementation project involving multiple agencies. She is leading the transformation of a paper-based organization to a streamlined digital business that will eventually serve as a national model.
Although Result Logix is currently a solo operation in the U.S., with Hansen the only full-time employee, she has a partner in Canada and plans to grow the company when the current government project is completed.
“I hope to expand by 2018 and hire more analysts and project managers so we can offer more services,” said Hansen, a firm proponent of the American Dream. “I came here with nothing and now I’m a small-business owner, because there are so many opportunities to succeed.”
— Danielle Birkin
Director of Food & Beverage Marketing
Westgate Las Vegas
TaChelle Lawson has become an integral team member and vital part of the expansion of the food and beverage program at Westgate Las Vegas.
“My greatest accomplishment of 2016 was stepping out of my comfort zone and into the unknown,” Lawson said. “In my prior position, I’d hit a wall and was no longer growing. While I loved it, I knew I had to move on, which is never easy to do, especially when you’re content. I’m now in a position I was born to be in: I research food and beverage trends, guest patterns and multi-unit marketing from casual to fine dining.”
The move turned out to be the best decision of the year, she adds, “as I’ve learned and accomplished significantly more than I expected in such a short amount of time. It’s also turned out to be my favorite decision of 2016.”
The property’s director of food & beverage marketing has been asked to hire a mixologist and develop a new beverage program; create a new brunch menu for Sid’s Café at Westgate Las Vegas; rebrand the catering and banquet department by developing new menus, smallwares and collateral; finalize James Beard Award nominations for two Westgate Las Vegas chefs; and energize and update the branding perception from a restaurant, retail and spa perspective.
Among her many goals of 2017, TaChelle is working tirelessly toward opening three new restaurant concepts at Westgate Las Vegas by the third quarter.
— Howard Riell
Las Vegas Business Academy
With more than 10 years in marketing, advertising and public relations in the hospitality industry at properties such as Primm Valley Resort, Silverton and most recently the Venetian and Palazzo, Amy Lee decided to make a change.
After accepting a position as executive director of the Las Vegas Business Academy in October, Lee has dedicated her expertise and knowledge to training and educating the future business leaders of Las Vegas. The nonprofit organization offers Las Vegas’ brightest minds up to $75,000 in scholarship funding to UNLV students looking to pursue a MBA, MHA or JD, while also offering a mentorship program with Las Vegas’ top executives in the hospitality, food and beverage, entertainment and law industries. Lee is in charge of managing the LVBA: designing, developing and implementing strategic plans for the organization.
“As a long-time Las Vegas resident and UNLV alumnus, I’ve always wanted to be part of the educational landscape in some capacity,” Lee said. “It was about finding the right opportunity and the right fit. When the opportunity arrived to become the first executive director for the Las Vegas Business Academy, I knew that this was going to be the most fulfilling role that I could take on.”
Throughout 2017, Lee plans to use her expertise to help the LVBA grow, take on more scholarship recipients, offer mentoring services and reach new audiences.
— Howard Riell
TPC HR Payroll Consultants
Armed with ambition, resolve and a degree from what she calls “the University of Negotiation,” Kimberly Miles moved to Southern Nevada in 1995 to launch the first local office of PayChex Inc., where she gained valuable insight and experience in the payroll, human resources and benefits-outsourcing industry.
Five years later, Miles parlayed that knowledge to launch the Payroll Co. — rebranded TPC HR Payroll Consultants in 2010 — to better serve small businesses. Today, the company has grown to include clients across the country and a software-development venture in the works that will provide a more efficient HR and tracking platform for businesses of all sizes. The project, a partnership with three organizations, is currently in its first phase — the development of a tax engine that will be beta tested this year.
Miles is also an advocate for female business owners, and founded Boss Lady Vegas LLC in 2013.
“I was inspired by the cartoon character Kim Possible to start Boss Lady Vegas to empower and encourage women in business,” Miles said. “The efforts of this group attracted national attention and it evolved into a docuseries television show. As interest and pressure from the TV network grew, I decided to continue my support for women in my own way.”
To that end, Miles founded B.E. A. S.H.E.R.O. (BAS) in 2015 as a resource center for organizations serving abused, abandoned or exploited women younger than 25.
“We are currently collaborating with three international, two national and 15 local nonprofits who align with our mission,” she said. “Together we will abolish violence and exploitation.”
— Danielle Birkin
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
As general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Tina Quigley is positioned to affect how people travel throughout the region.
With more than 25 years in transportation management — including a 15-year stint at McCarran International Airport — Quigley joined RTC as deputy general manager in 2005, and was named general manager in 2012.
This year, Quigley will continue her efforts to establish Southern Nevada as a national leader in using advanced technology to improve transportation, and also position the region as the “testing capital” of North America for connected and autonomous vehicles.
“We’re a hotbed for pilot programs because we’re one of the only regions where all the traffic-management devices are housed under one umbrella, which makes it easy for private-sector companies to deploy new technologies,” Quigley said.
RTC recently announced a partnership with Audi to connect its traffic signal network to Audi vehicles, which will tell drivers how much time is left before the traffic signal changes.
RTC also partnered with the City of Las Vegas, Keolis and NAVYA to deploy the first driverless shuttle bus, which has been running on Fremont Street East since Jan. 10. Looking forward, the passage of Ballot Question 5 will generate $3 billion to fund future projects.
“Technology is evolving and Southern Nevada is growing, and we are focused on staying ahead for the purpose of economic development,” she said.
— Danielle Birkin
— Danielle Birkin
Chief Experience Officer
MGM Resorts International
Lilian Tomovich joined MGM Resorts International in 2014 as the company’s first chief experience officer.
Tomovich is leading the transformation of marketing at MGM Resorts to drive a consumer-centric organization that fuels the guest experience. It is a multifaceted role that encompasses all of the company’s marketing functions, including brand management, advertising, loyalty marketing, guest strategy, consumer insights and research, partnership and event marketing, e-commerce, social and digital media, public relations and more.
With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing communications, Tomovich truly understands that brands must continuously be reinvented and reinvigorated in order to be successful.
Looking ahead, Tomovich said, “There are significant opportunities in 2017 — a new mobile app, a more personalized approach to guest communications, a reinforcement of our brand positioning and better storytelling. But at the end of the day, it’s really simple. I have a framed piece of art in my office that simply says ‘Do better.’ That’s what I strive for every day. Do better than the day before.”
Tomovich likes to inspire those around her to challenge themselves. “Even when you think you can’t do it, you’re scared to do it, you’re unsure, trust me — you can do it, and you will do it. I’ve had many situations in my career where I was tapped on the shoulder to do things I didn’t think I had the experience or knowledge to do, but luckily for me I have been surrounded by believers.”
— Howard Riell
WestCare Women and Children’s Campus
In 2004, Dee Wirth was a meth addict committing petty crimes to support her habit. Arrested on a probation violation and facing the possibility of incarceration, Wirth was instead sent into court-mandated treatment at the nonprofit WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus, where she got clean, living on the campus for two years with her children and turning her life around.
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in human services and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and was hired to work at WestCare, promoted in various capacities until coming full circle last October, when she was named director of the facility, which provides a broad spectrum of behavioral health services.
“I’m honored to be back here as the new director, back where my journey started so long ago, to now help these women with their own journey back to life,” Wirth said. “I’m living proof that dreams come true.”
Wirth plans to partner with youth coalitions to grow the facility’s crisis stabilization unit, which has 15 available spots for boys and girls ages 10 to 17, typically referred by Metro Police, the Department of Juvenile Justice Services or the Department of Family Services.
She hopes to increase awareness of WestCare’s services for female veterans while also striving to empower the women and staff on the WestCare campus.
“I just really want to have a positive effect on our environment,” she said. “As someone who has lived on this campus, I know that success is a possibility no matter what.”
— Danielle Birkin