Advisory Council

Rachel J. Anderson

Rachel J. Anderson is a Professor of Law at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. She teaches business organizations, consumer law, and international business transactions and serves as faculty advisor for the Black Law Students Association, the Gaming Law Journal, and the NAACP’s UNLV student chapter. Professor Anderson has published numerous articles in general and specialty law journals, as well as publications for legal practitioners. Professor Anderson is actively engaged in legal academia and organizations at the local, state, and national levels and is often invited as a speaker for academic conferences, Continuing Legal Education seminars, and community events. She is the President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association, a Director of the American Society of Comparative Law, a Vice President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, a Vice Chair of the Law Professors Division of the National Bar Association, and a member of the National Bar Association’s Judicial Selection Committee. She also serves on the Advisory Council of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, the Battle Born Venture Capital Investment Committee, and the Nevada Legislature’s Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice’s Subcommittee to Review Arrestee DNA.

Dana R. Bennett, Ph.D.

Dr. Dana R. Bennett is currently President of the Nevada Mining Association. With more than 25 years of public policy experience in Nevada, Dr. Bennett was previously the Northern Nevada Regional Director for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Governor Brian Sandoval’s first Senior Researcher. She began her policy career at the Nevada Legislature where she served as the Staff Director for Nevada’s Committee on Public Lands for nearly a decade and also staffed policy committees concerned with state and local government operations, technology in education, health care, and natural resources. Between her tenures in the legislative and executive branches, Dr. Bennett spent many years in the private sector, operating a policy research business and employed as a legislative advocate with clients in mining, educational innovation, insurance, and construction, among others. With an abiding curiosity about Nevada’s history, she took a break in her career to earn a PhD in history from Arizona State University. Her dissertation explored the intersection between women legislators and tax policy development in Nevada before 1960. Dr. Bennett has authored three books and more than 50 articles, reports, and other publications.

Jonathan E. Boulware

Jonathan Boulware is the General Manager of the Gold Dust West Hotel and Casino in Carson City, Nevada. In 2012, he was selected by the Carson City Board of Supervisors to serve as the Chairman of the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. Previously, Mr. Boulware worked for Station Casinos where he was the General Manager of the Wild Wild West Hotel and Casino and the Wildfire Casino in Las Vegas. Before joining Station Casinos, Mr. Boulware was employed by MGM MIRAGE for 15 years where he began his career in the Management Associate Program in 1990 after graduation from college.  While at MGM MIRAGE he held several positions including Casino Dealer, Casino Floor Supervisor, Casino Host, Director of Hotel Services, Director of Hotel Operations and Vice President of Hotel and Food and Beverage Operations at Primm Valley Resorts, at that time, a wholly owned subsidiary of MGM MIRAGE. Mr. Boulware also served one term from 2004 to 2006 as the Chairman of the Nevada Hotel and Lodging Association (NHLA) and served as the National Director for the NHLA from 2007 to 2008. Mr. Boulware received his B.A. from Stanford University.  Mr. Boulware was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he currently resides in Sparks, Nevada with his wife and their daughter.

Tim Buchanan

Tim Buchanan is a Public Affairs Administrative Officer in the Office of the Mayor and Council in Henderson where he provides complex analytical work in support of the Mayor. Prior to moving to Henderson, he was the director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Barrick Gold Corporation. Previously, Mr. Buchanan served as  the Senior Advisor/Director of Energy and Extractives Advisory Services at Business for Social Responsibility, and as a Senior Consultant in Sustainable Development at Gold Fields Limited. He has a B.S. in mining engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, and a Master of Science in water resource management.  Mr. Buchanan serves on the board of the Nature Conservancy, and previously served on the board of Outside Las Vegas Foundation and the Western Shoshone Scholarship Foundation. He has lived abroad and traveled extensively.

Elisa Cafferata

Elisa Cafferata is a fourth generation Nevadan with experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.  She is currently the President and CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates (NAPPA), where she handles education, policy, and election work for the Planned Parenthood health centers in Nevada.  NAPPA is a founding member of the Nevada Coalition for Women’s Equity whose mission is to pass legislation to end the wage gap and address economic issues for women and families in Nevada. Ms. Cafferata co-founded the Nevada Teen Health and Safety Coalition to bring together over 100 community organizations and individuals to fight for policies to protect teen health at the local and state level. She was the second member to join the Reno Collective, presented at IgniteReno #1) and WordCamp2012, and is a House of Genius, Hack4Reno, and Startup Weekend alum.  Ms Cafferata was recently appointed to the Nevada Commission for Women as the Chair.

Edgar Carranza

Edgar Carranza is a shareholder with Backus, Carranza & Burden and has been a member since its inception in 1997. Mr. Carranza is an AV rated attorney representing individuals, domestic corporations and foreign corporations in a variety of different areas including Commercial Litigation, Employment Law, Professional Liability Defense.  Mr. Carranza is admitted to practice before all Nevada state courts, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and the Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Mr. Carranza is an active member of several legal organizations. These include the American Bar Association, the Nevada State Bar Association and the Clark County Bar Association.  He is also a member of the prestigious International Association of Defense Counsel and Defense Research Institute (DRI), where he is active in the Employment Law and Product Liability/Food Liability section. He is a Founding Member of the Latino Bar Association for Southern Nevada, having previously sat on the executive board and served as Vice President of Finance. He is also a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association. Philanthropically, Mr. Carranza is involved as a mentor with the award winning Huellas Mentoring Program through the UNLV Boyd School of Law.  He serves on the Executive Board for the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” a non-profit foundation devoted to improving the literacy skills of toddlers and young children. He also volunteers and supports many community organizations including the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.

Angela de Braga

Angela de Braga is the Director of Continuing Education for Great Basin College (GBC) in Elko, Nevada. Her career in education spans 25 years – 15 of which she was employed by the University of Nevada, Reno in distance education. De Braga is a current Vice Chair of the Minority Affairs Commission for the State of Nevada and was appointed by Governor Sandoval to the Nevada P16 Council in 2013. Activities and accomplishments include: Chair of the GBC Arts and Cultural Enrichment committee, member of the National Endowment for the Humanities grant committee, and member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council for Nevada System of Higher Education. Ms. de Braga is also a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and the Elko Basque Club. She is an alumna of the University of Nevada, Reno where she earned her Master of Education in Higher Education Administration and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing) degrees. Ms. de Braga is married to Joe de Braga and has two sons, Thomas and Justin.

Miles Dickson

Miles Dickson is a third-generation Las Vegan with expertise and practical insight in the areas of government and public affairs, public policy, strategy, social responsibility, and organizational development. His skillfulness in consortium development, analysis, and project management allows him to help clients make the most of their engagement efforts, develop sustainable internal capacity, and create value for their organizations and communities. As a Principal with Las Vegas-based management consulting firm The JABarrett Company, Mr. Dickson serves as a senior advisor and project manager for clients spanning the private, public, and social sectors. He earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he received the Dean’s Award and was selected to deliver his class’s commencement address. He also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, with a minor in Business Law, from UNLV.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson has served as the Chief Financial Officer for the White Pine County School District for the past 20 years and has had the privilege of serving on a number of Nevada fiscal panels and funding studies to evaluate the Nevada Plan funding formula.  Most recently, he was involved on a committee tasked with repairing and simplifying the current Nevada Plan funding formula.  In 2013 through 2014 he served as a member of the Task Force on K-12 Public Education Funding Technical Advisory Committee. Through his efforts and involvement with various committees that serve to improve Nevada’s funding, he has earned several awards. Mr. Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from UNLV and has a diverse background.  He is involved in civic organizations, local government affairs, economic development and youth athletics. In September 2002, he was appointed to the White Pine County Commission by Governor Kenny C. Guinn and served the remaining term through 2004.

Randall J. Kirner, Ed.D.

Randy Kirner served as a Nevada State Assemblyman for six years (2010-2016). His committee assignments included three terms on Ways and Means (Sub-committee Chair of Government Services – one session), two sessions on Taxation, two sessions on the Education Committee, and one session as Chair, Commerce and Labor.  Prior to his legislative service, Dr. Kirner served on the State of Nevada’s Public Employees’ Benefit Program for 11 years, two years as Chair. He was appointed to two terms by then Governor Guinn and was reappointed to his third term by Governor Gibbons. Dr. Kirner holds a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne in Southern California. He received his MBA from Georgia State University, an MS in Information Management from West Coast University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Georgia, aka, The Military College of Georgia, where he rose to the position of Cadet Corps Adjutant, was a Distinguished Military Graduate and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.  He was the honor graduate of his Army Infantry Officer’s Basic Training class. Dr. Kirner is a decorated military veteran having served five years as an army officer including a tour of duty in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.  He was awarded a Bronze Star, an Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.  He also earned the prestigious Ranger Tab, Pathfinder Torch, and Master Paratrooper designation. His 35-year civilian career includes high level positions in three Fortune 500 companies:  American Hospital Supply Corporation (now Baxter), Allergan Inc., and International Game Technology (IGT).  Kirner and his wife (Peggy) have been married for 51 years and have two grown children and five grandchildren. They reside in Henderson, Nevada.

Dave Kladney

Married to Deb Kladney for 36 years with two children, Dave Kladney is a Commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.  He moved to Nevada in 1958, attended Nevada schools, and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno. After three years as a television journalist, Mr. Kladney attended and graduated from California Western School of Law. He was the first in-house counsel to the Nevada State Employees Association and was in private practice until 2000. His business interests included Choices Unlimited, the treatment provider of Clark and Washoe Counties, and Disability Associates. Mr. Kladney was recognized by Washoe Legal Services for his pro bono efforts three years in a row, and received the Nevada Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award from the Nevada Supreme Court in 2004.

Nicole Lamboley

Nicole Lamboley is the Administrator of the Child Health Institute at Renown Health, a position she has held since February 2016. Previously she served as Chief Deputy Commissioner at the Nevada Division of Insurance. Prior to the Division of Insurance, Ms. Lamboley served eight years as Chief Deputy Secretary of State under Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. For the past 27 years, she has worked in different capacities in the area of public and government affairs in both the public and private sectors, primarily in Nevada, but also in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.  Her career also includes positions as campaign manager for former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Legislative Affairs Manager for the City of Reno, Senior Regional Manager for the National Association of Manufacturers, Deputy Chief of Staff to former Nevada Governor Bob Miller, and Project Manager in the area of philanthropy for BTW Consultants, Inc.  As Administrator of the Child Health Institute, Ms. Lamboley is responsible for developing the operational and strategic scope of the Institute and its five centers (e.g., Social Justice, Child and Family Potential, Health Professions Education, Health Services Research, and Healthcare Delivery), and the execution of strategic initiatives across the institute and community to provide an innovative and sustainable model for improving the health and well-being for children and their families for the future of our region. Ms. Lamboley received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s degree with an emphasis in social and public policy from Georgetown University.

Debbie Leonard

Debbie Leonard is an attorney and mediator whose practice focuses on resolving land and water disputes. As a partner at long-time Nevada law firm McDonald Carano, Ms. Leonard is chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group and serves as a Nevada Supreme Court settlement judge. Before becoming a lawyer, Ms. Leonard worked for the United States Forest Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to assess pollution impacts on water and wildlife. She also taught science at the secondary and college levels.  Ms. Leonard received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, with a certificate in environmental law. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of California, Santa Cruz and graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a bachelor’s degree in zoology.

Todd A. Nigro

Todd Nigro, in partnership with his brother Mike, owns and operates companies in the development, construction, asset management, and gaming and hospitality businesses. Mr. Nigro began his career as an entrepreneur in 1991 when he joined Nigro Associates, a commercial and residential development and construction company owned by his father, Edward Nigro. As Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Nigro was responsible for the investment, financing, and development of the properties, which were completed using a combination of investor equity and bank financing. In 2000, Mr. Nigro and his brother Mike, formed Nigro Development LLC, Nigro Construction, Inc. and Nigro Management LLC and purchased the assets of Nigro Associates’ construction and property management businesses. Through these companies, Mr. Nigro maintains contractors, real estate brokerage, and property management licenses in the State of Nevada. In addition to being active in development and construction, Mr. Nigro obtained privileged liquor and gaming licenses in Nevada and started a hospitality company that owns and operates neighborhood taverns with both restaurant and gaming components; and, is a founding member of the Bank of George, a federally insured, state chartered bank headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Nigro has served as both Chairman and a Board Member of Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas, Inc. He has also served as both Chairman and a Member of the City of Las Vegas Planning Commission, as well as volunteered his time evaluating applications for Community Development Block Grants and HOME Funds. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Business and Bishop Gorman High School. Mr. Nigro owes whatever success he has achieved to the inspiration he receives from his wife, Ryanne and his 4 beautiful children, Nicholas, Nathan, Isabelle, and Olivia.

Elliott Parker, Ph.D.

Dr. Elliott Parker is a Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he teaches international and comparative economics. He has served as chair of the university faculty senate, chair of the economics department, co-editor or the China Economic Review, and chairman of the board of the Northern Nevada International Center. Dr. Parker currently serves as the university’s current Core Curriculum Director. Since earning his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1992, he has published a dozen research articles as book chapters, over two dozen research articles in economics journals, three dozen other academic articles, and more than four dozen op-ed articles in Nevada newspapers on the state economy. In February 2011, Dr. Parker was one of 100 people named a “Nevada Influencer” by Campaigns & Elections magazine.

James Thomson, Ph.D.

Dr.  James Thomson serves as special advisor for regional development to UNLV President Len Jessup. He is the former CEO of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution that helps improve policy and decisions through research and analysis, which he led as CEO from 1989 to 2011. With annual revenues of over $250 million and a staff of more than 1,600, RAND’s research programs address a range of domestic, international, and national security issues. RAND’s core competencies include health care services, supply chains, energy and environment, transportation and infrastructure, education, demography, defense, and international security. In addition to his leadership at RAND, Dr. Thomson was previously an experimental nuclear physicist and published numerous scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. He served as a U.S. government official dealing with defense and arms control matters, serving both in the U.S. Department of Defense and at the White House. Dr. Thomson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and International Institute for Strategic Studies, and serves on the board of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. He is a director of AK Steel Corp. and Praedicat, Inc. Dr. Thomson holds a B.A. in physics from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s and Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University.

Barbara C. Thornton, Ph.D.

Dr. Barbara Thornton, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from Nevada and a Ph.D. in health communications at the University of Utah,  taught ethics and communications for nearly 38 years and became faculty emeritus at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2005. She has received both the Distinguished Faculty and Distinguished Nevadan awards. Dr. Thornton has been recognized for her service (1979) and professional achievement (1992) by the Nevada Alumni Association. As co-founder of the Nevada Women’s Fund, her efforts benefit women and families throughout the state. At the University, she, along with her husband Bill, established the Thornton Peace Prize, and with her brother, John Cavanaugh, established the Cavanaugh Community Volunteer Award.

Michael Zieba

Mike Zieba currently serves as the Chairman for the Nevada State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; he is also an independent defense and IT professional. In 2010, he retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, having served in both enlisted and officer ranks for more than 26 years in various command, staff, and leadership positions. These positions covered a broad spectrum of responsibilities to include interagency planning and coordination, multinational operations, Eurasia politico-military affairs, strategy and policy development, intelligence operations, and arms control (nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional). As a Eurasia Foreign Area Officer, Mr. Zieba served as Attaché at our embassies in Russia and Kazakhstan, coordinated and monitored programs to reduce Russian nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons through DoD’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, coordinated NATO and multinational operations, and developed political-military engagement strategies in Eurasian countries for European Command and DoD. Mike holds a Master of Arts in Russian and East European Studies from University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University. When not looking for opportunities to serve, Mr. Zieba is private pilot, Amateur (Ham) Radio operator, and woodworker.