Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman: the next generation of female leaders |

Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman: the next generation of female leaders

By Cassandra Walker | Special to the NNBV
Kim Tran believes in finding balance between goals and fun time, saying that she likes pushing herself to her fullest potential, but also going out for lunch with her girlfriends.
Courtesy Kim Tran
Editor's note

RENO, Nev. — In spirit of recognizing the many great powerful women across the Sierra Nevada, it’s remarkable to also notice the waves that the next generation is making.

It’s with that notion in mind that Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman recently spoke with a quartet of local young females who are working to help enact long-term change in their communities and across the region. 

Kimberly Tran: Pushing her academic boundaries with gratitude

Kimberly Tran is no stranger to academic success. She has served as president of the TMCC Student Government Association and vice chair of the Nevada Student Alliance during her tenure at Truckee Meadows Community College High School, from which she will graduate this May with her high school diploma and her associate’s degree.

Tran was recognized by TMCC High School principal, Melissa Olsen, who said Tran’s impact has left a lasting impression on fellow students and faculty members.

“Kim’s leadership is evident through her work in the Student Government Association,” Olsen said. “She has worked to improve enrollment, activities and student advocacy. Her college leadership position allows Kimberly to work with college staff and high school staff to improve programming at both the high school and college level.

“A well-rounded young woman, Kim mentors her zoned high school’s track team, is the principal violinist and concertmaster for her zoned high school’s orchestra, and continues to volunteer in the community with the high school volunteer organization. She also supports other students through tutoring.”

Among other accomplishments, Tran earned her spot on the Dean’s List for academic excellence; created the Academic Olympics program for her high school; served as treasurer of the Psychology Club; and competed in the NASA Rover Challenge in her spare time.

“It never hurts to try. Failure is not something to be afraid of,” Tran said. “Part of my success stems from the fact that I’m goal driven. It’s important to reflect and understand what we want and what we value. In doing so, we can find more meaning as we figure out how to obtain all that we desire.”

Tran said that she truly believes women can achieve anything they desire and though there will always be challenges ahead, she recognizes that we have control over our futures and must surround ourselves with people who believe the same.

Kristen McNeill, Ed.D, deputy superintendent of the Washoe County School District pointed out how important it is for young women like Tran to have accomplished role models in the community.

“I have no doubt that Kim Tran will one day be among these amazing women as we are celebrating at the Powerful Woman event,” McNeill said. “We are so proud of Kim’s educational journey and all that she has accomplished to date. She is a stellar example of what it means to be a Washoe County School District graduate. We commend Kim and her entire family in supporting her though her educational endeavors and look forward to seeing what Kim will accomplish in the future.”

Tran said her many accolades would be much fewer if it hadn’t been for her upbringing, namely her father’s lessons on reflection.

“I think reflecting on experience and other people builds a better understanding of the world and the people around you. In terms of making a positive impact, I believe it’s important to make connections with people,” she said. “Additionally, when we are successful, I believe it’s important to spread success to others. I read in an article once that the most important quality of a leader is generosity.

“I am so thankful for the people who have supported me this far, so I strive to help others in the way that people have helped me.”

It’s all about setting goals. Tran set a goal for herself to attend Stanford University when she was in fifth grade and she will be heading to her dream campus in the fall to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, followed by earning her master’s of Business Administration.

With these degrees under her belt, her ultimate goal is to launch her own technology startup company fueled by the inspiration she finds in the goodness there is in the world.

“I thought about biomedical engineering and making technologies to help surgeons; I don’t have to be a surgeon but I can help them,” Tran said.

When asked for her final words of wisdom to the next generations of wave-making young women, Tran says potential is in your own hands.

“I encourage you to be your own role model. Define your own destiny. And, remember that you are not alone,” she said.

Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada: Young leaders creating legacies of change

In Girl Scouts, the highest award a young woman can receive is the Gold Award. It equates to the Eagle ranking commonly heard of for Boy Scouts, and requires that the girls complete a project for their community, which will have a lasting and positive impression.

Backed by their projects that include over 80 hours of dedicated work time, three local Gold Award Girl Scouts are being recognized for their impressive efforts as the next generation of impressive women leaders.

Baylee Mee: Encouraging youth girls’ participation in athletics

Baylee Mee is a sophomore at Galena High School in Reno and has been playing lacrosse for the past five years.

Since she started playing the sport Mee noticed so few girls turned out that the team had to scrimmage each other instead of having real games.

“I think the slow growth is due to the fact that it is still a relatively new sport out west and girls are either unaware or afraid to give it a try,” she said.

Mee created a solution to making lacrosse more accessible to girls for her Gold Award project.

She ramped up donations for lacrosse gear, found school lacrosse coaches and area fanatics to volunteer their expertise, and created her own youth lacrosse clinic as a way to encourage participation among youth girls in athletics.

Clinic attendees learned the fundamentals of the game, positions, ran drills and got free training; Mee even gave clinic participants interested in pursuing lacrosse further all of the equipment they would need to follow their passion, free of charge.

“If we can offer more programs like this to girls then maybe there wouldn’t be such a huge gap between the number of boy versus girl participants in sports,” Mee said. “My hope is that by getting girls involved at a younger age, the hurdles we experience at the high school level recruiting players will be gone in a few years and because more girls will have been playing for longer periods of time, the competitive level of the teams will also increase.”

She said that High Sierra Lacrosse League saw over a 17 percent increase in registration at the girl youth level after the event and that she is excited to have played a part in moving the needle in girls’ athletics.

Next on Mee’s radar is the Northern Nevada State Championship tournament, which she says her team hopes to win for the seventh consecutive year.

After high school Mee is interested in studying psychology and criminal justice so she can work in the BAU and the FBI. She hopes to play lacrosse at the collegiate level and maybe someday even on the U.S. Lacrosse Team.

“I’m excited to have completed my Gold Award and that I was able to share with others something that means so much to me, I would be ecstatic if other girls felt the same about lacrosse because of something I did,” she said.

Maxine Grieve: Rehabilitating wildlife habitats in the wake of summer fires

Maxine Grieve is a sophomore at TMCC High School who was accepted to the same program as Tran and will graduate with both her honors diploma and associates degree.

With dreams of becoming a surgeon and engineer, she said that the natural fit for her Gold Award project topic was to design a tool that would help give back to nature what was lost after three summers of wildfires ravaged Reno and Carson City wildlife habitats.

The tool she created is similar to seeders used in the Midwest during farming season that allow the farmer to dig a hole using a foot bar and drop seeds down a hollow handle; then they simply push soil over the hole with their foot.

“It allows for the plants to be planted at a perfect depth and saves the back of those who are planting, but mine needed to be Nevada-soil-proof,” Grieve said.

The tools she had seen were made using PVC pipes so she engineered hers using cold-cut steel material to handle the hard desert terrain, which was also damaged and burnt.

With this tool, she was able to host a community planting event to reinstate the damaged mule deer habitat in time for their winter migrations, preventing them from heading toward more urban communities to survive.

Grieve said she sees environmental volunteerism having a large place in her life moving forward and is currently spreading the word on her tool so it can help other communities.

In the fall, she will attend the University of Nevada, Reno, studying Biomedical Engineering and then plans to go into the medical field where she is interested in training in trauma surgery to one day join Doctors Without Borders to give back, globally.

She said that though she didn’t originally want to participate in a Gold Award project she’s glad that her mother pushed her to do it because it has opened unforeseen doors for her and helped her to discover who she is.

Theresa Sandborn: Environmental stewardship to protect native plant species

Theresa Sandborn is from South Lake Tahoe and will be graduating from South Lake Tahoe High School this year.

As a girl scout who is passionate about nature, namely Lake Tahoe, it was natural that her Gold Award project would be focused on basin flora and fauna.

Sandborn’s interest in plants and nature was piqued during an A.P. Biology class and she saw a need for a curriculum-based learning tool that elementary students could learn from.

“Other elementary schools in the area have been expanding their science curriculum with grow domes and garden areas. And the effects have been very interesting to see,” she said. “Zephyr Cove Elementary School did not yet have a program. They were working on expanding their Place Based Curriculum and needed help implementing the physical components.”

So she created a native plant walk at the local school with a bark-chip path and identifying signs for the students to learn from.

She and her team sourced plants and bark from the Washoe State Tree Nursery and installed them and the signs over the course of a couple weekends, including creating an irrigation system for the native plants optimal success.

Sandborn said that she hopes people can learn about the importance of appreciating the beautiful place in which we live and that she has more plans to do her part in sustainability and environmental stewardship.

“I learned more about the particular set of plant species we have here in Tahoe and got the chance to look more closely at the adaptations many plants develop to be able to live here,” she said. “I would love to continue to do work related to the environment in the future.”

Though she hasn’t selected a university to attend quite yet, she says that she would like to become an astronautical engineer and hopes to double-major in physics and astronautical engineering.

Cassandra Walker is a special assignments reporter for the Sierra Nevada Media Group and a contributing writer to Sierra Nevada Powerful Woman. Email her at Click here to read a digital copy of the magazine.


See more