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April 21, 2014

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Las Vegas Weekly: Bold, wise women of Southern Nevada

You have only to look to the mayor’s office to know women have a big impact on Las Vegas. But even out of the political arena, ladies are shaping the city, whether they’re healing its uninsured inhabitants or representing on the field wearing Rebel Red.

This week’s Las Vegas Weekly celebrates women who are influential, inspirational, entertaining and intimidating, in a word — badass — and well worth getting to know.

Click here to listen to Las Vegas Weekly's Radio Mag on KUNV featuring Carla Pellegrino and Karla Washington.

Read the full version of this story on LasVegasWeekly.com.

    • Pat Mulroy
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Pat Mulroy: General manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Southern Nevada Water Authority

      Nevada is the driest state in the nation, with a metropolitan area of 2 million people and 40 million tourists annually sucking water from the shrinking Colorado River in the middle of a drought. We also have the smallest allotment of the seven states that tap the Colorado, a deal made in 1922, and we need water to quench the aftermath of our arrogant, rapacious growth.

      Water is gold here. Water alone determines our future.

      At the center of all of this is a controversial woman wielding a lot of power: Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Southern Nevada Water Authority. She preaches conservation and has successfully reduced Valley water use despite growth. Still, critics accuse her of favoring developers and spending too much money.

      She also leads the argument to pipe in groundwater from rural Nevada while ranchers and environmentalists scream. Her latest idea? Pipe Midwest floodwaters into Las Vegas. Mulroy is undoubtedly one of the most powerful women in Nevada.

      — Kristen Peterson

    • Megan Gaver
      Photo by Christopher DeVargas

      Megan Gaver: Director of marketing and business affairs at Marquee nightclub

      The night-life industry has a reputation of being an unrepentant boys’ club — but don’t tell that to Megan Gaver. The East Coast transplant just approaching her one-year anniversary in Las Vegas has been working in clubs since age 17, rising quickly through the ranks of night-life impresario Steve Lewis’ New York empire before she could even drink at the venues she marketed and promoted.

      Today, Gaver, who also has a law degree from Rutgers, puts that experience to work at Tao Group’s Cosmopolitan nightclub Marquee. “You just walk into the club and it just clicks,” she says. “There’ve been so many crazy nights that it starts being normal.”

      The fast-paced night-life industry fits Gaver, who says it helped her grow up quick and learn to handle high-stress situations that would make less-seasoned clubworkers shudder.

      — Sarah Feldberg

    • Karla Washington
      Photo by Christopher DeVargas

      Karla Washington: UNLV student, activist/advocate

      Don’t get us wrong, Karla Washington’s achievements are worthy of much praise. The 41-year-old returning student is president of the UNLV student chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, coordinator for Peers Advocating Anti-Violence Education at the school’s women’s center, presidential student ambassador and student government senator for the hotel college.

      Still, the best part about this single mother is that she isn’t an army of one. She is the beneficiary of the employer who first gave her the incentive to get a degree, the counselors who helped her find scholarships, the on-campus preschool staff that watches her daughter.

      Washington is a testament to how far a little kindness can go in one disadvantaged person’s life, which is why she vows to one day start her own nonprofit organization.

      — April Corbin

    • Carla Pellegrino
      Photo by Christopher DeVargas

      Carla Pellegrino: Chef/owner of Bacio and Bratalian restaurants

      It isn’t difficult to figure out why Carla Pellegrino has been so successful as one of Las Vegas’ only female celebrity chefs. She’s stunningly beautiful, no doubt about that. But Carla’s strengths in a traditionally male-dominated field go way beyond her looks.

      The woman is a force of nature — you either see things her way or get out of the way.

      “I have a lot of passion for whatever it is that I’m doing,” she says. “I take over everything. I’m OCD, always in people’s faces.”

      She attributes her hard-driving nature to her heritage: “I was born in Rio; I’m Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian. My great-grandmother was French. If you drop me in the sea, I would never die. Everybody would drown but me!”

      But the biggest secret of her success? “My accent,” she says, laughing.

      — Ken Miller

    • Florence Jameson
      Photo by Christopher DeVargas

      Florence Jameson: Physician and founder of Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada

      In the middle of our interview, Dr. Florence Jameson steps out to deliver a baby. Bringing life into the world is a fraction of her work, which is focused on saving lives by restoring health and hope.

      An obstetrician-gynecologist who has served Las Vegas for nearly 30 years, she also provides free care for female juvenile offenders and founded Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada. The nonprofit organization’s flagship free clinic opened in Paradise Park last year and has since provided 3,600 visits for uninsured patients.

      Jameson is determined to open a downtown site, with the goal of caring for 50,000 people a year, one at a time. “It isn’t about great numbers,” she says. “Like Mother Teresa said: ‘It’s about doing small things with great love.’ ”

      — Erin Ryan

    • Amanda Bingson
      Photo by Christopher DeVargas

      Amanda Bingson: UNLV track and field star

      The whole time I’m interviewing Amanda Bingson, I’m grateful for how amazingly sweet she is. After all, this woman could kick my ass.

      Entering her senior year at UNLV, Bingson crushes records in her chosen sport, the hammer throw. She’s this year’s UNLV Sportswoman of the Year, ranked fourth in the nation, and a likely Olympic contender.

      But as intimidating as she is on the field, Bingson has a, well, amazingly sweet side to her. She volunteers at Silverado High School, her alma mater, to get kids interested in track and field (the hammer throw is too dangerous for high school, so Bingson helps out with shot put and discus).

      “I want to help kids get involved in track, because sports really turned my life around. I used to get into trouble,” she says. Given what she’s achieved, and how she’s inspired others, it’s hard to argue with her. Not that I ever would.

      — Ken Miller

    • Vangie Bisquera-Golda
      Photo by Scott Den Herder

      Vangie Bisquera-Golda: Executive director of Culture Shock Las Vegas

      Vangie Bisquera-Golda is not a ballerina, but she can strap on pointe shoes and nail a double pirouette. She never formally trained in any style. Dance was “a passion, a love … always in the blood.”

      At 26, she joined Culture Shock Las Vegas, a nonprofit group that involves youth in street dance as an alternative to drugs and violence. The group was soon in danger of dissolving as leading members chased bigger dreams, from backing up Madonna and Michael Jackson onstage to choreographing on-screen. So Bisquera-Golda gave up her own shot as a performer to keep alive what mattered to her as a person.

      More than a decade later, the 43-year-old mom is still executive director of CSLV as well as a full-time educational computer strategist for Clark County. That’s a lot of influence on the next generation. “I have a beautiful family,” she says, adding that she’s still working on her headspin.

      — Erin Ryan

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