Educating One Woman can Spark a Powerful Chain Reaction

By Jennifer Burton
Carmen Ortiz, Carla Christofferson and Nancy Cashell at the 2009 Nevada Women of Achievement awards

Carmen Ortiz, Carla Christofferson and Nancy Cashell at the 2009 Nevada Women's Fund "Women of Achievement" awards

Carmen Ortiz has been off methamphetamines for 14 years now.  In that time she's gone to college, become her class president, served as an academic advisor to other students and is raising her 9 year old son.  She credits the Nevada Women's Fund for their scholarships and support.   Ortiz told her story to several hundred people at this year's  Women of Achievement luncheon, and then thanked them for having faith in her and in others like her.

Reno's Nancy Cashell is one of those who has supported the Nevada Women's Fund,  and this year she became the newest member of the Fund's Hall of Fame.  " Today was one of the most outstanding in my life,"  said Cashell.   She was stunned to learn she had been chosen for the NWF hall of fame.  "When I looked at the women who have been honored before, it's such a prestigious group of women, I was honored that they would include me in that same group."

The Women of Achievement event also honored 42 women from Northern Nevada who have shared their time and talents with others in our community.

The Nevada Women's Fund  has raised millions of dollars for community grants and scholarships.  It's mission is to use the power of education and grant making to support women and families.  That in turn strengthens our community.

The fund encourages women to "dream big."  In keeping with that, this year's keynote speaker is a lawyer, businesswoman and owner of  a professional women's basketball team.  Carla Christofferson grew up on a farm in North Dakota, became a lawyer and now owns the Los Angeles Sparks, a W.N.B.A. team.

She told the audience that playing basketball as a kid taught her important life lessons.  "I learned that when you get knocked down, you have to get right back up," says Christofferson, who to this day uses those lessons in business and in her law practice.  She says she's  impressed with the work being done by the Nevada Women's Fund.  "They help other women achieve their dreams and the fact that for 18 years they've been giving scholarships so that women can go on and achieve more and empower themselves and make the world a better place."

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