Women in Male Dominated Industries


woman holding glass of red wine 

WOMEN LEAD Specialty Conference:
Women in Male Dominated Industries

Join us January 22-23, 2024 at Gonzaga University for this Specialty Conference


Your conference ticket includes: 

  • All conference speakers and workshops

  • Light breakfast, lunch, and snacks 

  • One complimentary coaching session with a professional coach

  • Plenty of opportunities to build your network, during Spokane's best season!

Register Here!


Conference Agenda:





Our Speakers & Panelists

Patricia Bartell - Musician, CEO, Educator, Artist

“Can I ever be more than what my past has branded me?" That was the question that haunted the walls of an orphanage in Bolivia, whispered by a child whose first steps were on crutches. Patricia Bartell's story is one of real grit and turning tough times into a springboard for success. Born in Bolivia and a survivor of polio, her childhood in an orphanage didn't hold her back—it set her on a unique path. Music became her escape which led her all the way to the top as a World Champion accordion player.

In every keynote, Patricia Bartell transforms audiences around the globe. She is not just a teacher, musician, and entrepreneur, but a catalyst for change, embodying the resilience and unshakable spirit necessary to 'crush it' in life. Her message is clear: You’re not broken. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s time to crush it.

“I stand before you, not as a symbol of overcoming, but as a fellow traveler who has learned to ‘crush it’ and make the impossible possible every day.” — Patricia Bartell


Jen Pelka - Co-Founder and CEO, Une Femme Wines

Jen’s career in food and beverage began at Chef Daniel Boulud’s iconic New York restaurant DANIEL, where she worked for five years across a broad range of roles, eventually serving as the US Competition Director for the Bocuse d’Or under Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. She went on to lead influencer marketing, content strategy, and media relations in-house at OpenTable, Gilt Taste and Tumblr. Jen has been named Forbes “30 Under 30” for Food and Wine. Jen won an IACP Award for Best Culinary or Brand Site in 2012, and was a James Beard Award nominee for Best Food Coverage in a Food Publication. Jen was the CEO and founder of Magnum PR and co-founder of the beloved The Riddler champagne bars in New York City and San Francisco. Jen’s early career was in the finance industry; she is an active angel investor with a passion for ensuring women have access to capital. She is an alumna of Stanford University and the London School of Economics, where she studies the Philosophy of Science.



Yoli Gallardo - Ph.D.

Yolanda Gallardo, Ph.D. began as Dean of Gonzaga University School of Education in July of 2019. Prior to joining Gonzaga, Dean Gallardo was Associate Director for the ESL/Dual Language Program at Kansas State University, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and Dean of Education at Georgetown College, and the Robert Billings Endowed Chair of Education Studies at Berea College.

Dean Gallardo received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a bilingual specialty from the University of Arizona. She went on to receive her master’s degree in Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University, and her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University. Dr. Gallardo taught elementary school in the state of Arizona on the border of Mexico for 12 years. During her years as an educator, she conceptualized, designed, and implemented a dual language program, served as a bilingual consultant and district writing specialist, and assisted in developing a school focused on bilingual/bicultural education.


Sherri Lynch - Ph.D.

Sherri Lynch is the founder of the Women Lead program at Gonzaga University. Since 2016, she has built the program, which includes conferences, workshops, webinars, book clubs, and even a certificate program, with a mission of educating and empowering women. Her doctoral research focused on building inclusive communities and she is a strong advocate for women. She currently serves as the Assistant Dean in the School of Leadership Studies.



Jill Yashinsky Wortman

Almost five years ago, Jill experienced a life-changing loss. She left her fifteen-year career and followed her obsession with coaching. Today, she empowers women to live their passions by helping them silence self-doubt, overcome hesitation, and live confidently. She is a Co-Active Training Institute and International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach, the second highest coaching certification available. Jill is also a trained Playing Big facilitator, focused on helping women live more loyal to their dreams than their fears. As a coach, Jill has worked with leaders across the globe, empowering them to own their most authentic, powerful selves. Outside of coaching, she loves being a mom, tending to her hobby farm, reading and traveling.


Sam Jennings - Ph.D.

Dr. Sam Jennings II is the leadership strategist of 360 Clarity. The common thread through Sam’s formal education, employment, and coaching is curiosity. Curiosity drives Sam to learn, act, engage, and continuously improve.

As a life-long learner, Sam understands that the most important cultural phenomenon any organization can foster is employee engagement. When employees are engaged, they are satisfied with their work, they better support one another within the organization, and provide high quality service to all of the organization’s partners and customers. Engagement can be seen in autonomy, mastery, and purpose which can all be developed through leadership development, supervisor training, experience with diversity & inclusion, and a whole lot of empathy. The process of improving employee engagement requires continuous learning practically and academically.

Sam has worked in higher education physically in Idaho, Oregon, Missouri, and South Dakota as a student up to dean of students and adjunct faculty. Remotely, Sam adds Iowa and Virginia to the list. Sam earned degrees at Lewis-Clark State College, Portland State University, and Capella University in Minneapolis.

Sam enjoys behavioral economics, diversity and inclusion, leadership coaching, and organizational development. Recreationally, Sam enjoys a hike with some elevation, video games, and playing games with his family.


Jennifer Rheuban Thomas

Jennifer Thomas is Director of National Accounts for John Anthony Vineyards and is the founder of “Rooted Connections”, a membership-based company geared towards educating women in the alcohol beverage industry about the business of the industry. She is an advocate for educating women and seeks to provide them the tools to be able to advance their role as a leader in the beverage space through workshops and “The Five Project”. Jennifer is a native of Los Angeles and completed her master's degree in organizational leadership at Gonzaga University in 2022.


Charlotte Nemec, ‘education-obsessed’ CEO, Canopy Credit Union

Charlotte began serving as President/CEO in 2018. Since starting at the credit union in 1995, her roles have included managing HR and serving as the VP of Administration. Charlotte cares deeply about giving back to the Spokane community, considers herself education-obsessed, and constantly strives to learn and grow. She currently serves with the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant Greater Spokane Incorporated Finance Committee, Whitworth University Institute of Leadership, United Way of Spokane County, and the GoWest Foundation. Charlotte is also passionate about cooking, hiking, and spending time with her cat and dog.


Angelina Mondavi

Angelina Mondavi is at the forefront of a new generation of winemakers in Napa Valley. She began her career at the age of 10 assisting the lab manager at her family’s winery Charles Krug. After graduating from high school, she attended Villanova University and majored in chemistry and minored in Business to create a well-rounded foundation for her future in the wine industry. She earned a Master’s degree in Oenology from the University of Adelaide in Australia. She’s had an incredible career in the wine industry, partnering with various family members to create brands that honor her grandfathers, Robert Mondavi and Peter Mondavi Sr. At the age of 35 and working dual-hemispheres, Angelina completed her 28th harvest and launched her very own company, A. Mondavi Consulting. Consulting as a winemaker and maintaining a Napa Valley focus, her portfolio includes Brasswood Cellars, Dark Matter Wines, Aloft, Juslyn Vineyards, and Castlevale. In addition to running her personal business, Angelina currently carries the honor serving as a director on the family’s company board for C. Mondavi & Family, with a goal to continue the family legacy. When she’s not working, Angelina enjoys fly fishing, skiing Tahoe, hiking the trails of Napa Valley, and playing with her Red Lab Bailey.

Jessica Bean – PE, PMP, Jacobs

Jessica Bean, a licensed civil engineer and project manager, has cultivated her career and expertise in male-dominated industries. From shipyards to engineering firms and the utility sector, Jessica has woven her professional journey through male-dominated fields. In her higher educational pursuits encompassing engineering, construction management, and financial planning, Jessica has consistently thrived in environments where women are the minority. Beyond her technical prowess, Jessica, a dedicated wife and mother of two, actively contributes to empowering and representing women in spaces traditionally dominated by men.


Karlene Hoo - Dean, School of Engineering and Applies Science, Gonzaga University

Prior to entering academia, Dean Hoo worked as a chemical engineer in private industry, primarily with Exxon-Mobil and DuPont. After launching her academic career at the University of South Carolina, where she won a prestigious National Sciences Foundation CAREER award, Dr. Hoo joined Texas Tech University. At Texas Tech, she served in multiple administrative positions, including co-director of an industrial consortium of Texas industries and businesses, Associate Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Associate Dean of Research in the College of Engineering, and Associate Vice President for Research. For three years, she also served as a Program Director in the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation. As a professor, Dr. Hoo’s research interests are in optimization of large-scale dynamic systems, multivariate statistical analysis, and the synthesis of feedback control systems. She has served on numerous graduate-student committees, and eleven students have received their Ph.D. under her direction. Moreover, Dr. Hoo has a sustained record of scholarly productivity (over 100 publications, presentations, book chapters, etc.), research grants, and professional society leadership roles.


Raylene Gennett - Wastewater Director for City of Spokane

Raylene Gennett is the Wastewater Director for the City of Spokane and brings 32 years of experience, a college degree, and several certifications to her leadership role. Raylene started her career with the City in 1991 as a garbage collector and then transferred to the sewer department as a laborer. Her next move was to be a Wastewater Specialist and was then promoted to her first management position in 2006. Working for over a decade in Wastewater she worked closely on the wastewater and Combined Sewer Overflow system project. Raylene’s next leadership position was as Superintendent of Wastewater Collection, which oversees wastewater collection and stormwater operations. Today, she leads over 127 employees at the Riverside Park treatment plant and another 77 employees in the collections and stormwater group.

Being employed with the City for a few decades has provided her with opportunities and projects she has extreme pride in. Today, nearly 100% of all sewer and stormwater is treated and cleaned before it goes back into the Spokane River because of the Combined Sewer Overflow system. Did you know that when you are sitting on the Brickwest Plaza enjoying a beer, there could be millions of gallons of water being held until it can make its way to the treatment plant underneath you? Raylene has a reputation for putting people first and helping others. Internally, she co-launched a safety program within the department, this included training employees to be safe in a confined space, construction-trenching, and shoring. Her leadership continues to advance awareness, practices, and equipment that improve employee safety.

Raylene received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management, completed the American Water Works Association Water Utility Management Institute’s Advanced Management Leadership program, and maintains several certifications in her field.

When Raylene isn’t leading her team to provide affordable and reliable utility services and improving the health of the Spokane River, she enjoys spending time with her family which ranges from infant grandkids to family elders who like camping, fishing, and sitting around a fire cooking s’mores. She likes doing yard work, gardening, helping others, and watching most sports, especially cheering on the Lady Zags basketball team as a season ticket holder.  


Ashley Ward, SVP/Chief Information Officer, Hapo Credit Union

Ashley Ward, the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer with over 21 years of experience, is a dynamic leader in the information technology sector. Ashley's career has evolved from software engineering to executive leadership, managing large-scale IT systems and operations across federal, state, commercial, and financial industries. With a track record of leading teams to achieve high-quality, budget-aligned IT solutions, Ashley has collaborated with prestigious entities like the Department of Energy, Lockheed Martin, and Microsoft. At HAPO Community Credit Union, Ashley adeptly balances enhancing current technologies with pioneering new advancements, underpinning their role in developing and executing forward-thinking technology strategies. Recognized for their innovative leadership, Ashley has received accolades including the Women in IT Silicon Valley Award and the Connected Plant Game Changers Award. Ashley's expertise and strategic vision are vital to shaping the integration of technology in modern business landscapes.