At Vegas Inc, we love looking to our many local leaders as sources of inspiration—to do more and to do better. The 12 women you are about to read about have been lighting the way forward for our community. Our 2021 Women Inspiring Nevada honorees have shown us all hope and humanity in a surreal year.
Thanks to the commitment of several past honorees serving as judges, Vegas Inc is proud to present our 14th annual women’s recognition list. Through the years, these awards have remained steadfast in elevating the work and voices of powerhouse women who inspire a better tomorrow for our community while also pioneering their own industries. This year is no different—showcasing a diverse and impressive list of women taking Southern Nevada by charge.
As visionaries in business and philanthropy, these women share their stories of success and perseverance across nearly every industry that touches the valley—each serving as leaders in their respective roles and constant sources of inspiration for all those that cross their path. If you hadn’t heard their names before, you won’t soon forget them now.
The 2021 Women Inspiring Nevada Awards originally appeared in a special issue of Vegas Inc found inside of Las Vegas Weekly. Sign up to get each of Vegas Inc’s special publications delivered to your inbox on the day of their release.
Elizabeth Blau - CEO, Blau + Associates
Elizabeth Blau started working in restaurants part time at 16 years old. Now a James Beard Award nominee and the founder and CEO of Blau + Associates, a restaurant development firm dedicated to creating world-class hospitality experiences, Blau credits the extraordinary culinary landscape of Las Vegas for elevating her career to new heights.
Erica Mosca - Founder & Executive Director, Leaders in Training
Erica Mosca went to seven different schools growing up and experienced the same educational inequity at each. With the help of a nonprofit she joined in high school, Mosca went on to attend and graduate from college—becoming the first person in her family to do so. Mosca wanted to elevate opportunities for others in the same way.
Carrie Carter Cooper - President, BESTAgency & Founder, Las Vegas Fashion Council
Once a runway model and spokesmodel, Carrie Carter Cooper serves today as another kind of model: model citizen.
Carter Cooper founded BESTAgency in 1997 and has since grown it to over 300 employees with offices in Honolulu and Miami. The agency produces events and entertainment concepts, and supplies models and entertainers for the projects.
Valerie Hicks - Executive Director, SAFY of Nevada
Valerie Hicks believes family and community are the cornerstone for the success of our children. Determined to be part of the solution, she has dedicated her entire career to working with children and families.
At SAFY (Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth), Hicks leads a statewide team of social workers and clinicians to strengthen families and communities through therapeutic foster care, adoption, behavioral health, family preservation and older youth services.
Elena Ledoux - COO, Boss Security Screens & CEO, Superb Maids
After immigrating to the U.S. from Uzbekistan, Elena Ledoux tackled challenge after challenge to achieve her American dream.
Ledoux worked two jobs while in law school and graduated at the top 10% of her class, despite not being fluent in English. After practicing law for several years, she started Superb Maids with just a $1,000 investment. It is now the No. 1 professional house cleaning company in Las Vegas, servicing more than 5,800 clients.
Joy Hoover - CEO + Founder, The Cupcake Girls
As a hair and makeup artist, Joy Hoover was often exposed to powerful stories from adult-industry workers. Hearing of their unmet needs motivated her to help, and what started as a simple gesture of bringing cupcakes into strip clubs ultimately led Hoover to establish The Cupcake Girls.
The Cupcake Girls is a nonprofit that provides support and resources to people in the adult industry and aftercare to those affected by domestic sex trafficking.
Fuilala Riley - President & CEO, HELP of Southern Nevada
A graduate of UNLV’s hospitality program, Fuilala Riley didn’t set out to work in the nonprofit sector. It’s something she has chosen to do.
Riley began her career with HELP of Southern Nevada as the events and development manager. Over the years, she evolved in her role and was eventually appointed to president and CEO in 2016.
Lisa Morris Hibbler - DPA, Chief Community Services Officer, City of Las Vegas
With a city councilwoman as her mother and a senior master sergeant in the Air Force as her father, Dr. Lisa Morris Hibbler grew up with community service as an integral part of her life. She became a member of the American Legion Junior Auxiliary Post 229 when she was only 8 years old—and she is still active with the organization today.
Kimberly Shaw - President & CEO, Dignity Health St. Rose-San Martin Hospital
After experiencing the care and compassion from the nurses who helped deliver her premature daughter, Kimberly Shaw was inspired to become a nurse herself. Now, she’s a nurse who runs an entire hospital.
Passionate about delivering great health care to our community, Shaw dusted off her scrubs and got out on the front line when the hospital experienced the COVID-19 surge.
Ayesha Mehdi - Partner, Spencer Fane LLP
Ayesha Mehdi is a problem preventer and problem solver by nature—making law a natural career choice. She specifically chose health care as her focus, because it is dynamic and challenging.
Day-to-day, Mehdi counsels physicians and other health care professionals, along with various health care-related businesses, in a wide range of corporate, transactional, regulatory and licensure matters. But it is her pro bono work with Children’s Attorney Project of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada that she finds truly invaluable.
Irene Bustamante Adams - Deputy Director & Chief Strategy Officer, Workforce Connections
The daughter of migrant farm workers, Irene Bustamante Adams remembers waking before dawn to work the agricultural fields with her family. It was this experience that ingrained in her the value of hard work and servant leadership.
Bustamante Adams was the first in her family to graduate college, and was the first Latina to earn an Executive Master of Business Administration degree at UNLV.
Maureen E. Schafer - President & CEO, Nevada Health & Bioscience Corporation
Maureen E. Schafer works hard and always wants to win. Growing up an athlete, this mentality was instilled in her at a young age.
After working in many sectors, Schafer has spent the past 15 years focused on health care. Schafer played a major role in opening the Cleveland Clinic Nevada and launching the UNLV School of Medicine, serving as founding chief of staff in the launch of Las Vegas’ first four-year public allopathic medical school.