What is the Women’s Leadership Council?

Formed to Change Lives In Nevada
United Way of Southern Nevada Women’s Leadership Council promotes community involvement and philanthropic giving among women in our community with the purpose of furthering United Way’s community-based agenda. United Way is in a unique position to leverage the collective giving ability of women leaders in the community.

WLC | Mission and Vision

Our mission is to engage and develop our members to be leaders in creating impactful change in our community through education, health and financial stability.

The vision of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) is to strengthen the social landscape by engaging women leaders to inspire others in taking action, creating long-lasting change in the community. This influential group, led by volunteer co-chairwomen Rhonda Clausen and Deb Mele-Blanchard, is forging the way to a better future through their gifts of time, leadership and financial support. The intent is to bring local philanthropic women to the front lines to address the community’s most pressing needs.

About Women’s Leadership Council
United Way of Southern Nevada’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) is part of a national network of dedicated women philanthropists who have collectively raised over $1B in supporting United Way’s mission in the areas of Health, Education and Financial Stability. In southern Nevada, the WLC has raised over $1.3M in just six years, investing their dollars in critical projects which are changing lives. From empowering at-risk teens to graduate, to helping young children learn how to read, to providing underserved students a medical home and preventative healthcare, to supporting on-the-edge women in their quest for employment and financial independence, these dynamic and generous women are truly change agents for the community.

WLC at Work
The Women’s Leadership Council has aligned closely with United Way of Southern Nevada’s key impact areas. Members of the WLC take action in improving the lives of Southern Nevada’s children by their role in a number of critically important community projects.

The WLC Family Engagement Resource Centers
The WLC has invested over $500,000 in United Way’s Family Engagement Resource Centers (FERCs). The Family Engagement Resource Centers are located in 5 local high schools and target underserved teens who may be at risk of dropping out. Through their involvement, these teens and their families receive support, comfort and resources to strengthen the home-school connection and assist in keeping kids on track to graduate. The FERCs are located in the following schools:

  • Clark
  • Sunrise Mountain
  • Eldorado
  • Western
  • Silverado

Breakfast with Books
In partnership with Spread the Word Nevada, the WLC sponsors “Breakfast with Books” once a month at Dean Peterson Elementary School. Families are treated to a light breakfast, a book reading, and a free developmentally appropriate and enriching book to build their home libraries.  The excitement and smiles on the children’s faces as they choose their new books is truly heartwarming. And, to see the timelessness and relevance of some of our favorites like Dr. Suess’ “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” is just amazing.

The Grand “Re-opening” of Martinez Elementary Health Clinic
Shuttered in June of 2013, the Martinez Health Clinic needed funding to re-open its doors to serve nearly 2500 children a year. Both “un” and “under-insured”, these children needed primary preventative care, immunizations, and sick care. Without the WLC, CCSD, and Positively Kids, the clinic would have remained dark. Opened this past January 2014, the clinic is being visited by many appreciative patients and community members.

WLC Scholarship
The WLC will kick off its first ever Scholarship Program this June 2014. Two highly deserving high school graduates will be granted the WLC Scholarship to assist with much needed college costs.

WLC Annual Suit Drive
In its 6th year,  the WLC Suit Drive coalesces our community together for donation of suits and professional items for women in need. These items are donated to agencies serving women in back-to-work programs. While we gathered over 7,000 items this past November, it takes just one suit to enable success and independence. Through this community event, we really are changing lives, one hanger at a time!

The WLC has other projects in the works, check back for more information!


WLC Meeting and Events Calendar

Please mark your calendars. See you there!


May 13, 2014 (Tue)
7:30 AM – 9:00 AM
Dean Petersen Elementary School

Breakfast with Books | Last one before Summer
The Breakfast with Books project is a monthly event held, in partnership with Spread the Word Nevada, on the 2nd Tuesday of each month during the 9 month school calendar at Dean Petersen Elementary School. This is a family event, and each child chooses a book to take home. Through the activities, parents learn expressiveContinue Reading


May 14, 2014 (Wed)
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Executive Leadership Series – High Tea
Executive Leadership Series – High Tea Jeri Crawford – Las Vegas Philharmonic Laura Hoenemeyer’s home More information to follow


May 21, 2014 (Wed)
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Executive Committee & General Membership Meetings
Executive Committee Meeting           10:00 AM – 11:30AM (Executive Conference Room)   General Membership – Networking   11:00 AM – 11:30 AM General Membership Meeting           11:35 AM – 1:00 PM (Meeting will start promptly at 11:35 AM) in UWSN – Board room. Voting on 2014-2015 WLC Projects


June 11, 2014 (Wed)
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Las Vegas Country Club

WLC Installation Luncheon
Cost is $45 prepaid. 11:00am to 11:30am Networking 11:30am to 1:00pm Buffet Lunch & Meeting

WLC Executive Committee 2013-2014


WLC Co-Chairs Rhonda Clausen
Deb Mele–Blanchard
Vice Chair Angel Williams
WLC Chair Emeritus Shelley M. Dubin
Family Engagement Resource Center (F.E.R.C.) / Mentoring Co-Chairs Sandy Dewees
Doris Krick
Barbara Doble
Outreach & Membership Engagement Co-Chairs Janet Linder
Della Tisher
Project Funding Co-Chairs Judy Kropid
Nancy Reel
Leadership Co-Chairs Shelley M. Dubin
Laura Hoenemeyer
Nominating Co-Chairs Shelley M. Dubin
Robbie Graham
Volunteerism Co-Chairs Kimberly Planchunas
Rebecca Howell
Members at Large V. Joy Avedesian
Susan Best
Carol Brink
Leslie Morpeth
Emily Neilson
Linda Staley
Rosemary West



WLC Member List

Anne Aniello-Wayman
Victoria Joy Avedesian
Janice Paligutan Barr
Jody Belsick

Philamee Bennett
Susan Best

Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher
Mikey Bilbray
Kathryn Bonello
Linda Bonnici

Elizabeth Brickfield
Carol Brink

Paula Browne
Beth Campbell

Chris Cappas
Britta Carlson
Diane M. Carlson
Robyn Caspersen
Virginia Christenson
Rhonda Clausen
Cheryl A. Constantino
Denette Corrales
Jeri Crawford
Rachelle M. Crupi
Krista J. Darnold
Rita DeSimone
Sandra L. Dewees
Barbara Doble
Jenna Doughton
Shelley M. Dubin
Doretha Easler
Nikki Etherington
Jennifer Fickel
Carole Fisher
Jill Fournier
Abbie G. Friedman
Lindsay Garcia
Maria Jose Gatti
Kate Gilman
Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman
Jeanne Goodrich
Tammy Grabel
Robbie Graham
Carol C. Harter, Ph D.
Julie Higgins
Danylle Hitchen

Laura K. Hoenemeyer
Nancy Houssels
Rebecca Howell
Deanna Iniguez
Florence Jameson, M.D.
Terri Janison
Cathy Jones
Christine Karl
Bea Katz
Lynda Keeton-Cardno
Linda Kirk

Doris J. Krick
Judy Kropid
Dawn Labonte
Tanya LaCosse
Dee Ladd
Lawrel K. Larsen
Marsha Larson
Rosemary Lato
Ruth Lauber
Cynthia Lee
Nami Lee
Janet Linder
Sharon Lipscomb

Holly Lloyd
Linda Marvin
Punam Mathur
Betty Mayer
Rosamari McNulty
Josephine McPeak
Deb Mele-Blanchard
Dianne Merkey
Amy Meyer
Connie Micatrotto
Darlene Miller
Sandi Milton
Bobbi Miracle
Jennifer Morgan
Leslie Morpeth
Shari Morrison
Emily T. Neilson
Ann Simmons Nicholson
Helen Palmer
Jane Ann Pete-Kasick
Shannon Petersen

Kimberly Planchunas
Audrey Plotkin
Jillian Prieto
Kate Puterman
Sharry Quillin
Phyllis Radack
Nancy Reel
Ingrid Reisman
Dilek Samil

Tammy Seichi
Linda Seedig

Keri Serrano
Brenda Shank
Allyn Jaffrey Shulman
Monte Smith
Lori Soren
Marilyn Spiegel
Linda Staley
Judy Stokey
Lizette B. Sundvick
Della Tilsher
Lori Tuntland
Lori Ware
Rosemary West
Carolyn Wheeler
Angel Williams
Nancy Wong
Tara Young

Please, welcome our New Members!

Ways To Get Involved | Executive Committee Descriptions

Nominating Committee | Shelley M. Dubin and Robbie Graham, Co-Chairs
Committee is responsible for recommending WLC members to serve on the WLC Executive Committee and annually nominating a slate of Officers when vacancies occur.

Project Funding Committee | Judy Kropid and Nancy Reel, Co-Chairs
The Committee partners with United Way’s Community Development department and the Health, Education and Financial Stability Councils to identify, review,and propose projects to the WLC Executive Committee  and general membership for approval.

Family Engagement Resource Centers (F.E.R.C.) Committee | Sandy Dewees, Doris Krick and Barbara Doble, Co-Chairs
The goals of this five year initiative include site-based strategies in 5 local high schools to increase communication with parents about student requirements to graduate on time and achieve post-secondary success.  Teams are created at Clark, Eldorado, Silverado, Sunrise Mountain and Western to assist AmeriCorps staff members with events and mentoring opportunities. Committee meets to assess and organize a program relative as to how volunteers from the WLC could best assist and mentor high school students in the five WLC high schools with the FERC program to promote their career development and financial stability.

Outreach & Membership Engagement Committee | Janet Linder and Della Tisher, Co-Chairs
Committee plans, implements and promotes networking, programs and opportunities for current and prospective WLC members that may include outreach events, follow- up strategies and membership engagement activities.

Leadership Committee | Shelley M. Dubin and Laura Hoenemeyer, Co-Chairs
Committee is responsible for planning “members only” events for the purpose of: 1) sharing the interest and promoting the involvement of the members, and 2) educating and inspiring women on relevant or community–based topics.  Events may include, but are not limited to, Breakfast in the Boardroom meetings and Leadership Luncheons that offer intimate one-on-one opportunities to meet with community female leaders.

Annual Women’s Luncheon Committee | Janet Linder and Judy Kropid, Co-Chairs
Committee plans and implements the annual luncheon with the purpose of creating awareness about the Women’s Leadership Council and its mission and accomplishments, encouraging participation and recruiting new members.

Volunteerism Committee | Kim Planchunas and Rebecca Howell, Co-Chairs
Committee identifies and coordinates volunteer projects that are in alignment with United Way’s core mission areas. Projects/sub-committee may include but are not limited to: Annual Women’s Suit Drive, Annual Women’s Luncheon and the Women’s Career Development Mentoring. 

Career Development Mentoring Committee | Doris Krick and Barbara Doble, Co-Chairs
One on one mentoring with women at The Shade Tree in their back to work program so they have a positive job-interview experience.

For more information about becoming a member of the Women’s Leadership Council, contact: Lawrel K. Larsen  |  Director, Women’s Leadership/Major Gifts at LawrelL@uwsn.org or 702-892-2319.

featured photos

WLC Featured Photos | November 2013

wlc news

Nancy Houssels Highlighted for her Impact on Nevada

Screenshot 2014-04-01 09.20.05

In an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal from Sunday, March 30th, eight women were highlighted by author and historian Michael Green for their significant impact on the state of Nevada. Read about our very own Nancy Houssels– very impressive! But we knew that already…

Nancy Houssels

Nancy Houssels was born in California and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in theatre arts.

Houssels came to Las Vegas to perform in “Folies Bergère” at the Tropicana and retired in 1969 when she married J. Kell Houssels, the casino’s president. With Folies lead dancer Vassili Sulich, Houssels co-founded the Nevada Dance Theatre, which become the Nevada Ballet Theatre in 1997.

“The Houssels family has done a lot to promote culture in this area,” Green said. “The ballet was most prominent, but they were also active in the process that led to The Smith Center.”

Houssels is a board member of the UNLV Foundation, The Meadows School and the Nevada International Women’s Forum, among others.

“We don’t think of women performing on the Strip, necessarily, in this way,” Green said. “She was not the traditional Strip performer and she has not been the traditional retired Strip performer.”

Read the entire article.

Member News | March 2014

A heartfelt welcome to: Janice Paligutan Barr – Diamond Resorts International Philamee Bennett – Caesars Entertainment Mikey Bilbray Paula Browne – Wells Fargo Roberta Gardner – Wells Fargo Betty Mayer – UNLV Foundation Jane Ann Pete-Kasick – National Security Technologies Ingrid Reisman – Las Vegas Monorail Tara Young – Diamond Resorts International If you haveContinue Reading

UWSN/WLC Martinez Clinic in Business Press

Member News | January 2014

Carole Fisher, president and CEO of Nathan Adelson Hospice recently hosted a death dinner party for 17 relatives and friends.  According to the December 2013 AARP Bulletin newsletter, this topic is becoming “a hot topic of conversation at boomer dinner parties.  Our society doesn’t like to talk about death but someone has to take aContinue Reading

2013 WLC Suit Drive Video

Member News | November 2013

WLC will be receiving the Organization Award at the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada 10th Annual ATHENA Leadership Awards on December 6, 2013. The Athena Organizational Leadership Award recognizes an organization that creates a culture to encourage women to achieve their full leadership potential. The organization also gives back to the larger community ofContinue Reading