With a combination of smarts, skill, compassion and commitment to community, the honorees of our annual 40 Under 40 publication represent the best that Southern Nevada has to show the world.
In our 19th annual publication, we’re recognizing people from a cross section of industries in the valley who have one thing in common — they’re making Las Vegas a better place.
As has been happening since 2001, nominations for the honor poured in. Our team of judges then reviewed all of the nominations. They looked not only for professional achievements, but also assessed each candidate’s community service, entrepreneurial spirit and influence on their respective industries.
How they shape the future manifests itself differently from honoree to honoree. More than one is helping our valley’s youth get a firm foothold on the path to greatness, perhaps setting them up to be future 40 Under 40 honorees.
Take the time to read about these young leaders and their amazing accomplishments. This distinguished group plays a crucial role in Southern Nevada’s business development.
We’re able to bring these exceptional Nevadans to you thanks in part to our sponsors — Stitched, Absolut Elyx, Ambros Banana Whiskey, Cox Business and SpeedVegas. A special thank-you goes to Station Casinos and Green Valley Ranch Resort for hosting the soiree where we honored these leaders and innovators. Writer Danielle Birkin provided the profiles.
Krystal Allan - KSNV-NBC 3
News Anchor | Age: 35
Allan earned her journalism degree from the University of Missouri and had a successful stint as a weekend anchor and reporter in Biloxi, Miss., before relocating to Southern Nevada in 2011. Currently, she’s a news anchor for both “Wake Up With the CW” and “News 3 Live at Noon.” Among her recent accomplishments, the Emmy-nominated anchor, along with her colleagues, received the Edward R. Murrow award for coverage of October 1. “The resilience, selflessness and support our community showed during that unimaginable tragedy left a lasting impact and I was proud to be a part of that,” Allan said.
Jennifer 'Jenny O' Calleri - Huntington Jewelers
Owner | Age: 39
A graduate gemologist, Calleri worked in sales at Simayof Diamond Cutters in the Grand Canal Shoppes, then studied at the Gemological Institute of America, after which she worked on the supply side selling loose diamonds and branded jewelry lines to retailers. She then spent five years at MJ Christensen, where she was a top sales professional, then served as store director and brand ambassador at T-Bird Jewels. In January 2018, she and her husband purchased Huntington Jewelers, which was originally established in 1950. Owner, designer, creator, curator, appraiser — there are many facets to her career.
Dr. Stephani Christensen - Comprehensive Cancer Centers
Hematologist and Medical Oncologist | Age: 39
Christensen — who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania and completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Rush University in Chicago — joined Comprehensive Cancer Centers as a hematologist and medical oncologist in May 2017. Today, Christensen has been focusing more on breast cancer as her practice has grown and participates in a number of clinical trials, currently serving as the principal investigator for two Phase III trials. “I plan to open two more metastatic breast cancer trials in the next two months,” Christensen said.
Lacy Colson - Signature Real Estate Group
Realtor | Age: 38
“I was a massage therapist at The Spa at Encore for nine years before getting back into real estate, setting the goal to sell enough in one month to provide for a year so I could let go of massage,” said Colson, who sold more than $4 million in 2016, her first year at Signature Real Estate Group, and sold more than $6 million in 2018. She is also an entrepreneur, having created a hands-free diaper bag called Roo-Go. “It took me years to get the perfect prototype made ... but it was such an impactful experience in never giving up and creating my product,” she said.
Amanda Connor - Connor & Connor
Co-founder and Partner | Age: 37
Connor, who previously taught dual-language kindergarten, and her husband founded Connor & Connor PLLC in May 2012, and the firm has since helped to shape Nevada marijuana-industry regulations with the goal of providing safe products and clear guidelines. “Since our inception, when it was just my husband and I working out of our house, we have expanded to a firm that provides more than 15 good-paying jobs with benefits,” said Connor, who sits on the board of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance and the leadership board of the Southern Nevada chapter of the American Cancer Society, and also represents kids in the foster system through the Children’s Attorney Project.
Matthew Cova - MountainView Hospital
CFO | Age: 38
Having previously worked in leadership capacities at University Medical Center and Valley Health System, Cova joined MountainView Hospital as CFO in April 2017. Cova oversees all financial aspects of the hospital along with case management, pharmacy and respiratory therapy services, and also assists the CEO in the development of long- and short-range hospital operations plans. During Cova's tenure, MountainView has experienced double-digit growth in admissions and surgical cases, while operational costs have decreased. Cova also assisted and supported in the opening of a hospital-based ER, ER at Aliante, and worked on the expansion of the Las Vegas Institute of Robotic Surgery with the addition of robotic systems.
Christina Ellis - Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery
Director of Marketing | Age: 27
Christina Ellis, who earned a degree in fine arts from the University of Southern California and is pursuing an MBA at UNLV, took on the role of director of marketing in June 2014 for all properties, including Ellis Island, Village Pubs and the Mount Charleston Lodge. Ellis has been instrumental in raising the property’s visibility through community events and beer festivals, and has also grown the company’s online presence through social media and advertising. She played an integral role in last year’s 50th anniversary as well as in the acquisition of Mount Charleston Lodge.
Megan Fazio - Neon PR
Founder and CEO | Age: 30
Fazio has owned and operated an award-winning PR agency in Las Vegas since she was 24 and is responsible for leading hundreds of successful marketing campaigns that continue to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to Las Vegas. She moved to Southern Nevada in early 2012 to take a PR position at a Las Vegas agency, prior to founding Neon PR in September of that year. The firm represents clients in the hospitality, entertainment, travel and tourism, and nonprofit arenas. An early adopter of the Downtown Las Vegas movement — with offices located downtown for the past three years — the agency also works with DTP Companies (formerly Downtown Project).
Jennifer Forkish - Caesars Entertainment
Vice President of Corporate Communications | Age: 39
Forkish joined Caesars Entertainment as vice president of corporate communications in 2016. “I oversee all aspects of companywide messaging with traditional, digital and social media on topics such as development, online sports betting, earnings and corporate social responsibility,” said Forkish, who also oversees crisis management for the corporate office and senior management as well as for more than 50 Caesars Entertainment properties. Forkish, who served on the board of NPR, recently took the lead on two major projects, including the company’s announcement of a first-of-its-kind sponsorship with the NFL and Caesars as the first founding partner of Las Vegas Stadium, the future home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Elliot Gall - Credit One Bank
Vice President of Risk Management | Age: 35
Gall became the vice president of risk management at Credit One Bank in August 2017. With a focus on using data to develop industry-leading service strategies, he manages a team of four analysts. Since assuming his current title, he has been instrumental in the execution of two major projects. “The first involved developing a credit-application decision system that allowed us to expand our business online, and the second project involved the implementation of an advance-decision engine platform used to drive marketing and communications with our existing card members,” said Gall, who through Credit One Bank supports Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Three Square and HELP of Southern Nevada.
Jonny Greco - Vegas Golden Knights
Vice President, Entertainment Production | Age: 39
In 2017, a few months before the Vegas Golden Knights dropped the puck, Greco was tapped to take the inaugural season of the team to unchartered waters as vice president, entertainment production, leading a full-time team of nine storytellers, with some additional 90 helping to put on the show. “I’ve been fortunate to work and collaborate with inspired individuals who are relentless in improving the fan experience and creating engaging content that leaves indelible marks on your fans, from creating a forever-memory for a father and son or an aunt and her nephew, and so on,” Greco said.
Noelle Haddad-McCann - TNG Models
President and CEO | Age: 33
In her role as president and CEO at TNG Models, Haddad-McCann — who holds an associate of arts degree from College of Southern Nevada — leads a team of models, booking agents, scouts and model developers, helping to guide them as well as her other clients to success in the modeling industry. “In 2016, we converted our business model from a non-exclusive booking agency to an exclusive model management and booking agency,” said Haddad-McCann, who supports Dress for Success Southern Nevada and Donors Choose, and also has an ongoing internship program with UNLV.
Jessica Halling - St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Program Director | Age: 39
Halling has been a program director for St. Jude’s Ranch for Children since November 2017. She received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from UNLV and a master’s degree in social work from USC, launching her career at Acelero Learning Head Start. She then joined the Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning as an educator and information officer for the Nevada Silver State Stars QRIS prior to assuming her current position with St. Jude’s, where she is responsible for oversight of operations for the Boulder City campus. Halling is on advisory boards for the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada and Power On through Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.
Halee Harczynski - Downtown Summerlin/The Howard Hughes Corp.
Marketing Director | Age: 33
Harczynski, who moved to Southern Nevada in 2008, has held her current position of director of marketing for Downtown Summerlin/Howard Hughes Corp. since July 2016. Along with her team, Harczynski organizes, executes and hosts more than 150 events each year. “In its second year, the 2016 17-day holiday parade generated over 40 million media impressions, an 846 percent increase over 2015, with over 70,000 visitors attending the kick-off celebration,” said Harczynski, adding that attendance of the festivities exceeded 1.2 million visitors, up more than 16 percent from 2015.
Kevin Holyfield - Park MGM
Vice President of Hotel Operations | Age: 37
Holyfield joined MGM Resorts International in April 2008 and currently serves as vice president of hotel operations at Park MGM/NoMad Las Vegas. “One of my most recent professional accomplishments is the transition and cultural shift from Monte Carlo to Park MGM,” said Holyfield, adding that the company invested more than $550 million in this process. “As a result, we have seen increased revenue and outstanding customer satisfaction. Looking ahead, “MGM Resorts International has been my home for almost 11 years and I look forward to continuing to learn, grow and contribute to the organization in any way I can,” said Holyfield, who serves on the board of trustees for Discovery Children’s Museum.
Brian Howard - Sparrow + Wolf
Owner and Chef | Age: 37
Having spent nearly 20 years in Southern Nevada working his way through some of the top kitchens in town, Howard formed Brian Howard Hospitality in 2016, and now serves as chef and owner of Sparrow + Wolf, a restaurant that has earned national acclaim. “We have successfully established an amazing concept that focuses on delivering great hospitality and delicious food — that’s it,” Howard said. “I believe my professional accomplishments come from within my organization and my family: I curate and develop the ideas but they are the reaction of that. But my accomplishments go beyond that, and that’s having a full dining room 90 percent of the time. That’s a win in my eyes.”
Dr. Le Hua - Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Director of Mellen Program for Multiple Sclerosis | Age: 38
Hua holds a degree in biochemistry from the University of Arizona, attended medical school at USC, completed a residency in neurology at Stanford University and completed a fellowship in neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis at Barrow Neurological Institute. “I became interested in neurology after learning how the brain works, and eventually specialized in neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis because it was a merge of all my interests,” Hua said. She joined Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in August 2013 and became director of the multiple sclerosis program in September 2014. In addition to seeing patients, she also works on research, clinical trials and education.
Nate Jacobs - McCarthy Building Companies
Director of Project Development | Age: 33
Jacobs holds a degree in construction engineering from Montana State University and first came to Southern Nevada in 2007 for a summer internship at McCarthy Building Companies, joining the company full-time as a project engineer the following year after graduation. He assumed the position of director of project development in 2018 and is responsible for managing McCarthy’s strategic client relationships and market visibility in Nevada, as well as fostering relationships with industry partners. His business development efforts in 2018 led to the Nevada office’s most successful sales year to date, resulting in nearly $850 million of project awards.
Jonathan Jossel - Plaza Hotel & Casino
CEO | Age: 34
Jossel, named CEO of the Plaza in 2014, takes a hands-on, high-visibility approach to management, regularly walking the property, greeting employees by name and meeting with guests, in addition to reviewing financials, discussing operations and developing new ideas. “We recently opened the Core Arena, the first and only outdoor equestrian center in downtown Las Vegas,” Jossel said. “We will host the Las Vegas Days rodeo in conjunction with the Helldorado parade this May. As a multipurpose outdoor facility, it will host a variety of other events too, including the first demolition derby downtown, diversifying the downtown experience and attracting more business and people to downtown Las Vegas year-round.”
Zee Khan - UNLV Hockey
General Manager | Age: 37
A Southern Nevada resident since 2012 and general manager of UNLV Hockey since 2015, Khan is responsible for oversight of the team and efforts to embed the program into the community. He is also tasked with raising money to support the fully self-funded program, through community outreach and partnership, including a deal with Vegas Golden Knights to practice and play games at City National Arena. He also led the team's transition from Division 2 to Division 1 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, with back-to-back National Tournament appearances and a top-10 ranking to finish its first season in Division 1.
Jen Kramer - 'The Magic of Jen Kramer' at Westgate Las Vegas
Magician | Age: 26
Kramer, who holds a degree in theater studies from Yale University, interned for Nathan Burton’s magic show during two summers and moved to Southern Nevada in 2014 following graduation, and did weekly shows for guests at Wyndham’s Grand Desert Resort and Marriott’s Grand Chateau, while also performing at corporate events, private parties and college campuses. She has also appeared on television, including on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” and “Masters of Illusion.” She opened The Magic of Jen Kramer at Westgate Las Vegas in May 2018, and has been headlining four shows a week since then.
Augusta Massey - Massey & Associates Law Firm
Founder and Managing Partner | Age: 35
Massey earned a juris doctorate in addition to a degree in English from the University of Memphis and moved to Southern Nevada in 2008, working as an associate attorney with Holley Driggs Walch Fine Puzey Stein & Thompson and Anthony A. Zmaila Ltd. PLLC prior to branching out on her own. “I started Massey & Associates Law Firm in April 2012, and haven’t looked back,” said Massey, whose practice focuses largely on business law, individual bankruptcy and contracts. “I have been able to help several clients open international businesses this year and increase their income five-fold after working with me.”
Monica Moradkhan - Wynn Resorts
Vice President of Community Relations | Age: 38
A Las Vegas resident for more than 25 years, Moradkhan earned bachelor's and master's degrees in hotel administration from UNLV. She joined Wynn Resorts as vice president of community relations in November 2017. Initiatives that Moradkhan has helped drive include the Shade Tree Revitalization Project, which has developed into a partnership with more than 90 businesses engaged in renovating the Shade Tree and Noah's Animal House. The company also raised more than $120,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at an employee-conceived benefit performance, and assembled a panel of Wynn executives to participate in roundtable discussions advising nonprofits and identifying collaboration opportunities.
Patrick Nichols - The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Chief Strategy Officer | Age: 33
Nichols relocated to Southern Nevada in 2008 after earning a degree in hospitality management at Cornell University. He joined the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in October 2010 as director of strategic planning, a few months before the property opened. “At the time, I knew what an opportunity it would be to open an integrated resort on the Strip, much less a luxury brand with indy spirit like the Cosmopolitan,” said Nichols, who assumed the position of chief strategy officer in April 2018. Today, he is responsible for strategy development and execution, business development, design and construction, retail, entertainment and aviation operations, and financial planning and analysis.
Mark Price - HealthCare Partners Nevada
President | Age: 39
Early in his career, Price spent two months in southern Africa working on infectious disease research with Northwestern University’s Global Health Foundation. He relocated to Southern Nevada in 2017 and assumed his current position as president of HealthCare Partners Nevada in March 2018. Under Price’s leadership, HealthCare Partners has grown significantly in terms of physicians as well as patients, with a team of more than 1,700 employees currently providing medical care to more than 340,000 Southern Nevadans. “Also in 2018, HealthCare Partners Nevada introduced a revolutionary medical clinic concept with our 24 ‘myGeneration’ clinics, which focus specifically on the care of seniors on Medicare Advantage,” Price said.
Karl Rutledge - Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie
Partner and Chairman, Gaming Industry Group | Age: 39
Rutledge has been a partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie since June 2013, has served as chairman of the gaming industry group since last spring. He is responsible for managing and further developing the firm’s gaming practice and providing counsel to clients and the business community about the nuances of gaming — particularly eSports, fantasy sports, sports betting and promotional marketing. He also helps clients navigate the gaming regulatory framework of other states, and sees nothing but continued growth ahead. “It’s a great time to be in Las Vegas with the influx of professional sports, cultural diversification and new industries, all which bring an abundance of opportunities,” Rutledge said.
Dr. Emily Schorr - Shepherd Eye Center
Surgeon | Age: 36
Schorr attended medical school at Tufts University and completed an ophthalmology residency at Baylor and a fellowship in cornea cataract and refractive surgery at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, before moving to Las Vegas in the fall of 2018. Here, she joined Shepherd Eye Center. She specializes in cataract surgery, lens exchanges, cornea transplants, iris reconstruction, ocular surface tumors and refractive surgery. She was among the first surgeons in Manhattan to perform a new type of cornea transplantation called Descemets Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty, and has brought this expertise to Southern Nevada. She is involved in clinical research studies to improve surgical outcomes.
Katharine Sherrer - MGM Resorts International
Director of Public Relations | Age: 35
Sherrer moved to Southern Nevada in 2010 to join MGM Resorts International, where she has served as director of PR since July 2018. “I work with the team that oversees publicity for all entertainment, nightlife and sports venues and events for MGM Resorts,” Sherrer said. This can include handling media activities, events and requests for T-Mobile Arena, the MGM Grand Garden Arena and Park Theater, as well as working with PR teams for other shows and nightlife venues. One of her most recent accomplishments was the launch of Lady Gaga’s residency at Park Theater. She said 2019 will bring other events like boxing, UFC, award shows, concerts and festivals.
Bri Steck - Vegas Girls Night Out
CEO | Age: 36
A Southern Nevada native who studied entertainment and marketing at UNLV, Bri Steck combined her lifelong Las Vegas know-how with her previous experience in marketing, public relations and advertising to launch Vegas Girls Night Out — a boutique concierge service offering insider access to the local party scene — in January 2015. Steck oversees all operations, sales and marketing for VGNO, which is staffed entirely by women, and offers customized party packages ranging from bachelorette parties, divorce celebrations or moms’ nights out. “We continue to secure exclusive packages and offerings for our customers,” said Steck, who also serves as vice president of group sales for SPI Entertainment.
Nikki Steven - Ideal Foods
Founder, Owner and CEO | Age: 37
After attending UNLV and graduating with honors from the Professional Fitness Institute, Steven owned and operated a personal training studio. “Then I was inspired to create a food program that would complement my clients’ fitness regimens, and I created my first food product with $150,” said Steven, who founded Ideal Foods, which provides packaged meals, in 2014 and serves as CEO. In 2015, Ideal Foods became certified with the National Women Business Owners Corporation as a women-owned and -controlled business. Soon after, the company received its grant of inspection with the USDA, which took sales from approximately $300,000 to approximately $3 million in just one year.
Cory Summerhays - Unforgettable Coatings/ Blue APE Painting
Founder and CEO | Age: 38
Summerhays launched Unforgettable Coatings in January 2008 and now operates in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Idaho, with Summerhays founding other companies along the way. Although he is CEO of a $36 million business, Summerhays still drives a truck, carries tools and can often be found with paint on his fingers. “It’s in my nature to take time each week to be on the job site,” he said. Quality and service are central to Summerhays’ business philosophy, which he feels has helped create a loyal customer base and employees. “I place high value on people and building relationships. Companywide, in four states, we have only lost one individual from our management team in 11 years,” Summerhays said.
Joseph Sunbury - Nevada System of Higher Education
Chief Internal Auditor | Age: 38
A Southern Nevada resident since 2015, Sunbury joined the Nevada System of Higher Education as chief internal auditor in August of that year. He is responsible for oversight of a statewide team of internal auditors and works closely with the board of regents and NSHE management with the goal of enhancing and protecting the system’s value. “We do this a handful of ways, but we attempt to align our resources and skillsets with areas of risk and complexity, focusing on areas where we feel we can add value or help with cost-savings,” Sunbury said, adding that he is most proud of his team’s collaboration around the system.
Craig M. Tann - Huntington & Ellis, A Real Estate Agency
Founder and Broker | Age: 35
Tann launched his career in real estate in New York in 2003, relocating to Southern Nevada the following year and landing at one of the largest residential brokerages in town, sharpening his skills until he founded Huntington & Ellis in 2016. “I currently oversee 40 of the most productive real estate agents in Southern Nevada while maintaining and serving a large personal client base,” Tann said. “Since I launched Huntington & Ellis, A Real Estate Agency, we have built an organization that has the highest amount of sales per agent in Southern Nevada. This was a vision I had since Day One,” Tann said.
Vincent Tatum - Grand Canyon Development Partners
Executive Vice President | Age: 39
Tatum — who holds a degree in international studies and Japanese from Old Dominion University in Virginia — joined Grand Canyon Development Partners in May 2014 as vice president and became executive vice president about a year ago. He made his initial foray into the construction industry while serving in the U.S. military in Japan, working on projects that included constructing temporary and permanent facilities. The Virginia native put this experience to practical use, moving to Southern Nevada in 2006 and finding himself immersed in the construction and real estate development arenas. He’s worked on a wide range of projects, from mixed-use commercial/residential to hospitality and casinos.
Jeff Tomastik - Derby Spirits
President | Age: 32
Tomastik’s company — Derby Spirits, which he cofounded with company CEO Sami Omar in August 2016 — launched its first product, Ambros Banana Whiskey, last year. The company created a process that allows spirits to be infused with only 100 percent real fruit, with no added flavoring, syrups or sugars of any kind. As the most popular fruit in the world, bananas were a natural choice for Derby’s first offering, Tomastik said. “Our company is brand new so our biggest accomplishment so far is really getting Ambros from just an idea to a thriving product, and completing our state-of-the-art facility right here in Henderson,” Tomastik said.
James Trees - Timeless Cuisine
Owner and Chef | Age: 38
Trees attended the Culinary Institute of America and earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts. He perfected his craft working under chefs such as Michael Mina, Anthony Carron, Steven Fretz, Bradley Odgen, and “for a few unforgettable years, with Gordon Ramsay on his TV shows,” said Trees, who relocated back to Las Vegas in 2017 to open Esther’s Kitchen in January 2018. “When I came back to Las Vegas, my goal was just to bring something I thought was missing to the city, and my response was a simple seasonal neighborhood Italian restaurant that has honestly been far and beyond my expectations,” Trees said.
Cathy Vongnaraj - Tuscany Suites and Casino
Director of Marketing | Age: 36
Having served as a marketing executive for major casinos such as Aria and Wynn, Vongnaraj is also a Realtor with the Jennifer Franco Group at Simply Vegas. She joined Tuscany as director of marketing in 2018, responsible for player development, marketing, promotions, advertising and public relations. “Tuscany is a privately owned casino, but with my knowledge on how larger casinos run their player-development operations, I am able to bring big-picture operations on a smaller scale, with quicker results,” said Vongnaraj, who revised the players’ club program and incentives. “The process of modernizing Tuscany has been a top priority of mine,” Vongnarajsaid.
JJ Walker - Cannabition Cannabis Museum
Founder | Age: 38
In 2009, with just a $10,000 investment, Walker co-founded a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado. He sold his shares in the venture in 2012 and founded My 420 Tours, one of the world’s first successful cannabis tourism companies. “I never expected to live anywhere else until the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada brought me to Las Vegas in September 2017 to open Cannabition Cannabis Museum,” said Walker, who serves as CEO. The immersive downtown attraction extols cannabis culture from seed to celebration. “We hope by this summer, Cannabition becomes one of the first (legal, public) experiences in the world where people can have a good time smoking cannabis with friends.”
Lynn Wetzel - Kirvin Doak Communications
Marketing Account Director | Age: 37
A native of Southern California with a degree in business administration from California State University, Long Beach, Wetzel joined Kirvin Doak Communications in November of 2016 as marketing account director, responsible for client development in the tech, gaming, government and nonprofit sectors. She leads strategic brand and campaign direction and oversees creative content development to ensure the team is delivering the highest caliber of output. She also works to build relationships, whether with clients in functioning as an extension of their team, or in establishing strategic partnerships that tap into opportunities to further the goals of clients.
Haejin Woo - Communities In Schools of Southern Nevada
Academy Program Director | Age: 30
Woo moved to Southern Nevada in 2014 to join Teach For America to fight for equity in education, and started a teaching career with the Clark County School District as a special education teacher. She joined Communities In Schools of Southern Nevada — which works to keep kids in school — as academy program director in August 2017. “I now work with seven high schools in CCSD and support 10 academy classes within those schools,” Woo said, adding that academy classes identify students at risk of not graduating. Those students are connected with trained site coordinators to help them tackle any obstacles, inclusive of tutoring, mental health services, credit retrieval and mentoring.