Young Professionals Committee

A premier social network for established and emerging community leaders, committed to making a difference in Northern Nevada.


The Young Professionals Committee is a diverse group of dedicated men and women who volunteer their time, talent and energy to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada through such efforts as mentoring, educational programs, outreach, fundraising, and advocacy. With this in mind, YPC members strive to make a positive impact in the community in any way they can. We recognize that a little effort on our part can help change lives in a big way.

For those interested in becoming a part of the YPC, please email Nadia Gulistani.

Board of Directors

Nadia Gulistani, President

Nadia Gulistani works as a Clinical Researcher, overseeing pharmaceutical studies throughout the Pacific Northwest.  From initial review, to project implementation, management, and innovation, Nadia ensures pharmaceutical studies run safely and efficiently.  She received a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Sciences from the University of Nevada, Reno and a master’s degree in Clinical Research from Drexel School of Medicine.  During undergrad, she has worked extensively on public health projects, including Tobacco Cessation, HIV Awareness, and Sexual Health Education.   But she also took time to travel and explore the world, spending a significant amount of time in England, Turkey, and Pakistan.   

Nadia joined Big Brothers Big Sisters 10 years ago and has been a dedicated volunteer ever since.  In 2008, she was matched with her little sister, Sarah.  While the two enjoy spending time in the outdoors and traveling, both of them love to cook up a storm in the kitchen.  Their passion for cooking undoubtedly influenced Sarah to attend and graduate from culinary school in 2015.  Today, Sarah is a chef at the Co-Op and owns her own dessert business.  Nadia’s passion for mentorship also led her to join The Young Professionals Committee in 2014.  With her persistence (and of course, excellent cooking and event planning skills), the organization has grown significantly and she looks forward to building an even stronger mentorship presence in the community.

Cortney Tucker, Vice President

Cortney is the Director of Guest Experience at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. This includes overseeing all departments within Grand Sierra Resort and making sure they are all producing exceptional guest service, analyzing and responding to guest reviews through all survey and social media platforms, along with working with Leadership Teams to improve and build on overall guest experience through added amenities, features and benefits for their guests. Being involved in her community is very important to her and she is involved with several organizations in Reno including; GSR Cares, the Chamber, the Young Professional Network, Professional Saleswomen of Nevada and currently the Young Professional Committee. Some of her accomplishments include; graduating from California State University, Chico in 2013 with her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, leading her team to becoming the #1 Profitable Hotel through the Oxford Group in 2014 and being nominated for "Sales Woman of the Year" and making it to the “Final 5” in 2016 through the Professional Saleswomen of Nevada organization. Being YPC's Event Planner, Cortney is currently working on planning and organization membership meetings, networking events and Big and Little events led by the YPC. Cortney is also a Big Sister herself and enjoys taking her Little to different events in Reno, enjoying the outdoors and reading books together. During her free time she loves taking weekend trips to Tahoe with her husband, hiking with her two dogs and spending time with family and friends. Cortney's passion for working with children, planning events and having fun is what brought her to YPC

Laura Parra, Events Chair

Laura Parra is a lover of life! She is proud of all the titles she goes by; daughter, grand-daughter, friend, sister, auntie, Realtor, business owner, child advocate, coach, and philanthropy lover because she feels what she does is who she is. Her three main goals in life are to be a blessing, create memories, and build a legacy. Laura strives to be a reliable, caring person and believes her career of assisting people to buy and sell homes allows her to do that. She has been in the Real Estate industry for 6 years and couldn't see herself without it. 
When not working you can catch Laura hanging out with her family, at church, spending time with her "Little" Destiny, passing out food with the Food Bank, coaching her cheer team or getting an adrenaline rush by doing something crazy like sky-diving! Laura is a strong advocate for living life to the fullest and try's to make everything she can fun & memorable.

Katelyn Cantu, Big Chefs Big Gala Chair

Katelyn Cantu is a criminal defense attorney at the Washoe County Public Defender’s Office.  She currently represents those charged with criminal offenses but started out representing parents in civil child-welfare cases.  Prior to joining the Public Defender’s Office, Katelyn served as one of the first judicial law clerks to Chief Judge Michael Gibbons of the Nevada Court of Appeals.  She began her clerkship shortly after graduating from the William S. Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Having developed a passion for public service early on, Katelyn focused her studies in law school on international human rights and international criminal law.  That pursuit took her to India, Cambodia, Geneva, and ultimately Paris, where she interned for the United Nations. While in law school, she also worked on a Native American Reservation and on a clinical project addressing the conditions of immigrant detention in Nevada.  In her spare time, you can find her training for a Bikini Competition, Mt. Rainier, or an ultra-marathon.  While she eventually plans to return to school to obtain her LL.M. in international human rights, she is enjoying the Reno area and all the outdoor adventures it has to offer.   Katelyn joined the Young Professionals Committee in 2016 and was matched with her Little, Natalia, in February 2017.  She hopes to give Natalia the confidence, independence, and sense of adventure her father instilled in her.

Steven Hammonds, Membership Co-Chair

Steven Hammonds enjoys being involved with organizations that collaborate to give back to the Northern Nevada community. He grew up in Reno and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) with degrees in Spanish and Psychology. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Psychology at Mississippi State University, he realized that he missed home and returned to Reno to begin his career with an agency that offers behavioral and mental health services to families with lower socioeconomic status, foster children, and individuals with disabilities. Currently, he is the Development Director of The Life Change Center, where he helps lead a team to innovate in service provision to families who are battling addiction to pain pills and heroin. He is currently in pursuit of a Master's degree in Social Work at UNR and aspires to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

He was looking for a new way to engage with professionals who are inspired to positively impact the community when he was introduced to the Young Professionals Committee (YPC). In YPC, he immediately saw the value in volunteering to serve families in the region, and has enjoyed growing within this group of philanthropists. When Steven is not at work, school, or internship, he is usually hanging out with friends and family. Steven thoroughly enjoys playing basketball, snowboarding, jet skiing, traveling, and camping—any fun activities that are often exhilarating and that bond people together.

Jeff Panko, Committee Member 

Jeff Panko is the Branch Manager of United Federal Credit Union in Sparks/Spanish Springs. He develops new members and business relationships through business development within the community. He helps members by providing a broad base of financial and credit services to help the individual or business succeed financially.  Jeff is also on the Executive Board of The Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra (WACCS) and an Advisory Board Member of My Journey Home Inc. (MJH)

Jeff graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Business Management and Information Systems degree. He also earned a certification of Excellence in Non-Profit Management from the University of Nevada, Reno. Jeff is highly involved in the local community by being involved with the non-profits WACCS and MJH, networking organizations BNI, NCET and UNR Alumni Chapters, as well as staying connected as an alumni of the Sigma Nu Fraternity and as an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.   Jeff is excited to be on the Young Professionals Committee and looks forward to the ever growing mentorship presence that BBBSNN has created.