Rayona Sharpnack is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Women's Leadership, an organization renowned since 1991 for its groundbreaking initiatives in leadership and organizational effectiveness. Drawing from highly successful careers in education, professional sports, and business, Sharpnack is an inspirational teacher, coach and mentor to senior executives across industries. She is also co-founder of GenderAllies, an alliance of inclusion professionals committed to full gender partnership.

Sharpnack's clients include Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, universities and nonprofits, including Pfizer, Gap Inc., Hertz, Cardinal Health, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard and World Pulse. Her masterful approach takes complex theoretical concepts and distills them into memorable and easily grasped learning. More than 20,000 women and men – from mid-level managers to C-suite executives – have relied on her and the Institute for Women's Leadership to coach them to achieve breakthrough results both at work and in their personal lives.

Her pioneering work has earned her numerous awards and appointment as Chairwoman of Leadership Development on the Women's Leadership Board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Sharpnack has presented her outstanding achievements in advancing women leaders and building high-performance organizations to prestigious institutions and associations such as Harvard University, Stanford Business School, U.C. Berkeley's Hass School of Business, State of the World Forum, Canadian Federal Government, AustralianFederalGovernment, LeadershipAmerica, and Professional and Business Women of California.National publications including Fast Company and The New York Times have showcased her leadership model.

The core of Sharpnack's success is a methodology she calls Contextual Leadership. This paradigm-shifting approach is detailed in her book Trade Up: 5 Steps for Redesigning Your Leadership & Life from the Inside Out. Sharpnack is also a contributing author to the books Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership and Goddess Shift: Women Leading for a Change, which counts Michelle Obama, Suze Orman, and Oprah Winfrey among its contributors. 

We are proud to welcome Rayona as our Keynote Speaker and the Institute for Women's Leadership as official sponsor for this year's Women As Change Maker's event.


Kim Wyatt is the publisher of the award-winning press Bona Fide Books in South Lake Tahoe, where she runs the Center for Wayward Writers, home to Tahoe Writers Works, the Lake Tahoe Society for Storytelling & Enlightenment, and a letterpress print shop. Kim has presented at conferences around the country on how to build literary community and the power of story to change lives. She is also the co-founder of Tahoe WordWave, a festival of story to debut October 9-11, 2015 at South Lake Tahoe, CA.


Jessi LeMay was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. In 2006, after earning her degree in photography and living in different states across the country, she decided to move her business to the town she grew up in. She has been a small business owner, of Jessi LeMay Creative, for the last ten years. Brides, bellies, and babies have been the focus of her lens and the subjects of her unique combination of photography and short films. In 2013, Jessi founded The Folk & The Lore when she saw that the storytelling movement, going on across the country, was only happening in large cities. Two years later, The Folk & The Lore, Inc. has monthly Live Storytelling Events hosted by Nevada Museum of Art, exploring such topics as Neo-Tribalism, Goodwill, Revenge, and The Creative Process. In addition to inviting local storytellers on stage to share their own personal narrative, Jessi produces short, documentary format films that are also viewed during the storytelling events. June of 2015 presented an entirely new challenge for Jessi, when she was invited to participate in a Digital Storytelling team that traveled to South Sudan. Jessi spent two weeks collecting the stories of individuals that have benefited from micro-lending, financial inclusion, and the educational programs implemented by the organizations Five Talents, World Concern, and The Mother’s Union.


Kristin York is the Director of Business Innovation for Sierra Business Council where she brings her 20 years of experience in strategic planning, finance, operations, marketing, and business transformation to help entrepreneurs thrive economically while understanding their environmental and social impact.

Kristin’s life work is focused on creating a more sustainable, equitable economy. Through her work with Cutting Edge Capital and Sustainametrics, she deeply engaged with mission driven clients to design alternative financing strategies and climate action plans for local governments and businesses. Previous experience includes Marketing Manager for Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Lean Manufacturing Director for Hexcel Corporation and Senior Manager at Andersen Consulting where she specialized in financial and operational restructuring, strategic business planning, crisis mitigation, and advising businesses in their return to financial viability. Kristin is also a Professor of Sustainable Urban Development and Implementation of Sustainable Business at Presidio Graduate School and dedicates time to two of her passions, recreation and food by serving as Board Chair for the Truckee Donner Parks and Recreation District and on the Board of the Tahoe Food Hub.

More than anything in the world, Kristin loves spending time with her family, exploring, traveling, cooking and just generally laughing. She finds her zen in the outdoors trail running, backcountry skiing, mountain biking and dipping into remote alpine lakes.


Susie Sutphin is a 16-year Truckee resident. Her varied careers have brought her from a backcountry ski magazine to Patagonia Clothing and later the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival where she ran the national tour. The films inspired her to explore building a smarter and more equitable food system. She collected her discoveries about sustainable and regional food systems on her blog, foodchronicles.net. Susie founded the Tahoe Food Hub in 2012 and is the Executive Director of the nonprofit that helps local farms access new markets and brings ecologically grown food to her community. When not enjoying a good meal with friends, you’ll find Susie out exploring the Sierra Nevada backcountry either on snow, dirt or rock! Her passion for the outdoors has taken her on two wheels and two sticks to some interesting destinations around the world.


Rebecca Bryson is an active member of the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative, a citizen-based effort to promote a healthier Tahoe-Truckee community, environment, and economy. Passionate about the future of our kids, she also co-founded Small World, a local parent network dedicated to creating a more peaceful, livable planet for all children. A former environmental mediator and peacemaker, Rebecca now finds herself, somewhat surprisingly, in a more activist role. Through both of the above groups, she has helped organize groups of parents, community volunteers, and the school district to initiate a composting program at all four elementary schools, a two month We Can! health and fitness challenge, a parent-led nutrition program, several after school clubs, and the Sierra House Growing Domes project. Despite being constantly "behind the wheel" chauffeuring kids from place to place, she has also unexpectedly become a leading advocate for promoting bike and pedestrian facilities in the community. She has co-led efforts to expand bike lanes and bike paths throughout Lake Tahoe and is part of team which secured funding for two Safe Routes to School planning projects, wrote a draft Master Plan and has applied for $2M in implementation money for a bike path near the Middle School. Rebecca is now working with a group to investigate options for bringing a Discovery Center or similar organization to the Tahoe area, and serves on the City of South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Commission.


After many years of guiding wilderness trips, Emily Hargraves became co-owner of an outdoor education program for women called Backcountry Babes.  Backcountry Babes is a community of empowered women, both clients and guides, who lead backcountry skiing courses, AIARE avalanche education courses, backcountry hut trips, mountain biking trips, backpacking trips and whitewater trips in Breckenridge, CO, Anchorage, AK, and soon to be operating in Truckee, CA again, too!  They also offer international ski trips on a rotating basis to British Columbia, Japan, and South America.  Emily believes all women’s trips have a special power to foster camaraderie, creativity, confidence, freedom, education, and fun, and that Backcountry Babes provides a framework for more women to get into leadership positions in the outdoors. She is really grateful to have the opportunity to help the Backcountry Babes community grow. Emily also has a strong passion for environmental outdoor education, and teaches multi-week wilderness education courses for schools between Backcountry Babes work. An avid biker, she has led cycling tours in Spain, Maine, Catalonia, Vermont, and Quebec.  On the rare occasions when Emily stops traveling, she lives in Truckee and enjoys all the skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, and great time with outdoor people it offers.


Cindy Gustafson is General Manager of Tahoe City Public Utility District (TCPUD), a California Special District which serves water, sewer, parks and recreation along the entire west shore of Lake Tahoe.  Over her 24 years with TCPUD, Ms. Gustafson has served several roles before being promoted to General Manager in 2008.  Under her leadership is a full time staff of 42, and an operating and capital budget of over $20 million.  In her previous roles she secured grant funding and worked with multiple State and Federal agencies to administer over $30 million in capital projects including bike trails, sidewalks, water and sewer system upgrades, community buildings, public parks, beaches, and environmental restoration projects.  

In addition to her professional career, Ms. Gustafson has served in a wide variety of appointed, elected and volunteer positions involved with developing complex public policy.  She served a term as one of California’s five Fish and Game Commissioners.  After that service concluded, she was asked to chair the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force, charged with developing recommendations for the protection of the State’s waters along the North Coast of California.  She was elected to serve five years on the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s Board of Trustees, and was also appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve six years on the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency Board of Directors.  

Ms. Gustafson has also volunteered her time in developing and serving on several non-profits in the Tahoe Truckee region.  She was the founding chair of the Tahoe Fund, a non-profit dedicated to raising private and public funds to restore and improve the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin.  Prior to that she helped found and serve on two other non-profits -- the Tahoe City Beautification Committee, and the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation

Ms. Gustafson, her husband and grown sons enjoy Lake Tahoe’s multitude of outdoor recreational activities and phenomenal environment.


Kylie Rowe is the President of the Graduate Student Association, representing more than 4,000 graduate and professional students at the University of Nevada. Kylie sits on the board of the UNR Alumni Association and is an ex-officio board member of the UNR Foundation. She was recently elected as the Secretary of the Nevada Student Alliance, developing statewide initiatives, representing more than 100,000 students in the Nevada System of Higher Education.Kylie is also the Assistant Director of the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship in The College of Business at the University of Nevada. Kylie is recognized as an influencer and connector between the University and community in EDAWN’s 52-card Start Up Deck. This year, Kylie published two articles on entrepreneurship in the RGJ. She is a team member of TEDxUniversityofNevada and emceed TEDxUNR 2015. Since 2009, Kylie has owned of a small real estate investment business. In her previous work, Kylie was hired at the University as a program evaluator and before that worked with psychiatric patients at West Hills Hospital, meeting with Veterans facing PTSD at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, and analyzing research and data that informed a new policy to protect foster youth in Washoe County Social Services. Kylie also volunteered full-time, for one year as an Americorps VISTA – serving disadvantaged youth in Washoe County School District. Kylie has earned a degree in Economics and a Master of Social Work from the University of Nevada; she plans to graduate with a Master in Business Administration December 2016.


Kelly Northridge is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford researching investments that impact women and girls.  She has worked with, started, and grown several entrepreneurial ventures, and has led an extensive number of international consulting projects over the past 20 years.  She has a background in finance including venture capital and mergers and acquisitions; economic impact; international strategy; change management and organizational development. Kelly’s international experience spans the globe including Australia, Brazil, China, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, and Uganda, with extensive experience in Eastern and Western Europe.  She hold a BS in International Business and Economics, cum laude, from the University of Nevada, Reno, an MBA focused in International Sustainable Development from Cornell University, and a Master’s in Public Health focused in International Health Management from UCLA.


From an early age, Mayumi Elegado was passionate about the written word and the power of storytelling. This interest fortuitously led to her current position as publisher/owner of Moonshine Ink, Truckee/North Lake Tahoe’s independent newspaper that serves 24,000 readers and has been on streets since 2002. Committed to keeping Tahoe smart, Moonshine Ink provides the community with quality in-depth reporting and information, served up with a dash of flavor, intelligent writing, and thoughtful design. Mayumi received a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, with focuses on photography and Spanish from the University of Florida. She has lived in Truckee for 16 years, and dreams of being a surfing fly fishing mountain cowgirl.


Machen MacDonald is a serial entrepreneur having started seven companies includinga water-ski school at Lake Tahoe, a city wide concierge service in San Francisco, a public relations firm, and a successful financial services firm where he received numerous company and industry production awards for the companies he represented.  In 2003 he established the ProBrilliance Leadership Institute. ProBrilliance and its coaching arm ProAdvisor Coach have become an industry leader in coaching small business owners, sales professionals, and community leaders.

He is a Certified Professional Business Coach, as well as a #1 bestselling author, having authored four books on peak performance and contributed to five others. He is a regular contributor to the GAMA International Journal and writes a weekly column for his local newspaper The Union.

Machen is a member of the adjunct faculty of the Sierra Economic Development Corporation as well as Sierra Commons Business Ignitor, a local business incubator facility. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  He is a board member of The Friendship Club, and is the past President of the International Coaches Federation – Sacramento. 

He lives in Grass Valley, CA with his wife of 23 years and their three children ages 10,15, and 19. He enjoys boating with family and friends, running competitively, water skiing and snow skiing.


Kae Reed has been in the news business since the 1980s. She has written for the New York Times, Reuters, San Francisco Chronicle, Las Vegas Sun, Tahoe Quarterly Magazine, Inside Tennis Magazine, National Association of Counties, and other publications and agencies. Kae was an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle before moving to South Lake Tahoe in 2002. She started Lake Tahoe News in September 2009. The online news site is the only place to get news about Lake Tahoe seven days a week. When Kae isn't working she is likely to be playing tennis, hiking, skiing or snowshoeing.


Melissa Siig is a co-owner of the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema in Tahoe City and an associate editor at Moonshine Ink. Before moving to Tahoe in 2001, she worked in international politics in Washington, DC, where she earned her Master’s in Arab Studies at Georgetown University. After opting for a major career change, Melissa returned to the West Coast where she fell in love with the people and lifestyle in Tahoe. She started work as a reporter for the Tahoe World, and has written for various local and national publications including ESPN.com, Powder.com, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Reno-Gazette Journal, Tahoe Quarterly, and Nevada Magazine. For the past eight years, she has been at Moonshine Ink, where she writes feature stories and locals news, focusing on controversial issues in Squaw Valley. Melissa has won numerous awards for her writing. In 2014, Melissa and her husband, Steven, along with two partners, opened the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema in Tahoe City. Their goal was to revive the Tahoe City commercial core and bring cultural opportunities to the community. The theater offers major motion pictures, independent films, and environmental and action sports movies, and hosts filmmaker and actor Q&As, speakers, live music, and dance performances. When not at her keyboard or at the theater, Melissa is busy with her three children and German shepherd puppy. She enjoys playing in the mountains on her bike, in her hiking shoes, on skis, or jumping in a lake.


A native of Argentina and a citizen of Switzerland and the US, Carina Black has lived in the United States since 1987. 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 (NNIC). As an adjunct faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno, Black has taught courses in global studies, world politics, comparative politics, democratization, international organizations and Latin American politics. At the NNIC, Black has focused her energies on growing programs through the US Department of State and USAID.


Chrissy Klenke is the Earth Sciences & Map Librarian at the DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), which was recently recognized as one of the most interesting makerspaces in America.  As a librarian, Chrissy enacts change by advocating for, engaging with, and supporting the local community by providing innovative services and resources. She is also the lead Producer of the Reno Mini Maker Faire, an annual event that celebrates and supports the "maker movement" and draws participants from across the region. This event is a venue for makers to showcase their innovations and creativity by teaching and sharing to inspire others to tinker, explore, and learn. When she is not in the library or participating in events, she is either discovering local places or exploring the great outdoors. 


Michelle McLean is co-creator of the Sierra House Growing Dome Project, a parent-led educational program creating ties between local children and their food systems. As a Master Gardener she is passionate about gardening and providing children with the means and skills to grow their own food. Michelle grew up in a small country town in Scotland surrounded by lush green fields filled with cows, sheep, and crops. She spent her childhood eating vegetables picked from fields close to her home, and helping her family in their vegetable gardens. These memories continue to inspire her today. After Michelle graduated with a Masters in Archaeology and began working as a researcher she became acutely aware of food systems in the past and the importance of keeping them local. Currently she is developing an all-embracing Garden Program at Sierra House Elementary including hands on garden lessons, nutrition, vermiculture, pollination, native botany, water resources and art. Creating partnerships between multiple disparate groups within the South Lake Tahoe community. Michelle hopes that the growing domes will open up a dialogue within our community about changes in our weather systems, the decline of our pollinators and the pressing need for local food networks. The first step in creating the motion forward-to creating the awareness and actuality of local food systems here and now in South Lake Tahoe.


Paul Bancroft was born and raised in North Lake Tahoe.  He has a BA in Modern Languages and Literature with an Emphasis in Spanish from Montana State University and a Master’s degree in Latin American and Iberian Studies from the University California, Santa Barbara. He is currently the Client Services and Prevention Director at Tahoe SAFE Alliance, North Lake Tahoe and Truckee’s only Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse specific organization. He has been with Tahoe SAFE Alliance for 7 years. Paul is a member of the Nevada Council for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and serves on the boards for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and the Chantal Paydar Foundation.


Jana Vanderhaar is a landscape architect and owner of Verdant Connections Landscape Architecture, a landscape design and garden consultation company in Reno.  Her focus is on designing and providing advice about edible, drought-tolerant and ecologically friendly landscapes to her clients as a way to bring food, beauty and bio-diversity to people’s lives. 

As a local and organic food advocate, Jana teaches homesteading workshops that focus on backyard food production and sustainable living.  She is active board member with the Local Food Network, bringing the local food community together, and Sustainable Nevada, a non-profit that promotes ecoliteracy in Nevada.  Jana also leads weekly edible gardening workshops at the Great Basin Community Food Coop, showing people how easy and fun it is to grow food in the High Desert environment.


Cheri Sugal is a consultant in international conservation finance and expert in Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD+.  For more than two decades, she has worked in 45+ developing countries trekking around remote rainforests and figuring out ways to finance their protection. In 2001, she raised 100 million dollars, the largest grant in conservation history, and created Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund, initiating conservation deals on more than 100 million acres.

Since 2010, Cheri has been working in the private sector to create emissions reductions credits from protecting standing forests.  She has a specific expertise in designing these projects to ensure that biodiversity and local communities benefit.  Sugal holds an undergraduate and graduate degree in Applied Economics from Stanford University, and has called Lake Tahoe home for more than ten years.


SunMie Won moved to Truckee in 2000 and has been honing gardening techniques so that she can grow food successfully in Tahoe's challenging climate. She's developed a permaculture homestead at her home that includes chickens, cold frames, raised beds, worm bins, and composting. She began to fully grasp the absurdities in our food system when her son was born in 2007 with food sensitivities that made her re-evaluate her family's whole diet. SunMie seeks to reclaim every part of food production for her family: growing, preparing, preserving, eating, and recycling. She teaches an annual canning clinic through Slow Food Lake Tahoe and is a former SFLT board member.

SunMie Won works as a web developer when not cooking, gardening, wrangling hoses or her two children, or enjoying the Tahoe outdoors.


Ed Gurowitz has spent over 30 years on the front lines of organizational transformation, partnering with executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations to provide training and consulting in leadership, communication, collaboration, and organizational effectiveness through executive coaching, consulting, and designing and delivering programs. He became deeply involved in and committed to the civil rights movement, and later to the feminist movement during university in the 1960’s. He has consulted to organizations ranging from Fortune 100 companies to startups and non-profits, and for many years he worked as a consultant with the Institute for Women’s Leadership, a pioneer organization in empowering women leaders in companies, where he became familiar with the struggles of women in businesses. At one of IWL’s clients who had put hundreds of women through their programs, the women began to ask “what about the men,” and along with Rayona Sharpnack, founder of IWL, Gurowitz co-designed a program for men to confront what gender inequality was costing them and the gains, both personal and professional, of altering their relationships with women. It was in this work that the term “gender partnership” was coined. He leverage this experience into the Gender Leadership Group, which he co-founded with Ray Arata. Gurowitz has seen firsthand what his wife and daughters have experienced in their work and in the world, and he is committed to helping his granddaughters grow up into a very different world – one where women and men work together, not just as equals but as true partners.


Jenny Kane is an artist and educator whose multi-disciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture, design, photography, prose and performance.  After years of working in traditional classroom settings, she decided to reorient her life around exploring both the urban and wild settings we inhabit across the globe.  She herself moves fluidly between city and rural landscapes in order to keep her senses alert to the psychological shifts in emotion and perspectives that take place in accordance with geography.  Jenny’s paintings, designs, interactive sculptural pieces and installations are an evolving dialogue about how we move within and are shaped by our environments.  Her projects invite audiences to pause, move a little closer, and rediscover a poetic, interdependent relationship with the layers of landscape and experience in which we are immersed.

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1983, Jenny Kane received her BA in Fine Arts and a California Teaching Credential from Mount St. Mary’s College in 2005.  She is currently a candidate for an MFA in Public Practice at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.   In addition to working as a Senior mountain guide for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG), Jenny is also a columnist for KCET's Artbound.  In her residential town of Joshua Tree, she is the creator and curator of her own art space in the reclaimed living room of her house, now called “The Sun Room,” in which she curates shows annually.


Kathy Haven is one of the brains behind the Two Way Immersion Program at Bijou School,  a parent-led addition to our community that works to improve upon the education of local children by giving them the opportunity to become bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural in the dominate languages of the area, English and Spanish. Kathy graduated from UCSB with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Education. She came to Tahoe as a math and science teacher at South Tahoe Middle School and fell in love with the culture and lifestyle of Tahoe. Kathy continues to advocate for youth in South Lake Tahoe and is a full-time mom of three wonderful children in South Lake Tahoe.