\ Angel Awards: Acknowledging the valley's most outstanding philanthropic leaders - VEGAS INC \

Angel Awards: Acknowledging the valley’s most outstanding philanthropic leaders

The Vegas Inc Angel Awards were established to acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of our community’s most outstanding philanthropic leaders. Now in its 13th year, these awards recognize Southern Nevadans whose generous spirits ensure everyone across the Valley has the resources they need to survive and thrive.

Our 2020 Angel Award honorees represent this spirit of giving in action. These seven deserving businesses and individuals were nominated by the public and reviewed by a panel of previous Angel Award recipients based on their service to our community, accomplishments and leadership. We are thrilled to share their stories and highlight the work they are doing in Southern Nevada. 

In a time when this community has stepped up to care for one another, it is exceptional individuals and companies, such as these, whose visionary leadership and commitment to service have advanced the lives of others. Their contributions are what make the Las Vegas Valley a better place for all of us to call home.

Profiles of the 2020 Angel Award honorees originally appeared in Vegas Inc’s Giving Guide. Sign up to get each of Vegas Inc’s special publications delivered to your inbox on the day of their release.

Joshua Bonde, Ph.D. - Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Joshua Bonde

Joshua Bonde

Curator of Paleontology | Age: 39

Growing up on a 48-acre alfalfa farm in northern Nevada, Joshua Bonde got pretty good with a shovel and spool of bailing wire—skills he now uses regularly as a paleontologist.

Bonde set out from a young age to conquer the mystery of the dinosaur. “When I was 7 or 8, my parents took me and my brother to the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California in Berkeley; the museum was having an animatronic dinosaur exhibit,” Bonde said. “The life-size dinosaurs scared me, and from that moment on, I was going to figure out these dinosaurs.”

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Nicole Brisson - Locale Italian Kitchen & craft cocktails

Nicole Brisson

Nicole Brisson

Executive Chef and Partner | Age: 38

Nicole Brisson is a woman of firsts.

She’s the youngest woman to become a chef at a reputable Las Vegas restaurant on the Strip. She became the first female executive chef of an Eataly in the U.S., when she opened the company’s first Las Vegas location. And, she’s the first chef appointed to the board of directors of the Southern Nevada Health District.

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Kady Casullo - The Emergent Group, The Powell Law Firm

Kady Casullo

Kady Casullo

Partner, Director of Firm Relations | Age: 34

Kady Casullo didn’t choose her career; it chose her. “I was in the legal field wanting to pursue law school when I was introduced to a family friend who was heavily involved with numerous nonprofit organizations,” Casullo said. “What started as a decision to volunteer led to a deep desire for wanting to help others and to a career transition.”

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Laura Christian - Discovery Children’s Museum

Laura Christian

Laura Christian

Director of Learning Experiences | Age: 39

Curiosity. Wonder. Enthusiasm. Energy. These are the characteristics that Laura Christian admires most about young children.

Christian began her career as a preschool and first grade teacher, and while she loved that experience, she has enjoyed the transition from a formal learning environment to an informal one.

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Ryan Cogley - McCarthy Building Companies Inc.

Ryan Cogley

Ryan Cogley

Vice President Project Executive | Age: 35

Ryan Cogley is passionate about the future of the construction industry. Since high school, he knew he wanted to be in construction, though he wasn’t exactly sure of the path to take.

“When I started college, I was pursuing a degree in civil engineering, but after a few years I realized my passion was being out in the field and involved in the day-to-day construction process rather than designing the projects. I switched majors and graduated with a degree in construction engineering technologies,” Cogley said.

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Donald Contursi - Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Donald Contursi

Donald Contursi

President | Age: 36

Donald Contursi can’t cook. But, what he lacks in kitchen know-how, he nails in taste.

It’s a skill he credits to his biggest mentor—his mom. “She was the one who instilled in me an appreciation of good food and caring service,” Contursi said. “As a successful business owner in her own right, she worked long hours but always took the time to bring us all together at dinnertime over one of her wonderful home-cooked meals.”

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Dustin Drai - Drai’s Beachclub, Nightclub and After Hours

Dustin Drai

Dustin Drai

Vice President of Entertainment and Marketing | Age: 26

In college, Dustin Drai threw parties, but they weren’t your typical college parties. He would book talent, market the event and make sure everything went off without a hitch—basically the job he has today, but for fun.

Drai started his career at Drai’s in operations, learning the ins and outs of the business before moving to talent coordinator, then to director of marketing and finally, into his current role as VP of entertainment and marketing.

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