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 A Lynn M. Bennett Legacy

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  • 2003 Alumnae Biographies


    1st Row (left to right): Tya Mathis, Laura Wade, Linda Anderson, Heather Ware, Felicia Borsari, Misty Kooyman, Shweta (Nikki) Verma, Evelyn Garcia-Morales, Robbi Phillips, Anna Francesca Pollman, Crystal Jackson, Jennifer Carr (formerly Parmeley), Ashley Hickey
    2nd Row: Crystal Dandy, Jennifer Benedict, Janice Mitchell, Arlen Rivera, Alicia Wilson, Merrietta Oviatta-Paradez, Lidia Hoffman, Natalie Obeso, Cremson Turfley, Brandi Powell, Jessica Totans

    Linda Anderson
    University: University of Nevada, Reno 2004
    Major: Social Work
    Minor: English with a Writing Concentration
    Linda Anderson likes to make the best use of her time, taking part in different things to make life better for herself and others. She lives with her husband, Paul, and their son, Thomas, at Barrow in Furness, England. She works as a social worker who specializes in adoption and foster care.

    Jennifer Benedict
    University: Columbia University (2004); University of Nevada, Reno (2003)
    Major: Social Work
    Jennifer Benedict received a degree from Columbia University after transferring from UNR. She recently accepted a position at the State of Nevada Legislative Council Bureau as a Senior Research Analyst working with the state legislature. Prior to that, she was the Public Policy Analyst for the Great Basin Primary Care Association in Carson City.

    Felicia Borsari
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2004
    Felicia Borsari gained a wealth of personal and cultural experience during her 36- year tenure with an airline company. Felicia became a fitness director for several cruise lines in 1999 before she made the decision to return to college. Graduating from El Camino Junior College with honors, Felicia transferred to UNLV to pursue her studies.

    Crystal Dandy
    University: University of Nevada Las Vegas
    Major: International Relations
    At thirteen Crystal Dandy and her family moved to the Las Vegas Valley where she was very active in her high school’s organizations. The Millennium Scholarship program afforded Crystal the opportunity to attend UNLV, after which she hopes to study abroad in Chile. She eventually hopes to obtain a masters degree in political science and a Juris doctorate.

    Ashley Ferguson
    University: Great Basin College
    Major: Integrative/Professional Studies
    Ashley Ferguson is a resident of Winnemucca, Nevada and Meridian, Idaho and earned her BA in Integrative Studies in 2004, where she was also active as a Student Senator. Ashley has been very active in her community including serving in various capacities in the Humboldt County Chamber of Commerce. She is currently the General Manager for a corporation that owns multiple restaurant locations.

    Evelyn Garcia-Morales
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2006
    Major: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
    Evelyn Garcia-Morales joined the 2012 NEW Leadership class as a Faculty in Residence. She works in Washington, D.C. for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute as the manager of educational enrichment programs. She is married to Victor and they have a much loved son.

    Lidia Hoffman
    University: University of Nevada, Reno 2004
    Major: Psychology
    Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Lidia Hoffman immigrated to the US in 1992 and settled in the Reno area. Lidia hopes to enter the PhD Clinical Psychology program at UNR and continue her studies. Lidia worked for the International Resource Center of Northern Nevada and the Reno Municipal Court as an interpreter as well as with a psychiatrist affiliated with the university from which she learned different aspects of the Psychology Profession.

    Crystal Jackson
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2004
    Major: Bachelors in Psychology/Masters in Sociology
    Crystal Jackson has a passion for discussing and educating people on issues that relate to sexism, classism, and racism, and their continual effect on our society. She supports, through activism and academic concentrations, social justice issues – LGTBTQ issues, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and sex positive education. She is the founder of the Feminist Drinking Club, a founding member of a sexuality education group known as the Pleasure Education Resource for the Vegas Valley, and was the 2007 Women’s Summit coordinator for the Nevada Women’s Agenda. Crystal was the Program Manager for NEW Leadership Nevada for 2007 and pursued her PhD in Sociology, with an emphasis on women’s studies, while working on a book with two sociology professors that situates Nevada’s legal brothels with broader understandings of tourism, U.S. economy, and sexuality. After completing her dissertation on sex workers’ rights at UNLV in the department of Sociology, she took a position as an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York, John Jay College.

    Misti Kooyman
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Misti Kooyman graduated UNLV summa cum laude with a degree in Political Science, number one in her entire 2004 graduating class. She completed a juris doctorate magna cum laude from Boyd Law School in 2007. She worked as a law clerk for Judge Elissa F. Cadish, Eighth Judicial District Court, until she joined the Clark County Public Defender’s office as an attorney in 2008. Her husband is in the Air Force and they moved to Charleston for 18 months in 2011. So, she now is licensed to practice law in NV and SC. Meyers returned to the CCPD’s office and recently continued her legal education at the Mercer Law School Criminal Defense College in the summer of 2013.

    Tya R. Mathis
    University: University of Nevada, Reno 2004/University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2007
    Major: Bachelor of Arts, Political Science/Masters in Public Administration
    Tya R. Mathis worked for the University of Nevada, Reno as an Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator before going to work at the Public Education Foundation as the Assistant Director of Leadership and Innovation. She is very involved with the Executive Leadership Academy and other work of the Foundation. She was also elected President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Las Vegas Alumnae Chapter last May, after serving four years as First Vice President. Delta is an International Public Service Organization.

    Heather McCutcheon
    University: University of Nevada, Reno
    Major: Land Use/Urban Development
    Heather McCutcheon’s background includes extensive working knowledge of the technical industry and software. She hopes to one day obtain a Masters in Land Use and Urban Development and work in city planning, in addition to running for public office in Nevada.

    Janice Mitchell
    University: California State University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2003
    Major: English/Women’s Studies
    Janice Mitchell graduated from UNLV with a degree in English and Women’s Studies. In the future Janice hopes to go to law school in Seattle, Washington. Her interest includes writing poetry and fiction.

    Natalie Obeso
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Natalie Obeso is the General Manager at Ox Restaurant in Portland.

    Merietta Oviatt Paradez
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: Music
    Merietta Oviatt Paradez has extensive experience in not only performing music herself, but teaching others the art as well. She received a full scholarship to LSU for music. At LSU she was elected pledge class Vise President for Kappa Zeta sorority and worked on many projects to raise money for shelters and to fight disease. Merietta is a co-founder of the Utah School of Music and the Arts of Vernal, Utah and has traveled extensively with her craft. In addition to her music, Merietta received an outstanding community service award for service at the Uintah care Center she also volunteered with the American Diabetic Association and has had an internship with Senator Harry Reid.

    Jennifer Carr
    University: University of Nevada, Reno 2003, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: English Literature/Law
    Minor: Human Development Family Studies
    Jennifer Carr received her B.A. in English magna cum laude in 2003 from the UNR, graduated from the Boyd School of Law cum laude in 2006 and is the recipient of the 2006 Barbara Buckley Community Service Award. While attending law school, she assisted with the externship program. She is admitted to practice in Nevada as well as the Federal District of Nevada. Prior to joining the staff at the Boyd School of Law, she worked with Clark County Legal Services. As assistant director of the academic support program, Jennifer provides individual counseling on academic matters, bar examination preparation, and group presentations on necessary legal analysis skills.

    Robbi Phillips
    University: Great Basin College
    Major: Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies
    Robbi Phillips has been very active in her community, serving as president of GBC’s Student Government Association along with volunteering for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She was the assistant coach for the Elko High School Dance Team, participating in the Miss Elko Competition, and a member of National Honors Society.

    Anna Francesca (Pollman) Garcia
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (BA)/ University of North Texas (MLIS)
    Major: Women’s Studies
    Minor: Theatre Minor 2003/ Library Sciences (Storytelling Certificate) 2008
    Anna Francesca Pollman Garcia received the Ed Asner scholarship and her grades led her to become part of the honorary society Phi Theta Kappa. She received her Masters Degree from the University of North Texas in Library and Information Sciences. She is currently an Outreach Education Librarian at the Kansas City Public Library. In addition to loving books, she entertains herself and her FB friends with adventures of her daughter Delilah Rose.

    Brandi Powell
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: Communication Studies
    Minor: Spanish
    Brandi Powell is a reporter at NBC 7 in San Diego and NBC Universal. She credits NEW Leadership with making “a huge difference” in her life.

    Arlene Rivera
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: English
    Minor: Spanish/Business Law
    Arlene Rivera was highly active in the student community at UNLV, primarily advocating for immigrant rights.  Through her activism, she decided to go to law school at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Arlene interned for the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest where she researched the discriminatory treatment of Roma in Europe.  After studying law in several countries, she has returned to Las Vegas.  Today, Arlene is an Immigration/Domestic Violence attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

    Jessica Totans
    University: University of Nevada, Reno 2003, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: Social Work
    Jessica Totans was able to testify for a Bill in front of the Legislature. She felt this process could improve our quality of life. During this experience at Grassroots Lobby Days she was intrigued and learned a lot about the political process. Jessica is currently a social work graduate student at Sacramento State University in California.

    Cremson Turfley
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: Psychology
    Cremson Turfley spent a summer studying abroad in in Spain taking courses in language and history after NEWL. Being able to see so much art, attending the Running of the Bulls, and also volunteering to restore a church were incredible experiences she will never forget. She graduated from UNLV in 2005 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and decided to contact Jackie Bryant who she met at the conference and interned for a summer at Governor Guinn’s office. She had the opportunity to represent the Governor’s office at conferences and award ceremonies, as well as update their database of community resources. In the fall of 2005, she moved to Ashland, Oregon to earn her Master’s at Southern Oregon University in Psychology with a focus in Training and Development. While in Oregon, she had an internship at Rogue Valley Hospital where she helped to create training modules for new employees and volunteered at Children’s Heritage Museum organizing events to teach kids about the history of Oregon. When she graduated in 2007, she decided to returned to Las Vegas to help her sister with her first child and to start working at her family-owned business Caring Nurses Home Health. They provide in-home services for homebound elderly. Her interest in the geriatric population led her to complete a Graduate Certificate from University of Florida in Geriatric Care Management. Today, she is the Operations Manager at Caring Nurses and, as her parent’s retirement approaches, she has the opportunity to take control of the business. Her life wouldn’t be complete without volunteering, so she is a reading tutor at Clark County Library for illiterate adults and also a mentor for a substance abuse recovery program at Las Vegas Rescue Mission. Her experiences at NEW Leadership provided connections in the community and created a need to explore and learn. She believes her path in life is to always continue learning which is why she wants to pursue a PhD, give back to the community, volunteer to make a difference, and pass her desire to learn and grow onto others.

    Shweta Verma
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: Law
    Shweta Verma was born in India and raised in California. She transferred to UNLV from Cal State Hayward University. Upon graduation from UNLV she plans to attend NYU for a joint program of Juris Diction degree and Masters in Business Administration.

    Laura Wade
    University: University of Nevada Las Vegas
    Major: Bachelors of Arts in Economics Honors
    Laura Wade Graduated Cum Laude from UNLV. She is currently attending the University of Colorado Boulder to obtain a Master of Science in Environmental Studies and work as an auction coordinator for a local non-profit.

    Alicia Wilson
    University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Major: English
    Minor: Philosophy
    Alicia Wilson is a prolific writer who lives happily in Hawaii with her husband, Shaggy, and their cat, Ronald. She is working on her PhD in Social Informatics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and works as an academic support specialist. In her “spare” time she participates in activities for her labor union and bargaining unit.

  • Improving the Lives of Women through Research and Education

  • NEW Leadership Nevada 2017 Keynote Dinner

    Featuring Restaurateur and Philanthropist Jenna Morton
    Blasco Event Wing, UNLV Foundation
    4505 S. Maryland Parkway
    Thursday, June 8, 2017
    Reception at 5:00pm
    Dinner and Program at 6:00pm

  • Meet women who have played an integral role in shaping Nevada's history.

    Flolliott LeCoque

    Flolliott LeCoque is the First Lady of Las Vegas Entertainment who ...
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    Women's Research Institute of Nevada
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 455083
    Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-5083

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