Vegas is showcasing some of the city’s most accomplished ladies. Hear their stories, see what they’ve done, and learn what’s possible for women who dare to have their names up in neon.
Mariena Mercer Boarini
Chef Mixologist at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Never be afraid to color outside the lines,” says Mariena Mercer Boarini, Chef Mixologist at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a love for the cosmos, a clever sense of humor and solid integrity to match.
As a native to Las Vegas, the city has been an obvious springboard to her start. But she doesn’t take the colors and vibrancy for granted, instead she uses it as inspiration to further her craft. It’s “a platform for my art,” she says, where she can experiment with eager guests from around the world every night.
She doesn’t let the glitz and glam get in the way of her daily life, however, and relishes its surprising contributions, namely, the Udon Fries at Paid In Full restaurant. “It’s a hidden gem,” she says, “it’s fun and unexpected.”
Creative Director and Partner at VegeNation, Downtown Las Vegas
Vegas is the place where Kelly Bennett, the socially-conscious creative director of VegeNation had her big break. After witnessing a natural disaster while living in China, she had a new perspective to value each moment in life and to work with empathy every day.
“I wanted to use my life to do good in the world and make it easier for others to do good with their daily lives.”
She used that drive to create a fresh street food restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas called VegeNation, which we urge you to see and taste of course. Her favorite food in the city is the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings.
She also left us with something a little more philosophical to sate our inspiration. Namely, her opinion of the three things every successful business woman should carry:
“Confidence in your creativity, education of the women and femmes who paved the way, and the courage to speak up to lead the way for future women and femmes in business.”
Center for the Las Vegas Aces, Women’s National Basketball Association
By the time Carolyn Swords got to Vegas (by way of Boston and Chicago), it was the unique character make-up of her team she found in Las Vegas that enabled her to embody the leadership role she felt born to play.
“Our team is very young,” she said, and as one of the older players on her WNBA team with the most experience, she was automatically acting as a mentor and teacher to others. The role stuck. She assists with game strategy as much as she offers advice and examples on how to self-regulate during training—from what to eat and when, to how much sleep to get, and more. It’s all the small things that, taken together, make a difference in the team’s success.
Everyone brings something to the table.
One table you’ll find her at frequently is at Mon Ami Gabi on the Strip. It’s her preferred spot across from the Bellagio fountains, where she’ll dine in delight on the beef bourguignon. She may be in repose in moments like these, but looks can also be deceiving.
Carolyn insists that small steps lead to bigger ones and documents it all in a notebook she carries with her. “I love having notes available to me if I’m feeling inspired. I love to write things down.” Maybe that strikes over dinner, or anywhere else her high-tops may tread. She’ll be ready though, with hair ties and a water bottle in tow too. Because success for Carolyn is always “game-on”.
Magician at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino
Jen Kramer’s show stands for a lot in Vegas. Not just for its awesome jolt of surprise and entertainment but because she happens to be the casino’s sole female magician.
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform in this amazing, vibrant city,” she says. Here, she is able to connect with people from all around the globe who crave surprise, who crave her brand of joy and amazement.
She seems to always be drawing inspiration from her encounters in this lively, magical city. Merely walking around, she claims as her favorite thing to do in Vegas. “The city is always changing and growing in exciting ways. There’s never a dull moment.” She finds adventure and discovery, from her favorite dish in the city limits (the chopped salad at Fresco Italiano at Westgate) to her favorite drink, “This milkshake at Sid’s Café in Westgate.” There’s practically pathos in the statement. “It’s layers of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and candy… It’s out of this world.”
Mary Sue Milliken
Co-Chef and Owner of Border Grill, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas
“The community is tight-knit, engaged, and supportive of chefs and restaurants that nurture the local food system.”
So how does she stand out among so many vibrant voices in this city’s culinary scene? It might be insightful to learn that some of her greatest models range from Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Maya Angelou, Alice Waters, Jane Goodall, “and many, many more,” she adds. Just as there was no single voice among the women leaders who inspired her most (always it is the plurality of voices that helps us distinguish our own), she seems to see things through a wide lens that frees her from what might appear limited.
She has a mantra for that: “Let go, step back, and cheerlead so that others can expand their reach.”
It all sounds rather sage, and yet, Mary Sue calls herself practical. “A little cash, a credit card and ID card” is all she said you need to carry with you as a successful business woman.
Vice President of Marketing for Live Nation Las Vegas
As a marketer in-the-know, “the world” is an awfully large segment to define. But Amanda Moore found a way to it anyway.
“I’m constantly challenged both creatively and strategically to find new and different ways to market—and I’ve grown immensely in the process.”
Leading in a place like Vegas means being open to the ever-changing character of the city, from the new venues and acts, to the guests themselves.
She appreciates life’s simple joys. When asked about her favorite thing to do in Vegas, she says, “Watching the sunset,” before quickly adding, “Just before going to a Live Nation residency show—obviously!”
Chief Experience and Marketing Officer, MGM Resorts International
This top executive at MGM Resorts International is inspired by her past, but constantly seeks to “do better,” as Lilian Tomovich says.
There’s something about the city of Las Vegas itself that gives her a fresh boost of energy to succeed.
“I work with some of the best and brightest every day.”
She got her start here, but it didn’t come instantly. She made sure to honor her worth as a woman dedicated to her field. So, when she exited graduate school eager to start the first great job, she did not settle for anything less. In fact, she held a retail job for a full year before selecting the one that would be her calling card. “It was the best decision I ever made.”
Every girl needs her burrata. Now that’s what we call having it all.