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 GSR 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.
Danny Schenker, Committee Member
Danny Schenker is a Client Advisory Associate 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 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, rock climbing, playing softball and enjoying the outdoors. Danny is excited to be a new member of the YPC.
Bo Cassel, Committee Member
Bo Cassel is a Senior Account Executive for Hometown Health. Working for the only local not for profit health insurance provider in Northern Nevada, Bo has the opportunity to partner with local businesses and other nonprofits to serve the community. Since he moved to the Reno area in 2011, Bo has been dedicated to the community, serving on multiple boards in Reno and volunteering his time to the causes he cares about. A few of his favorite events with Big Brothers and Big Sisters are the summer barbeque, Wine & Chocolate Night and the Big Chefs Big Gala. Bo graduated from Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York, where he was a student-athlete, playing tight end for the Seawolves football team.
Bo is proud to be a Big and has been matched with his little, Jose, for just over three years now. Being a Big Brother inspires Bo to be his best self to help his Little to feel empowered to succeed. Bo is hopeful that as a Young Professional Committee Board Member he can increase support for this wonderful program and recruit new Bigs.
Dominic Martin, Committee Member
Dominic is a 15-year resident of Reno and currently works at The Renaissance Reno Downtown in Event Sales, in addition to various volunteer roles throughout the community. He has successfully collaborated with other local businesses and corporations in the area on events to create brand awareness and drive engagement. In his free time, Dominic teaches Irish dance, hikes, and explores Northern Nevada.
My interest in serving on the YPC stems from discovering the dedication and passion of those in our community that see great potential in mentoring our younger generations as well as the endless possibilities for collaboration to drive resources for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. I have experience in bringing together partners and voices from various parts of the community to promote involvement and engagement through small business initiatives and events. Those that have worked with me over the years can attest to both my passion and commitment to whatever I do.
Colton Loretz, Committee Member
Colton Loretz is a Las Vegas native and UNR alum, who has been bouncing between Vegas, Reno, and Seattle the last few years for work and school. Now, after graduating from the William S. Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, Colton is permanently back in Reno working as an associate attorney at Woodburn and Wedge.
In Colton’s free time he enjoys cycling, running, and being outdoors when he can. He is excited to get to know more people in the community and get more involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. Colton is a Big Brother and is thrilled to see the impact that he can have on youth in our community. He looks forward to all the new and fun things that BBBSNN will be doing and can’t wait to meet other Bigs!
Chris McCain, Committee Member
Chris McCain began his real estate career in property management almost 13 years ago right here in the “biggest little city in the world.” Additionally, he has been buying and selling investment real estate on his own account for more than 6 years now. Most recently he has taken on the role of Vice President of Investments for DL Realty, where he assists his clients with acquisition and sales of investment property in the Reno/Sparks market.
A native Nevadan born and raised in Reno, Chris enjoys volunteering and raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. When Chris is not working he enjoys snowboarding, playing golf, hockey, Lake Tahoe and spending time with his family and friends.
Skyler Dillon, BBBSNN Liaison
Skyler Dillon was born and raised in Reno and graduated with a B.A. in English literature after attending UNR and UC Berkeley. After starting her career in human resources here in Reno, she found she really wanted to be working for an organization that was making a difference in our community. As Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada’s Fund Development Coordinator and liaison to the Young Professionals Committee, she has the opportunity to support the important mentoring work of BBBSNN by working on events like Big Chefs Big Gala, Over the Edge, and Big Hearts Big Impact.
As a Big Sister to Nathaniel and volunteer with other community organizations including the American Cancer Society and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Skyler is finding more reasons every day to be grateful to call northern Nevada home. In her spare time you can often find her hiking, camping or enjoying one of our many beautiful lakes or festivals with her husband, dog, family and friends.
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. Outside of work and YPC, Griffin enjoys spending time outdoors, usually in the Tahoe region. He is an avid camper, skier, paddle-boarder and boater, and active member of Grace Church. He is looking forward to his upcoming wedding to fiancée Laura Parra and the opportunity to start their own family!
Yami Gutierrez, Marketing Chair
Yami is currently employed with the Human Services Agency of Washoe County. Her ten years of experience working closely with organizations and agencies in the Lake Tahoe community brought her to her current position. Yami grew up in Lake Tahoe and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Sierra Nevada College. As part of her study program, Yami apprenticed as a Midwife, and obtained both EMT and Birth Doula certification. This led her to her passion in community health which is expressed in her professional and volunteer work with local non-profits. She has worked with various organizations in the Lake Tahoe community to engage the Latino community and its youth in the outdoors, including the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, and Adventure Risk Challenge. While volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club, she was able to work closely with the community to empower healthier living practices. Formerly also employed with Adventure Risk Challenge, she supported youth to make changes in their lives and communities through outdoor literacy and leadership skills.
When she isn’t working, you can find her in the outdoors with her beautiful eight-year old daughter. They love exploring the Lake communities and surrounding wilderness, as well as their new home in Reno. Extending exploration and connection with wilderness to all youth, especially youth of color, continues to be a strong motivation for Yami, who has also served as a Big Sister. Her goal is to empower and strengthen our communities through education and other growth opportunities and is looking forward to being a part of the Young Professionals Committee to support the growth of BBBSNN!
Taylor Trowbridge, Committee Member
Taylor Trowbridge has lived in the Reno/Sparks area for almost her entire life. She graduated from the University of Nevada Reno with a dual degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. She is currently pursuing a masters in Educational Leadership. Taylor has been a Special Education teacher at a high school in Sparks for more than five years where she works with students on the autism spectrum. She has also been actively involved in Unified Sports Special Olympics Northern Nevada, piloting the program at the high school where she works and helping to bring the program to other schools in the area. She recently was named one of the 2017 School Volunteers of The Year for Special Olympics Nevada.
In her free time Taylor is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. She has been matched with her little, Naumy, for almost eight years. They enjoy hanging out, cooking, crafting, playing games and share a love of all things Disney. Taylor also enjoys spending time with her husband and her dogs. Taylor has a twin sister who lives in Southern California. To relax she reads, cross-stitches and watches her favorite show, Ellen.
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.