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 ignite, inspire and defend potential.
For those interested in becoming a part of the YPC, please email Laura Kirsch
Board of Directors
Laura Parra, President
Reno native Laura Kirsch loves her hometown, and she’s very bullish on Reno’s future. Previously a "Little" herself, Laura is a firm believer that one positive influence can change the trajectory of a child's life forever. That is why Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada is Laura's favorite non-profit organization to support, and she currently serves as the Young Professionals Committee’s 2020 president. Professionally, Laura works in real estate, focusing on small new development and urban revitalization. Laura has two main philosophies: First, honesty is the best policy; and second, communication is critically important. Laura is dedicated to keeping her clients in the loop at every stage of the purchasing or sales process. Outside of work, Laura enjoys many outdoor activities with her husband, Griffin, who also works on the Young Professionals Committee, as well as her daughter Adlee and friends. She enjoys volunteering too and spends many hours giving back to her community through Grace Church in Reno.
Colton Loretz, Vice President
Colton is a civil attorney at Woodburn and Wedge, which has served the northern Nevada community for more than 100 years. Colton focuses his practice primarily on commercial law and business transactions, such as mergers & acquisitions, contracts, and real property. He enjoys helping clients by resolving issues with contracts, structuring deals to acquire or sell assets or businesses, and crafting creative solutions in negotiation with opposing parties and counsel. Colton is a past Big Brother and Secretary of the Young Professionals Committee. He currently serves as Vice President of YPC and sits on BBBSNN's Gala Committee. He enjoys furthering the mission of BBBSNN by supporting the organization’s fundraising and event planning efforts. In Colton’s free time, he enjoys being outdoors and cycling, running, paddleboarding, playing tennis, or hiking. Colton recently picked up yoga and PiYo, which are surprisingly more difficult than they sound, but help him stay fit considering his job requires sitting at a desk a lot of the day! He is excited to get to know more people in the community through his involvement with BBBSNN and YPC. Please feel free to reach out to Colton directly if you have any questions about BBBSNN, if you want to become a Big, or want to learn how to join YPC and do more in your community.
Griffin Kirsch, Treasurer
Griffin Kirsch cherishes genuine people, those finding success in adversity, and those who are creating opportunity for themselves regardless of where they came from. He became involved with YPC and BBBSNN two years ago because of the opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life, and is thrilled to be a part of such a special group. Griffin is a Big Brother to Little Brother Hugo, who is currently finishing up second grade. Griffin is excited to see Hugo grow up, succeed at life, do well in school, give it his all at sports (if he's into that!), and build amazing friendships ... all with Griffin at his side. Griffin promised Hugo and himself to be the best role model he could be when they started their match, and he’s looking forward to fulfilling his promise.
Griffin was born and raised in Reno, NV. He was a baseball player throughout his high school and college careers, both in California and at the University of Nevada. He graduated with a Finance and Accounting degree at the top of his class. He now owns his own business in the finance and insurance industry and works with individuals, families, and businesses to develop their financial strategy and planning. As a self-taught entrepreneur who finds enjoyment in learning, researching and challenging himself, Griffin loves what he does. In his free time you can find him spending time with wife Laura and daugher Adlee. Griffin enjoys the outdoors, usually in the Tahoe region. He is an avid camper, skier, paddle-boarder and boater, and active member of Grace Church.
Rebecca Reyes, Co-Secretary
Rebecca Reyes works at Northern Nevada HOPES, a nonprofit health center that works to provide affordable and high-quality medical, behavioral health, and support services for the Northern Nevada community. As the credentialing and volunteer specialist she is committed to connecting the community with the work that HOPES does by finding ways for interns and volunteers to be organically matched within the agency. She brings students and volunteers of all backgrounds together to learn and understand how they can put their skillset to use in the healthcare setting. She also helps providers navigate the workflow of insurance credentialing in order to have each provider paneled with various insurances to streamline billing of claims for patients. In addition to working at HOPES, Rebecca is part of the CBESS Community of Practice, where she helps provide connections and encouragement for bilingual Spanish-speaking professionals in Reno to explore more careers in STEM. Additionally, Rebecca is a communications committee member for The Discovery Museum, where she helps individuals from different industries learn more about the work done at the Discovery and assists with events and fundraisers as needed. She joined YPC more than two years ago to support the mission of youth mentorship through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada and is so grateful to have done so. She enjoys being surrounded by amazing philanthropically driven individuals with the same shared goal of empowering local youth. She knows how the mentors of her past helped shape her in the present and hopes to do the same by supporting BBBSNN through her work on YPC. Rebecca’s work is to encourage volunteering and supporting her agency with provider credentialing; but her passion is being out in the community where she can volunteer, connect people and help others. In her free time you can find her hiking with friends, spoiling her nieces, helping friends plan their parties and networking. She is a Renoite through and through and loves her Silver State – she considers Nevada Day to be one of her favorite holidays.
Danny Schenker, Co-Secretary
Danny Schenker is a Client Advisor with the Whittier Trust Company of Nevada. Danny provides financial and fiduciary services to high net worth individuals and their families and works closely with multi-generational relationships. He works extensively in the areas of trust and agency administration including document review, fiduciary accounting, investments, finance, real estate, taxes and estate planning. Danny has more than three years of experience at the Whittier Trust Company of Nevada. He started as an intern while attending the University of Nevada, where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in economics and finance. Danny is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) as well as a graduate of the Cannon Financial Institute’s Trust School and holds the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation. In his free time, you can find Danny snowboarding, golfing, playing softball and enjoying the outdoors.
Cortney Tucker, Past 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. A big part of that is 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 works with several organizations in Reno including GSR Cares, GSR Cares Volunteers, the TMCC Hospitality and Tourism Advisory Board, Young Professionals Committee (past president), and the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. 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, being nominated for "Sales Woman of the Year" in 2016 and 2019; and making it to the “Final 5” in 2016 through the Professional Saleswomen of Northern Nevada organization. She was recently accepted to the MBA program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Cortney was also a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters from 2016 to 2019 and enjoyed taking her Little to different events in Reno, enjoying the outdoors, and reading books together. During her free time she loves taking weekend trips with her husband and son, hiking with her two dogs and spending time with family and friends.
Steven Hammonds, Committee Member
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. He has been working with The Life Change Center since 2017, where he helps lead a team to innovate in service provision to families who are battling addiction to pain pills and heroin. He has completed his master's degree in Social Work at UNR and aspires to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. In 2015, 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 working or volunteering, he is usually hanging out with friends and family. Steven enjoys playing basketball, snowboarding, jet skiing, traveling, and camping—any fun activities that are exhilarating and that bond people together.
Katelyn Cantu, Committee Member
Katelyn Cantu is a Deputy Public Defender in the Washoe County Public Defender’s Office. In other words, she represents people accused of crimes who cannot afford an attorney. You have heard of Miranda rights yeah? You know - “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; you have the right to an attorney, and the right to have an attorney present during questioning; if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you at public expense.” That’s Katelyn. 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. In law school, Katelyn undertook studies in international human rights and international criminal law in India, Cambodia, Geneva, and ultimately Paris, where she interned for the United Nations. Although a native of Las Vegas, Katelyn moved to Reno in March 2015. She joined the Young Professionals Committee in 2016 and became a Big Sister in 2017. She hopes to give her Little the confidence, independence, and sense of adventure Katelyn’s father instilled in her. Katelyn has also served on the Board of the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Nevada and coaches the Wooster High School Mock Trial Team. In her spare time, you probably won’t find her. She’s often out of cell service range in a wilderness area, training to climb some big mountain.
Jeremy Wilson, Committee Member
Jeremy Wilson is a practicing Civil Engineer Licensed in three states (Idaho, Nevada, & Oregon). He has experience designing and managing a wide range of infrastructure improvements including potable water treatment, water distribution systems, drinking water wells, booster stations, wastewater treatment facilities, sewer collection systems, lift stations, water and wastewater facility planning documents, facility instrumentation and control, and municipal capital improvement plans. The Keller Associates Reno office opened in 2018 and Jeremy has since grown the company market share, established new clients, and hired employees. In addition to strengthening his technical engineering skills, this opportunity has allowed Jeremy to hone his leadership, project management, business development, and marketing skills. Jeremy is passionate about providing quality infrastructure improvement projects to the Northern Nevada area, and strives to give back to the community.
Joe Rutski, Committee Member
Joe Rutski is a local entrepreneur and businessman who enjoys giving back to the northern Nevada community. Joe served 12 years in the US Army as a medic and was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Although he has traveled throughout the world, Reno is still his favorite place to live. HE holds a B.S. in Business Management from UNR as well as his Series 7 and EMT licenses and, outside of the military, has a background in financial advising. Joe has been fortunate enough to have had mentors throughout his life, starting with his older brothers, and is happy to work with an organization that promotes the meaningful friendships between Bigs and Littles. When he's not working or hanging out with YPC, you can typically find Joe seeking adventure - skydiving, hunting, traveling or surfing.
Brian Kehoe, Committee Member
Brian Kehoe is a 3rd generation Nevadan and graduate of Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno. While working toward his degrees, however, Brian took a leave of absence from college to pursue a modeling career in Los Angeles. In a very short time, Brian made his way into high-fashion magazines and found himself walking down the runway. He also appeared on a reality television series for three seasons. Even though his experience in Los Angeles was a once in a lifetime adventure, Brian eventually returned to his roots. He values education and wanted to complete his studies. Indeed, his family's commitment to higher learning is demonstrated by his mother's PhD in educational leadership and work as the principal of Verdi Elementary School and his sister’s career teaching third grade at St. Albert's. Additionally, Brian gained much insight and experience around construction and real estate while growing up because his father was a homebuilder. Today, Brian is employed by the State of Nevada working for the Department of Health and Human Services. Given recent events, Brian feels blessed to be in the center of a field that directly contributes to the support of victims and patients of COVID-19. In his spare time, he supports University of Nevada athletics and serves on the Young Professionals Committee of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada.
Keenan Polan, Committee Member
Keenan is a sports executive and entrepreneur. His passions include health and wellness, connecting and influencing people and providing value and expertise in collaboration, networking and strategic partnerships. Keenan and his Little, Juan, have been matched since 2014 and they enjoy visiting local restaurants, watching movies and talking about Juan’s dreams and goals. Keenan loves helping his local community and will work to continue to bring more awareness to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. Keenan enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and dogs. His favorite activities in the Reno-Tahoe area are playing golf, snowboarding, hiking and cliff jumping.
Nathan Wilkerson, Committee Member
Nathan Wilkerson began his career with Umpqua Bank on the Corporate Team in Reno, NV in 2017. He helps businesses in northern Nevada with their financial needs. While working different roles at Umpqua and pursuing a degree in economics with the University of Nevada, Reno, Nathan developed a passion for banking and finance. One thing that he loves about his role with Umpqua is that it allows him to help community businesses and encourages hands-on work with other community organizations. Nathan has enjoyed being a Big Brother with BBBSNN for more than 2 years and recently became a member of the Young Professionals Committee. Nathan is a graduate of Leadership Reno-Sparks class of 2019 and enjoys roles with other community non-profit organizations. In his free time Nathan enjoys anything outdoors. Growing up in northern Nevada, most of his free time was spent hiking, fishing, or hunting. He has recently taken up canoeing and mountain biking to really take advantage of all this area has to offer. Cooking is also something he has always had a passion for; since he completed a short stint as a line cook, the kitchen is always a good place to find him. Nathan is excited to be involved with BBBSNN and looking forward to what the future holds!
Taylor Cain, Committee Member
Taylor Cain is the Chief Executive Officer of the O’Cathain Group, a family-owned business that owns and operates six Sonic Drive-In franchises and two Sola Salon franchises. Driven by the saying “It isn’t what happens to you in life, but how you react to it,” Ms. Cain takes pride in continuing her family’s legacy of owning and operating businesses in Northern Nevada. She was raised in Reno and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a business marketing degree. Her future business goals include continuing to add more franchise locations in the coming years. She is happiest outside enjoying all the Reno-Tahoe area has to offer such as hiking, skiing, and golfing. Taylor is committed to making her community a better place. She joined YPC in the hopes of becoming a big and being able to mentor someone as others have mentored her.
Nadia Gulistani, Committee Member
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 more than 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 the head Pastry Chef at Roxy. 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.