EMBA Alumni Update: UNLV EMBA Cohort 4 Alumna, Tanya Flanagan is at the Forefront of Las Vegas’ Social Justice Philanthropic Initiatives

Jul. 20, 2017


Emboldened by personal experiences, UNLV EMBA Cohort 4 alumna, Tanya Flanagan, lives life with passion and commitment, fighting for just causes and social change. 

Recently named board president for Susan G. Komen Nevada, she’s dedicated to bringing life-affirming knowledge about breast cancer detection, treatment, support services and research to millions of Nevadans. She fights for life-altering initiatives like neighborhood revitalization through her volunteerism with the Urban League. And, professionally, as public information administrator overseeing the website communications efforts of 38 Clark County departments, she helps inform Nevadans and a global audience on the county’s many business, social and recreational services.  

“Personally and professionally, open dialogue and honest communication is key to educating, engaging and inspiring others,” said Flanagan.

Combating ignorance, injustice, and inequality is deeply ingrained in Flanagan’s character. At age eight, while growing up in Arizona, Flanagan tagged along after her older brother to the Urban League’s Summer Youth Employment Program in which he was enrolled. “It was summer; my parents worked and I needed to be somewhere,” she said. Flanagan didn’t know it at the time, but her Urban League encounter would fuel a commitment to volunteerism and motivate her to arouse in others the desire to give of themselves.

"Everyone, but especially business leaders, have a responsibility to make a difference in their communities,” said Flanagan.

Years after being inspired by her brother’s “empowerment” experience, Flanagan brought her can-do personality to Las Vegas to become the driving force behind establishing the city’s Urban League Young Professionals, eventually serving as the organization’s president. She also served as the National Urban League Young Professionals western region vice president with oversight for chapters in Arizona, Nevada, California, Colorado, Washington State and Alaska. Today, Flanagan chairs the Las Vegas Urban League’s Community Action Agency Board.

“My vision is to make neighborhood revitalization high-profile and high-priority. There are Las Vegans who live in decaying neighborhoods that are a toxic mixture of poverty, racial disparities, illiteracy and family breakdown.  This combination of social and economic deficiencies often results in condemning our community’s children to dead-end futures,” said Flanagan. “We should all be committed to creating neighborhoods where children have the resources necessary to secure a better future.” 

Flanagan is just as resolute about her role as the Susan G. Komen Nevada board president. A three-time breast cancer survivor, she openly shares her own experience, spurring others to action; lending comfort to those undergoing their own cancer journeys, and educating all who will listen on the importance of early detection and diagnosis; the continued need for ground-breaking research, and the integral role Komen has in funding essential community services, medical access, and education. Prior to her tenure as board president, Flanagan served as the organization’s chair for Multicultural Initiatives and Outreach. For more than four years, she tirelessly worked within minority communities to increase awareness about early detection of breast cancer.

“People are so accustomed to seeing a ‘sea of pink’ they think that everyone must be aware of the need for early detection; have access to mammograms and, when necessary, advanced treatment options, as well as knowledge of and access to available support services for patients and families,” Flanagan said. “Many also incorrectly assume there’s more than enough money to fund research and services. Yet that’s just not true. There’s so much more to be done and time is of the essence.”

According to information provided by Susan G. Komen, it’s estimated that in 2017 there will be 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer; 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer and 40,610 breast cancer deaths among U.S. women. African-American women have the highest breast cancer mortality overall.

Flanagan noted that Komen is not a direct service provider, but is a crucial provider of grants, and other forms of funding, for a variety of community-based breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment programs for the medically underserved. For 2016-17, Komen Nevada awarded $686,585 in community grants to fund lifesaving education, screening, and treatment programs through a variety of local entities and organizations.

There’s no doubt that Flanagan’s leadership acumen, limitless commitment, and contagious passion has brought her to the forefront of Las Vegas’ philanthropic landscape. She credits her UNLV EMBA education with empowering her to be a leader who is strategic, effective and who gains the trust and confidence of others. “Working at the board of director level with non-profits is like running a business,” she said. “You’re often overseeing multi-million budgets and developing strategic plans all while relying on an emotional intelligence that allows you to work and communicate with everyone from volunteers and staff to fellow board members, corporate executives and the community at-large.”

Professionally, Flanagan does not shy away from a challenge, an attribute she said was sharpened by her UNLV EMBA experience. She currently serves as public information administrator/web content with the office of Public Communications for Clark County where she assists 38 county departments with their presence on the web. She has been a candidate for City Council in North Las Vegas, which she lost on the draw of a card; served as liaison between the community and the Clark County commissioners for two districts on issues like gang violence, police, housing and grass roots initiatives; held the position of public relations manager for MGM properties including Treasure Island, The Mirage, MGM Grand, New York New York, Golden Nugget, Bellagio and Beau Rivage, and at one point early in her career, she worked as a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter.

Flanagan encourages even those who choose a less traditional, non-linear career path to seriously consider pursuing an EMBA from UNLV. “The program can be life changing. It changes your perspective,” she said.