2022 Speakers

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Catherine Cortez Masto has spent her career fighting for Nevada’s working families. She served two terms as Attorney General of Nevada and in November 2016, she made history by becoming the first woman from Nevada and the first Latina ever elected to the United States Senate.

Her position on four Senate Committees allows her to continue to advocate for the issues that matter most to Nevadans. She sits on the Committee on Finance; the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; and the Committee on Indian Affairs. Cortez Masto currently serves as the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee.

Prior to her service as Attorney General, Cortez Masto served as Chief of Staff to Nevada Governor Bob Miller. She also worked as an Assistant County Manager in Clark County and as a federal criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C.

Cortez Masto earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1986, and a J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1990. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband Paul, a retired Secret Service agent.

U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen

Jacky Rosen is a U.S. Senator representing the state of Nevada. Rosen previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 115th Congress where she was rated one of the most bipartisan freshmen members and was a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus. Rosen serves on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Special Committee on Aging, and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She has been a champion for encouraging early childhood education in STEM, especially for young girls. In her first year in the Senate, Rosen also launched the Bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus.

Prior to running for elected office, Rosen started her career as a computer programmer and software developer. Rosen is also the former President of Congregation Ner Tamid, the state’s largest synagogue.

Rosen and her husband Larry have one daughter, Miranda. Rosen received her undergraduate bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in 1979. Rosen also received an associate’s degree in computing and information technology in 1985 from Clark County Community College — what is now the College of Southern Nevada.

Nevada First Lady Kathy Sisolak

Kathy Sisolak was born Katherine Won Ong in Ely, Nevada as the youngest of four children and the only girl. Kathy’s family left Ely soon after she was born, moving to Las Vegas so that Kathy’s father could work at the Fremont Hotel as a card dealer. Her father was the first Chinese dealer on Fremont Street. Kathy’s mother worked for Clark County as a data processor.

Kathy attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with an emphasis in finance. Upon graduation in 1981 she started her public service working for Clark County, Nevada in the budget office. She eventually became the budget manager where she directed the preparation, implementation and control of Clark County’s $1.8 billion annual budget. She left the County in 1996 to establish the firm of Hobbs, Ong & Associates, Inc., a financial advisory firm specializing in municipal finance. Since establishing the firm, Kathy has worked on, structured, and managed the sale of more than $32.4 billion of tax-exempt and taxable debt.

Kathy was also on the Board of Directors of Employers Holdings, Inc. She retired from the Board in 2018. She was initially appointed to Employers Insurance Company of Nevada (formally the Nevada State Industrial Insurance System) by Governor Kenny Guinn. She was also the Chair of the Board of the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). She was appointed to the Nevada PERS Board by Governor Sandoval on July 1, 2011. She retired from the PERS Board in 2019.

Kathy got to know Steve Sisolak at the neighborhood gym and started dating her future husband in 2013. She first met him many years prior to dating him during his time as a Board of Regent then as a Clark County Commissioner. They married in December 2018 soon after Steve was elected as governor for the State of Nevada.

Contact Information:

Kristen Dillard, Executive Coordinator

(707) 687-3000


YeVonne Allen

YeVonne Allen, M.S. serves as the Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) Equity, Inclusion, and Sustainability Program Director and Interim Executive Director of Retention and Support Services. She champions the efforts for equity, inclusion, and diversity-related topics for students, staff, and faculty.

YeVonne holds a M.S. in Equity and Diversity in Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. She also holds DEI certificates from Harvard University and the University of Michigan.

YeVonne, a human rights advocate, sits on the City of Reno Civil Service Commission and is the Northern Nevada Pride Marketing Director.

Rooya Ayubi is a courageous immigrant daughter who escaped Afghanistan, walking across the desert with her family at the age of 6 and eventually settling in the U.S. 

Passionate about education, she received her Bachelor of Science from DeVry University in 2001. In later years, Rooya experienced a decade of deep depression, which launched her into a quest for modalities to heal herself and other trauma survivors. Since that time, she has self-educated herself and her children as a homeschooler and used storytelling therapeutically and for self-expression. She is also an advanced trainee and advocate of Sharon Strand Ellison’s work with Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ (PNDC). 

She is currently on the admin team of the East Bay Muslim homeschooler’s group. Through all this work she has worked on cultivating a sense of self-worth to heal herself. She is now trailblazing a path for other women to gain the hope and courage to find their voices to make impact in their lives and the lives of others.

Instagram: @strangerspath

Facebook: /lissia.ayub


Lily Baran

I am delighted to continue the fight for freedom and restorative justice with the ACLU of Nevada. Through the years I have coupled activism, research and artistry to better my community in creative ways and I hope to make these skills useful with this incredible organization.

Issues I am most passionate about are criminal justice reform, housing rights, and education. I believe that through work like that of the Mass Liberation Project, the answers lie in the mouths of the directly impacted and it is our job to listen and reimagine a world where there is room for all of us to rest, live, love and grow together.

In addition, I have an incredible son who is 12 years old, and we host a community mutual-aid garden called the Hampton House Garden Project in conjunction with Black Wall Street aimed at building community power with food justice.

Brian Beffort is the director of the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter.

Born at Washoe Medical Center, Brian is a fourth-generation Nevadan. He has degrees in anthropology from Reed College, journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and Sustainability & Environmental Management from Harvard University. His experience includes outdoor journalism (Adventure West and Sunset magazines and the Reno Gazette-Journal) and environmental nonprofits (Friends of Nevada Wilderness, the Great Basin Institute, Nevada Land Trust, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and the Sierra Club).

Brian’s greatest honor is getting to work on so many important issues with so many great and passionate activists.

He lives in Reno with his wife, 17-year-old son and dog.

A native of Argentina and a citizen of Switzerland and the U.S., Carina Black has lived in the United States since 1988. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1997 in comparative politics.

She is the first executive director of the Northern Nevada International Center, an organization that manages public diplomacy programs with funding from the U.S. Department of State and USAID.  Most recently, Black initiated a new project to resettle refugees in Northern Nevada.

As a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Black has taught courses in global studies, world politics, comparative politics, democratization, international organizations and Latin American politics. She has also been actively involved in international education for the local community, and support programs for minority groups.

Dr. Black is the mother of four children and is fluent in four languages.


Dr. Curry-Winchell obtained her medical degree at Ross University and completed her residency at the University of Nevada Reno Family Medicine, graduating in 2015. Board-certified, she is currently both a practicing physician, Regional Clinical Director, and interim co-director for DEIB for Carbon Health and Medical Director for Saint Mary’s Medical Group in Reno, NV.  She is also the Medical Director for the Washoe County Sexual Assault Response Team and volunteers as an Assistant Medical Examiner for Washoe County Child Protective Services.

Before becoming a physician, Dr. Curry-Winchell received a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Marietta, Ohio.

In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Curry-Winchell is a member of the Nevada Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, and a board member and PR chair for the Washoe County Medical Society, Nevada State Medical Association, Centene Silver Summit, PBS, and University of Nevada Alumni.

She has a passion and dedication to caring for and improving her community and highlighting health care disparities.   She has participated and organized webinars, rallies, and public service announcements to engage and advocate for community involvement. She received NV’s Young Physician Award and Boundary Breaker by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 2021 and in 2020 the PBS Reno Spotlight Extraordinary Neighbor award. Dr. Curry-Winchell is an active member of the Young Professionals Network, being awarded one of 2018’s Top 20 under 40 Brightest Leaders in Reno-Tahoe.  She was named Sierra Nevada Top 20 Most Powerful Women in 2019.  She participated in USA Today’s One Nation Health Care Panel in 2016 and participated in local and national television appearances and writes for several publications.  Dr. Curry-Winchell was recently invited to join the Governor’s Medical Advisory Board while serving on the Mayor’s COVID task force committee.  She and her husband enjoy life in Reno-Tahoe with their two young girls.

Diaz Dixon is Vice President of the national CommonSpirit Health Foundation. In his role, he will work closely with CommonSpirit clinical and program leaders to raise awareness and secure funding support for health equity, social justice and diversity programs. Dixon has a long history as a successful leader, fundraising and advocating for those in need. Before joining CommonSpirit Health, he served as the CEO of Eddy House, a multi-complex facility for homeless and at-risk youth, where he has raised millions in funding to grow the organization and provide housing, workforce development, health services and other needed support. Prior to joining Eddy House, Dixon served fourteen years as the CEO of STEP2, a nonprofit organization committed to breaking the cycle of addiction and violence in families. At  STEP2, he led highly successful fundraising and operational initiatives to build a multi-million dollar campus.

Dixon has been a highly respected community advocate for decades. He served for four years on the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sits on the Boards for Bishop Manogue and the State (Gambling and Addiction Counselors). He served four years consulting for the Cultural Competency and Diversity Network in Washington, DC under President Bush’s New Freedom Initiative.

Dixon received his master’s degree in education and counseling from University of Iowa and his bachelor’s degree in social psychology from the University of Nevada.

Patricia was born and raised in Los Angeles, Ca. She moved to Reno in 1990 with her husband Don, who she has been married to for more than 37  years. She retired from AT&T after 31 years. Patricia studied Social Work at Cal State Long Beach. During her professional career, she was chief steward and executive officer with Communications Workers of America for 25 years where her focus was on policy, contracts and negotiations.

Social justice and rights for others is one of her passions. She is the 1st Vice President of the Reno/Sparks branch of the NAACP and the current Environmental Climate Justice chair. Prior to that, she served as two term President of the branch. She is also the secretary of Democratic Women of Washoe County. Patricia is vice president of Nevada Alliance of Retired Americans for CWA, she is the Vice chair for The Black Caucus Of Washoe county Democrats, also a board member of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and Northern Nevada HOPES. She is on law enforcement panels in the Reno community.

Patricia is graduate of EMERGE Nevada class of 2013 and was a board member. She has  four children and seven grandchildren. Patricia owns a fitness and nutrition small business and is a certified Zumba and Zumba gold instructor which is her passion.


Atty is the Hillel Director for Northern Nevada-facilitating Jewish Life on campus for five of northern Nevada’s seven institutions of general higher education. She has worked in nonprofit services, education, and Jewish communal services for more than 15 years with synagogues, colleges, Jewish Federations, the ADL and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Atty believes fiercely in relationship building as a path to cooperative sustainable peace.

When not spending time coaching, teaching, or praying with students and faculty, Atty, enjoys spending time outdoors. She loves visiting the secret valleys of the Sierra Nevada mountains in which she lives with her spouse and children.

Justine Lee is the executive director of Living Room Conversations and co-creator of Make America Dinner Again. Her work is focused on building understanding across differences and inspiring civic engagement through small group conversations.

She has been a featured speaker and led workshops at SXSW, NCDD, Facebook, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Her work in the bridge-building space has been featured on CBS Evening News, NPR, The Guardian, USA Today, and the Glenn Beck Show. Justine sits on the Board of Directors for the Bridge Alliance and is a member of the Advisory Committee for WE ACT, a leading environmental justice nonprofit.

Justine lives in New York City.

Carla Ramazan

Carla Ramazan (she/her) is a co-founder of Wild West Access Fund (WWAF) of Nevada, an abortion fund that provides financial assistance in the form of grants to Nevadans. She has been intimately familiar with the topic of abortion access from a young age, having lost an aunt to an unsafe abortion during Romania’s total abortion ban.

During her college years, Carla spent her time protesting crisis pregnancy centers near campus and volunteering as an abortion clinic escort. In 2020, Carla was recognized for her public service by being awarded the Truman Scholarship.

She grew up in Reno (where she currently resides) and is an avid hiker, especially in the Tahoe area.

Sherrie Scaffidi

Sherrie Scaffidi is a transgender woman, a US Navy Seabee veteran, a Nevada Veterans Advocate, a widower and the father of three grown children. She lives in Carson City, and she came out as transgender, April 7, 2015.

She is the current president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the president of Transgender Allies Group (TAG).

She has been a non-paid lobbyist for LGBTQ rights in Nevada for the past few legislative sessions, and she spends much of her time educating people on transgender issues. She is also the moderator of several groups that support LGBTQ individuals.

Jas Tobon

Jasmin “Jas” Margarita (she/they) joins Northern Nevada Marches Forward with a career in LGBTQ+ advocacy, gender equality and reproductive rights and justice.

They are a Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada community organizer with a focus on the Latinx community, coalition building, and people power building. They are a highly self-motivated, adaptable and persistent organizer and community advocate.

She is also deeply thoughtful and passionate about the work challenging cultural norms and ideas by founding Avanzamos, a Latinx LGBTQ+ organization and serving on national and local boards and non-profits like the Wild West Abortion Access Fund and Creating Change’s Latinx Institute. She loves writing poetry and their plants.

MJ Ubando

MJ Ubando

MJ Ubando is a teacher, reader and eater. She was raised in Reno and is adulting in Sparks.

She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and earned her Master of Fine Arts from Sierra Nevada University. Her writing has been featured in This is Reno, The Reno News & Review and Nevada Humanities.

Wendy Wiglesworth

Wendy Wiglesworth is a definite local — born and raised in Reno. She is the Outreach Director with RISE (Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality), and has been with the organization for the last five years. She’s responsible for continuing their outreach efforts with our unhoused community and neighbors and sharing resources, supplies and trusting friendships.

With strong beliefs that everyone deserves a fair and equal chance, she keeps chances as an option for those who may need one. Helping to build a strong, connected community, her very different perspective can cause a ripple of new thoughts and ignite a fire of your own. She fights for equality of all classes and people.

You can wear diamonds or dirt, she feels all deserve the same opportunities and experiences in life. Never judge one by their shoes unless you have worn them.