Women at the Top: High-Power Leaders in Our High-Altitude Town

Women at the Top: High-Power Leaders in Our High-Altitude Town

April 27, 2024

From Truckee.com: An Insider’s Guide, Spring 2024

Young women in Truckee have plenty of business-savvy women to look up to because our community’s leaders include a lot of female faces. In fact, our first Truckee mayor, who led the charge for Truckee’s incorporation as a town in 1993, was Kathleen Eagan, who is still an environmental activist and LibraryUp! Campaign Co-Chair – a grass-roots effort to build a modern library in Truckee.

Although the population of Truckee has been steadily growing, our numbers still register as a town, but in high visitation months in summer and winter, the Tahoe population can more than quadruple in size, so our leaders are dealing with bigger city issues as well. Three women, Courtney Henderson, Anna Klovstad, and Lindsay Romack currently hold three of the five Truckee Town Council Member seats and all three have served as mayor.  After healthcare, construction and ski resorts are some of the top industries in Truckee-Tahoe, and the three largest area ski resorts, Sugar Bowl Resort, Northstar California, and Palisades Tahoe are all led by women. The Contractors Association of Truckee-Tahoe (CATT) recently named their first woman President, Megan Behm, and the Board of Tahoe Donner Association, one of the largest homeowners associations in the country, recently announced Annie Rosenfeld as their new General Manager. Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s CEO, Colleen Dalton, has innovatively led Truckee visitation for many years, most recently focusing on sustainability practices.

Meghan Behm, President, Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe (CATT)

In January of this year, Meghan Behm became the first female president of Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe, heading the nonprofit’s Board of Directors. Meghan has lived in the Tahoe area for more than 25 years. She comes from a family of contractors and subcontractors. Meghan is an owner and partner of Sierra Crest Cabinets, a family-owned business that has been operating in Tahoe-Truckee for more than 20 years. They specialize in helping clients build their dream kitchens. When she’s not working, Meghan enjoys hiking and kayaking with her family.

Dee Byrne, President & COO, Palisades Tahoe

Dee Byrne started teaching skiing at age 14 and has continued working in the ski industry for more than 30 years, holding numerous positions across prominent mountains and brands. In August 2021, she was named President and COO of Palisades Tahoe – responsible for one of the country’s most iconic resorts and 6000 acres of skiing, as well as holding the Stifel World Cup for the past two years. In addition to her role at the resort, Dee serves on multiple Boards of Directors and is an advisor to PSIA on National and Divisional levels, and received PSIA/AASI’s National “Distinguished Service Award” in April 2020.

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? The focus I have placed on “people and purpose first” in order to positively evolve our culture and attend to the needs and wants of all our stakeholders including my employees, guests, community, planet, and shareholders.  I’m proud to be known as someone others can rely on and who cares to do the right thing, not just the easy thing. 

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader? I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my career whom I can still call on today.  In terms of inspiring me to become a leader, I attribute that to my coaches from the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).  I developed through the PSIA pipeline where learning to teach skiing actually directly transferred to learning to lead people and I became really motivated to become a collaborative leader of teams. It’s really fun and rewarding to successfully guide a group toward a common goal!

What advice do you  have for women just starting or reimagining their careers? Practice and continuously develop emotional self-awareness. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma in business that women are too emotional compared to men. Don’t let that be your stigma; know yourself and learn how to let your emotions work for you in positive ways. This is a key to effective interpersonal relationships.

Stacy Caldwell, CEO, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation

Stacy Caldwell has served as CEO of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) since 2012. For more than two decades, she has specialized in social innovation and entrepreneurship, impact investing, and venture philanthropy. During her time in Tahoe, she helped design a strategic plan that has launched many successful ventures including Give Back Tahoe, Tahoe50, Mountain Housing Council, and Forest Futures, which have collectively raised and leveraged more than $70 million for our region.

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? Introducing social impact brands to Truckee like Give Back Tahoe, Tahoe50 Giving Club, Mountain Housing Council, and Forest Futures.

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader?  What inspired me to become a leader…. I am a quilter of both fabric and community resources. Early in my career, I learned that I was good at “repurposing resources for good.” I believe that there are enough resources on the planet, we just have to put them together better.

What advice do you  have for women just starting or reimagining their careers? A career is more than just a string of jobs. Set your intention and invest in the path. Like a long-term relationship, you just have to show up and do what needs to be done. It is in the mistakes and challenges that we demonstrate our commitment to a vision. Jerks are always found-out. Trust your instincts and give yourself grace.

Jen Callaway, Town Manager, Town of Truckee

The Town Manager is the chief executive that oversees the administration and strategic direction of all Town departments and provides leadership to the organization. Jen Callaway was sworn in as Truckee’s Town Manager in October 2020. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and a Law Degree from Syracuse University and has more than 20 years of experience in local government and success with several agencies. She works collaboratively with many different community and government agencies to recommend and implement new programs and keep Truckee thriving and safe. 

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? I am really proud to serve as the Truckee Town Manager, to have worked at various levels in local government, learning the work of public service and growing into the role of Town Manager for this community.As the Town Manager and employee of the Town, we are provided the opportunity to implement and recommend programs and priorities that are life changing, such as our housing access programs, fantastic trail system which provides an opportunity to recreate but also commute throughout town, our well-maintained roads and work in providing accessible transit options and meaningful programs for sustainability and climate protection. I work with an amazing Public Safety Department and dedicated staff working hard to best prepare ourselves in the event of an emergency, bringing new software and tools, communication and programs that will help everyone in our community, and of course land use and shaping the future Truckee.  Being Town Manager is challenging, rewarding, inspiring … quite simply, it is the best job!

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader? I learned the value of work, work ethic and strong sense of responsibility at a young age from my mom, who, as a single parent, worked long hours to support us.  It is that sense of responsibility and work ethic that pushed me to learn and grow, to take on more roles and responsibilities throughout my career.  I was so fortunate to have been provided with great opportunities and mentorship from so many of my former supervisors and government leaders.  My hope is that I am paying that forward by providing opportunities to others. 

What is one thing you’d say to women who are just starting their careers?  Set your dreams and goals high because you can absolutely achieve whatever you set you mind to.  Find your north star and follow it! 

Colleen Dalton, CEO, Visit Truckee-Tahoe

Colleen Dalton landed in Truckee in 1994 and spent the next 30 years of her career in tourism, from adventure travel to places like Tibet and Patagonia to Brand executive roles in the ski industry (Sugar Bowl, Northstar California, Mammoth Mountain). Along the way, she earned an MBA in emerging technology, a personal passion. Post ski industry years, Colleen was the Director of Tourism & Economic Development for Truckee Chamber from 2015-2020 and then led the formation of Truckee’s first official tourism authority, Visit Truckee-Tahoe. Just published, is the organization’s Two Year Strategic Plan for sustainable, balanced tourism that leans heavily on partnership and collaboration.

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career?  I’m a huge fan of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. My favorite is “Begin with the End in Mind” which means use your imagination – envision what you cannot see today and trust your instinct, especially with emerging technology. It’s like the parting of the red sea when you believe in something. And yet, knowing when to let go and move on is critical. I’ve tried to be a role model for young women.

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader? Incredibly smart women who were effective in a society that was challenging for “strong women” always inspired me – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and more. Today, I look around and am so proud of the amazing women you are highlighting in Truckee-Tahoe.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting or reimagining their careers?  You are who you surround yourself with. Make sure your orbit is filled with great human beings who believe in, support and encourage you. Read Fierce Self Compassion by Kristin Neff, be unapologetically you, be kind, and say you’re sorry when you really, truly are. 

Courtney Henderson, Truckee Town Council Member

Courtney Henderson was elected to Truckee Town Council in 2020. She was immediately nominated to Vice Mayor and served as Mayor in 2022. She fell in love with Truckee in 2011 (on a mountain biking trip) when she found the same sense of community and connection to the land with which she grew up. She planted roots in Truckee shortly thereafter, integrating herself within the community and starting a family.

Courtney is an energy, climate, and health strategist with 20 years of experience in those sectors. Her work has taken her throughout the United States and as far afield as Western Africa and Northern India. She has extensive experience helping utility companies achieve their energy goals to move toward a cleaner, more equitable energy future, and in public health, supporting organizations in the development of health research infrastructure and improving the provision of healthcare. Courtney is the Head of Market Strategy for Resource Innovations. In this role, she drives market strategy development, planning, innovation, policy and regulatory efforts, and thought leadership to support the Company’s business.

Courtney has taught extensively, mentoring nearly 100 early-career students in public and international health at University of California, Berkeley, Touro University, and University of Nevada, Reno. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University, Master of Public Health from Brown University; and Doctorate in Public Health from University of California, Berkeley.

Courtney is also a pro-level mountain bike racer, all-around adventure seeker, and mom to an adventure-seeking grade schooler.

Anna Klovstad, Truckee Town Council Member

Anna Klovstad is a dynamic leader with more than three decades of expertise and a proven track record of sustainable initiatives for a more resilient future. She has extensive construction, planning, and policy experience in the public realm. Committed to advancing an organization’s mission that prioritizes environmental stewardship, customer satisfaction, and employee well-being.

Anna and her family have lived in Truckee since 1997. She was elected to the Truckee Town Council in 2018 and has served as mayor and vice mayor. Her dream is to help the Town of Truckee achieve its 100% renewable and carbon reduction goals. Anna would like Truckee to become a model sustainable mountain town with a triple bottom line approach that integrates the benefits of promoting the environment, economy, and equity. To that end, Anna founded Truckee-Tahoe’s Climate Transformation Alliance in 2022.

Environmental and sustainable practices are Anna’s passion. She is in a unique position to make a difference with her job as a construction manager for the Tahoe City Public Utility District and, previously, for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD), where she spearheaded and managed the State and Federal award-winning TTUSD sustainability program. Her leadership has resulted in energy efficiency improvements in the School District that save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Anna holds a degree in Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is a licensed Certified Construction Manager (CCM) through the Construction Managers Association of America (CMAA) and a licensed Certified Energy Manager (CEM) from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). Anna is also a Certified Project Manager through the San Francisco Institute for Architects.

Kerstin Kramer, Superintendent Chief Learning Officer, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District 

Kerstin Kramer brings three decades of experience as an educational leader, dedicating herself to serving students in various capacities. In 2023, Kerstin was named Superintendent Chief Learning Officer for TTUSD after serving as Associate Superintendent. Kerstin’s journey began as a middle school teacher, where she taught English Language Arts, Math, and Science for 15 years. After serving in a leadership role as a district-wide teacher and motivated by her commitment to professional growth, she pursued a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from the University of Washington. After four years as Principal of Snoqualmie Elementary School, where she helped the school receive national honors, Kramer became principal of Glenshire Elementary School in 2016 and the school flourished under her six years of leadership, becoming a California Distinguished School.

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? Over my three decades in public education, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside countless incredible people who have collectively achieved remarkable successes for our students. Making a difference for students and my coworkers brings me tremendous pride, and I’ve been so lucky to be a part of numerous teams that have had lasting impacts. 

One recent highlight is the recognition of Glenshire Elementary as a CA Distinguished School. This important acknowledgment reflects the tireless efforts of the GES team during my tenure as principal, as well as their continued excellence under Principal Rachael Kuttel’s leadership. It’s a testament to our shared commitment to academic excellence and student success. This achievement reinforces my belief in the transformative power of collaboration and serves as a reminder of the impact we can make when we work together towards a common goal.

Did you have a mentor/what inspired you to become a leader? I have been fortunate to have many excellent mentors over the years. My mentors’ ability to recognize my potential and inspire me to take on new challenges has been critical for my continued growth and success. I am an introvert by nature and tend to shy away from the limelight. They supported me in embracing my leadership strengths and worked with me to develop an effective leadership style that fits my personality and is authentic to who I am. They also pointed out job opportunities and encouraged me to apply. Without these cheerleaders, I would not be the Superintendent Chief Learning Officer for TTUSD.

What advice do you have for women just starting or reimagining their careers? Be open to possibilities and stay curious. The only limits we have are the ones we allow ourselves to keep. If you believe you can do it, you can! 

Bridget Legvansky, CEO of Sugar Bowl Resort

Bridget Legvansky and her family of four took on a new adventure after the pandemic and packed up and moved to Tahoe from their home in New Zealand for her position as CEO of Sugar Bowl in October 2022. Bridget has worked in the ski industry for more than 30 years, starting as a ski instructor working at resorts across the globe, including several seasons in the U.S. at Breckenridge and Aspen. In 2014, she assumed the role of General Manager at Cardrona Alpine Resort in her native New Zealand. While at Cardrona, the resort saw impressive growth in skier visits by shifting focus to terrain parks and a highly engaged workforce. Bridget’s focus at Sugar Bowl has been keeping the “small mountain feel” culture and a great work environment at Sugar Bowl. To present at the Ski Resort Roundup for Good Morning Truckee in November 2023, Bridget wore a “Ski Happy” Sugar Bowl t-shirt, jeans, and boots and declared that skiing is still her happy place. We believe her. 

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career?  The input I had (with many others) in developing so many great snow athletes out of New Zealand. Mainly in developing training programs, coaching and nurturing athletes, building park and pipe facilities and hosting world class events.

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader?  It has been quite natural and accidental. Never really planned – just started with having my own clear philosophy on what really good looks and feels like and then worked hard to achieve it by engaging people around me in the same vision.  

What would you say to women who are just starting their careers?  Love what you do and do what you love. Take full responsibility and ownership of your goals and make yourself accountable to them so that you are in full control of achieving them. Laugh a lot and stretch your thinking constantly.

Stephanie Nistler, CEO, Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe

Stephanie Nistler has devoted her life to working in animal welfare since 1996. Before 2004, the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe was operating in a single-wide trailer, organizing foster families for area homeless pets while raising funds to open a permanent shelter. Stephanie Nistler spent a year volunteering and fundraising for the HSTT and then was hired as its first employee. Her vision, collaboration, and hard work has helped the HSTT become one of the most successful nonprofit organizations in the area, rescuing thousands of homeless animals a year through adoptions. HSTT also facilitates programs that benefit our community, including RUFF reading support programs, pet loss counseling, pet-assisted therapy programs, community spay and neuter programs, a community pet pantry, and community pet wellness clinics and medical grants. In addition, under her leadership, the HSTT opened Thrifty Tails Boutique last year in the Westgate Plaza, all donations and sales benefit local animal welfare.

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? I’m incredibly proud of what an integral part of our community HSTT has become. In addition to helping thousands of families grow by at least one furry family member (thus saving thousands of lives), we are a constant resource for people who need help caring for the pets they love. Our services span the Tahoe region from Truckee to South Lake Tahoe to Sierra County, and you can find HSTT programs in our local schools, hospitals, libraries, resource and community centers, and, of course, at our Truckee and SLT locations. 

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader?  I had a powerhouse of a mom who, from an early age, made me believe I was capable of anything. When I first began working in animal welfare in an entry-level position at a high-volume animal shelter in Utah, I saw firsthand the direct impact that bad leadership had on the lives of the animals we cared for. I vowed to work toward holding a leadership position someday and not making the same mistakes. It was a big goal, but I knew I could achieve it with hard work and perseverance. 

What advice do you have for women just starting or reimagining their careers? Set your sights on where you want to go, believe in yourself, and put in the work. You can be anything you want to be. If leadership is your goal, the path is not easy, but it is very rewarding. It takes persistence, drive, and the acceptance that sometimes you will fail, and not everyone will like you along the way. Be strong, determined, compassionate, and kind; care for the people around you and stay focused on your mission/goals. You got this! 

Amy Ohran, Vice President and General Manager, Northstar California

Amy Ohran has been a ski industry leader for more than 24 years. A mountain enthusiast and avid skier and climber, Amy started in the industry as a ski instructor. Before taking the helm of Northstar in July 2022, she was with Powdr Corp., serving as VP and General Manager of Woodward Mountain Centers in Tahoe and Park City. Before then, she was President and GM of Boreal Mountain. Amy was recognized with a SAMMY Leadership Award in 2017. In addition to leading the Vail Resorts team at Northstar California, Amy is very involved in the Truckee-Lake Tahoe community. She is a board member with NSAA, Ski California, Tahoe Fund, and the North Lake Tahoe Climber Coalition. She’s also an advisor for the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation.

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? What makes me most proud in my career is being part of the growth journey of future leaders in the ski industry. My early experiences as a coach have given rise to seeing unique potential in people and belief in what their possibilities may be.

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader?  A lot of my leadership inspiration was formed by women climbers. Climbing is a sport where women brake barriers, big ones, and that came with me every step of my career. The motivations weren’t to prove or to break barriers, but to do something they were driven to do, fueled to make happen through purpose. I have always felt fueled to share this sport as a pathway for progression and personal growth.

What would you say to women who are just starting their careers?  Building female leadership is critical not only in building diversity and inclusion in our workforce, driving female participation in our sports, but in adding to the vision of what our sports and community can be. Diversity of perspective leads to growth in our abilities to see possibilities. Building female leadership will help shape a vision that has not yet been seen.

In my growth as a leader, I’m not looking to fit into what is now, I’m creating my own sequence that might feel more relevant to other women leaders. In climbing I learned from other women, who had their own style. This happens a lot in leadership; you find a new sequence that is relevant to you, and other leaders may see an opportunity in a new way; male or female. I love working alongside other female leaders that have this mindset, one that really drives leading with individuality. There are more and more women in leadership roles that have created new possibilities that didn’t exist before.

Mayumi Peacock, Founder and Publisher, Moonshine Ink

Mayumi Peacock is Founder and Publisher of Moonshine Ink, North Lake Tahoe/Truckee’s independent newspaper since 2002. Moonshine Ink produces a monthly print publication with 24,000 readers along with thousands more a month on their website, which is home to digital editions of every print issue, regular regional Covid-19 updates, and exclusive online reporting and multimedia content. A voice for many issues that affect Truckee-Tahoe’s locals, Moonshine Ink is our region’s award-winning independent newspaper, recognized with numerous editorial and advertising awards from the National Newspaper Association as well as local awards. As of December 2023, she added “mother” to her job title (as well as being a longtime dog mom).

What is one thing you’re most proud of in your career? Perseverance. There have been many many times when it would have been easy to throw in the towel, within this challenging newspaper industry. Yet, serving our brilliant community encouraged me to keep going and so I did.  Also, Moonshine has attracted incredible staff over its 20+ years. These ‘Shiners,’ past and present, have done extraordinary things, of which I couldn’t be more proud.

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader? Again, it goes back to our community. I thought we deserved a publication that reflected the hearty, funky, colorful, passionate, intelligent community that I saw. To this day, I still get surprised and remain in awe of our mountain hamlet. 

What advice do you  have for women just starting or reimagining their careers? Tuck into your intuition to find what truly rocks your world. Follow that thread and allow any curveballs to be valuable lessons. 

Jessica Penman, President & CEO Truckee Chamber of Commerce

Jessica Penman was named President and CEO of the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, Truckee’s largest business member organization, in October 2022. Since she arrived, she hit the ground running, spearheading the Chamber’s first ever Strategic Plan, forming the Chamber’s first active Government Action Committee, and implementing new innovative programs to support business communities, such as Lunch & Learn and Town Talks, as well as starting an Economic Development Workforce Committee, whose first project TNT Tech Teens begins in April. The Chamber also runs the Truckee Welcome Center, which comes with its own challenges. Jessica brings knowledge from her active participation in the Western Association of Chamber Executives (W.A.C.E.). In February W.A.C.E. announced that Jessica was selected to serve a second term on their Emerging Leaders Council as Vice Chair. 

What is one thing that you’re most proud of in your career? This is a hard question! Since I started at the Truckee Chamber, I have been so proud to be part of an organization that works to make Truckee the best it can be. I am excited about some new projects we are launching this year, including North Tahoe Tech Teens and our Government Action Committee. 

Did you have a mentor and/or what inspired you to become a leader? I have a couple of mentors who have helped me to get to where I am today. The first is my former boss from the Yountville Chamber of Commerce, Whitney Diver McEvoy. She helped me realize how much I love chamber work, helped me grow in this industry, and helped me confidently take on the role of President & CEO of the Truckee Chamber in October of 2022. 

My other mentors are all of my amazing women friends who I have seen become leaders right alongside me. It is amazing to see all the incredible work that they are doing, from being a teacher, starting their own businesses, leading large and small teams, being unafraid to change careers and just living their lives the best they can. They inspire me to continue living my life in a way I am proud of.

What would you say to women who are just starting their careers? Make sure you find your people. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the people who believe in and help me to move forward. Part of being a leader is not being afraid of failing and the easiest way to get back up after a failure is when you have a support system you can turn to. No one can do it alone! 

Lindsay Romack, Truckee Town Council Member

Lindsay Romack was seemingly everywhere in Truckee for the past two years that she served as the mayor of Truckee – officiating ribbon cuttings for numerous events and program launches, often with her adorable toddler in tow. She continues to serve on the Town Council. Lindsay has been a been a proud member of the Truckee-Tahoe community for more than 16 years. Through hard work, she grew from a recent college graduate ski bum to an active community member, new homeowner, and new mom. She wants to ensure that Truckee continues to provide opportunities for others to thrive and establish roots here as well.

Lindsay’s experience working for local government has given her a unique perspective into the important challenges and issues facing our region. That, combined with the knowledge learned from hosting the morning show on Truckee Tahoe Radio for a decade, serving on the Sierra Community House Board, graduating from the North Lake Tahoe Truckee Leadership program, and volunteering for the Truckee Follies, give her a unique perspective as a leader to serve this community. Housing, sustainability, inclusion, transportation, and the impacts of the global pandemic on our community’s health and economy are key issues that Lindsay tackles as a Town Councilmember.

Annie Rosenfield, General Manager, Tahoe Donner Association

Annie Rosenfeld first joined Tahoe Donner as the Recreation Manager in 2003. Following grad school, she then became the Capital Projects Manager, the Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, the Director of Risk Management and Real Property and, more recently, the Director of Administrative Services. She returned to Tahoe Donner as the Interim General Manager in August 2023. During the executive search, she stood out among several hundred applicants from across the nation and was named Tahoe Donner’s General Manager in April 2024.

Annie earned her undergrad degree with a double major in English/linguistics and Anthropology and master’s degree in education from the University of Nevada-Reno. After joining Tahoe Donner in 2003, overseeing the programming and management of the Trout Creek Recreation Center, her career trajectory has continued to make Tahoe Donner the best it can be. Having served in various capacities with the association for more twenty years, Rosenfeld brings decades of personal and professional experience to the role.

Annie has a broad and strong background in recreation and risk management, recreation and park districts, multiple Tahoe ski areas and professional swimming and coaching. She is a dedicated mom, wife, athlete and community volunteer who constantly works to find time for everyone and everything. You can often find Annie and her family enjoying the Tahoe Donner trails on her personal time.