Essential Women Preserving the Quality of Life


As the CEO & President of Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE) Real Estate Brokerage, Advisor & Investor for AmicusBrain—AI for Aging Population, CSO for ZuluTime, Publisher, Connector and a National Speaker, Desirée Patno’s network and wealth of knowledge crosses a vast economic footprint. With three decades specializing in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem and owning her own successful brokerage, she leads her executive team’s expertise of Social Impact, Gender Equality and Access to Capital, and provides personalized consulting services to the Real Estate and Family Office community.

For the first time in NAWRB history, this sheCENTER(FOLD) features not just one woman but a collage of dynamic “Essential Women” who are impacting the well being of society through these difficult times. After asking our community for submissions, we are incredibly humbled to give center stage to a few of these women leaders, representing a variety of positions and backgrounds, who are helping to ensure the quality of life of countless Americans as we tackle the corona virus (COVID-19) as a united front. These women are having a positive impact on the world, even if their actions are unseen and unheard. NAWRB gives voice to their selfless actions and sheds light on their efforts to show these women that they are being noticed and appreciated.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS, U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, and world-renowned global health official, is the White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, who aids in the government’s response to the global health pandemic.

Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Deborah L. Birx, was appointed to the White House Coronavirus Task Forces as a Coronavirus Response Coordinator to aid in the government’s response to the global health pandemic. Ambassador Birx is an essential figure in the White House’s response to the COVID-19 and attends regular White House briefings.

According to the government website, “Ambassador Birx is a world-renowned medical expert and leader in the field of HIV/AIDS. Her three-decade-long career has focused on HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Birx oversees the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. From 1980 to 1994, Birx served as an active duty reserve officer in the United States Army, and from 1994 to 2008, she achieved the rank of Colonel in the active duty regular Army.
Serving as the U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, she aligns the U.S. Government’s diplomacy with foreign assistance programs that address global health challenges and accelerate progress toward: achieving an AIDS-free generation; ending preventable child and maternal deaths; and preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats.”

For additional information regarding the response to COVID-19, please visit and

Jovita Carranza, SBA Administrator, headed the oversight of the $349 billion in guaranteed loan assistance that was granted by the White House to help small businesses overcome economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to help small businesses in access to capital.

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza is currently serving her second tenure at the SBA as she previously served in the George W. Bush Administration as Deputy Administrator from 2006-2009. The Trump administration nominated Administrator Carranza to lead the SBA while she was serving as the 44th Treasurer of the United States.

Carranza leads the federal agency exclusively dedicated to assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting, growing and expanding their businesses. The SBA also helps residents and businesses by providing no cost, low interest loans in the event of a natural disaster. Currently she heads the oversight of the $379 billion in guaranteed loan assistance that has been granted by the White House to help small businesses overcome economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carranza also announced that the SBA will be granting automatic disaster loan deferments through December 31, 2020, to help borrowers who are still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters. Because the change is automatic, borrowers of home and business disaster loans do not have to contact the agency to request deferment. She also changed the criteria for eligibility to apply for the SBAs Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help more small businesses apply as soon as possible.

“The SBA is looking at every option and taking every action to cut red tape to make it easier for small businesses to stay in business. Automatically deferring existing SBA disaster loans through the end of the year will help borrowers during this unprecedented time,” said Carranza. “Today’s announcement adds a list of growing actions the SBA is taking to support small businesses. These actions include making it easier for states and territories to request a declaration so small businesses statewide can now apply for economic injury disaster loans, and changing the terms of new economic injury loans to allow for one-year deferments.”

U.S. Congress reached a deal on a roughly $480 billion coronavirus relief funding package to continue helping small businesses and hospitals, and expand COVID-19 testing. This new funding package comes after the initial funds set aside for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) were exhausted in just two weeks — due to over 1.66 million loans for more than $342 billion. The Senate has approved the deal, and now it goes to the House.

The deal will authorize the Paycheck Protection Program to spend an additional $310 billion to replace the previous $349 billion that has run dry. Of this money, $60 billion will be set aside for smaller lending facilities, including community financial institutions, small insured depository institutions and credit unions with assets less than $10 billion. Other support for small businesses includes a $10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, $50 billion for disaster recovery loans and $2.1 billion for additional salaries and SBA expenses.

Prior to her role at the SBA, Carranza enjoyed an accomplished career at the United Parcel Service, starting as a part-time, night-shift box handler and eventually becoming the highest ranking Latina in company history, serving as President of Latin America and Caribbean operations. Carranza is the Founder of JCR Group and earned her MBA from the University of Miami.

Carranza’s leadership is pivotal in this time as many small businesses are on the brink of extinction and need as much financial support as they can get to keep their businesses afloat and keep their employees on payroll.

Nicole Cober, Esquire, Principal Managing Partner of Cober Johnson and Romney (CJR), NWBC Council Member, shares her story of her experience receiving hospital treatment for breast cancer surgery during the COVID-19 outbreak. She is educating the public about how changes in policy procedure affected her treatment and will continue to affect her as she continues to battle breast cancer.

Nicole Cober, Esquire, is a successful business owner who was interviewed for NAWRB Magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 3, and who was a distinguished speaker at the 2019 NAWRB Conference, Redefining Leadership. Aside from her professional success, Nicole has shown personal strength in sharing her story of her experience receiving hospital treatment for breast cancer surgery during the COVID-19 outbreak.

She shares how changes in policy procedure affected her treatment and will continue to affect her as she continues to battle breast cancer. For instance, she states that medical professionals who were helping to prep her for surgery were asked to leave the operating room because they did not have face masks. Some of her follow-up treatments will have to be done over the phone or online, which might become problematic if she has any complications. She was also sent home the day of her surgery because the hospital thought she was safer at home, and she was unable to see her doctor post-surgery.

Nicole notes that there are even discussions about eliminating emergency services in hospitals in Washington, DC, because there is a shortage of staff and minimal supplies. Nicole asks us to keep in mind other individuals with breast cancer or other ailments who do not have surgeries scheduled and might experience a delay in care because hospitals are short-staffed and lack supplies. The impact of COVID-19 has larger implications than only coronavirus patients themselves; we will likely see long-lasting effects in hospital treatment and care for all current and future patients in need.

Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your story and enlightening the community about the impact of COVID-19 on a larger scale, and how important it is for hospitals to be given enough supplies, equipment and resources to save lives and maintain the quality of life for countless Americans. Watch Nicole’s video here:



Kim Scherer, Senior Manager of Local Public Affairs at Southern California Edison, led the company’s transition during the coronavirus, is helping employees adjust, and serves as a Liaison Officer to Government Representatives.

I would like to recommend Kim Scherer, a Senior Manager, Local Public Affairs. She has been a steady and incredible woman working behind the scenes in the coronavirus response at Southern California Edison. SCE provides an essential service: electricity. It’s not out front and center in the public consciousness until the lights go out and the power is not working. It takes a lot of work to ensure the power is safely on and reliable constantly.

Since the beginning of March as the coronavirus pandemic was declared, Kim stepped up to work beyond the normal work day, seven days a week to ensure SCE employees transitioned safely to a teleworking situation while still providing an essential service. She reported everyday in the Emergency Operations Center at 7 AM and would come home late into the evening.

She served as a liaison officer to key local government and agency representatives, informed company decision making on essential work and philanthropy contributions for local food banks, and advocated for the company’s number one priority in keeping employees and customers safe. Kim stepped up when so many of us couldn’t as we struggled to manage work, homeschooling, caretaking, illness, etc. She did not hesitate to answer the call of duty.

Kim just celebrated her wedding anniversary and we all had to “force” her to unplug for one day but she was right back to work the next day – a Saturday. On so many accounts, Kim Scherer is definitely an incredible woman but often an unsung hero.


Suzanne Miller, President, Empire State Properties, President of Empire State Properties, organized a fundraiser through GoFundMe to help raise money to provide food for New York’s physicians and staff who are at the front lines of the COVID-19.

Suzanne Miller, organized a fundraiser through GoFundMe to help raise money to provide food for New York’s physicians and staff who are at the front lines of the COVID-19, treating countless patients of this novel virus. She wrote the letter below regarding the mission of her fundraiser and why it’s important that we give back to our healthcare community during these trying times:

“Right now the world is going through an unprecedented situation that no one could have imagined. What started an ocean away has spread globally, and New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States. Our hospitals are stretched to their limits, and our frontline physicians are working harder than ever before, away from their own families and loved ones for days at a time.

Empire State Properties is a New York City-born and -based company, and we are dedicated to serving our local community. Now, more than ever, we want to do anything we can to help our physicians. My passion for helping the medical community stems from my late husband, a New York City family doctor who passed away shortly after 9/11. I understand what these medical professionals are going through, and now it’s time to do our part.

At NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Hospital and others, cafeteria operations have been significantly reduced to maximize the safety of employees, and there is little food available to the physicians overnight.

Together we can help ensure NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Hospital and others have enough meals to feed their frontline physicians while they are on duty so they can continue to work day and night and have one less thing to worry about. The idea was born when we heard from the surgery doctors at Columbia University Hospital, and our goal is to start with this hospital then expand our efforts to feed as many hospitals across the city as possible, all shifts, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Help us make this happen.

We have set up a Go Fund Me page to make donating easy. No amount is too small … or too big! Every dollar counts. We will make sure all monies raised go directly to benefitting the frontline heroes and we are withdrawing the funds to purchase meals from local restaurants and providing them with necessary supplies.

As we navigate these uncharted waters, we can all do our part no matter how small to get through this and come out on the other side a more compassionate and caring community.”

At time of writing, Suzanne’s fundraiser has raised nearly $15,000 of her $50,000 goal. Help provide food for New York’s physicians and staff here:



Dr. Thyonne Gordon, is a storyteller and curator who helps build strategies for business owners and corporate teams, and supports countless youth with scholarships and mentorships. Her business Beyond Story helps people go beyond their story to living their best lives.

When thinking of incredible women, we look to doctors, lawyers and scientists to tell their stories. Today, I will introduce an incredible woman who tells those stories. She’s a gifted storyteller and curator who helps build strategies for business owners and corporate teams. Dr. Thyonne Gordon created her business Beyond Story to help people go beyond their story to living their best lives. She does ghostwriting, grant writing, curricula development and training, and recently launched a FB Live to help Shift Your Crisis Story. She does this every morning at 9:19 AM (symbolic of the number 19 in COVID) and has given a new acronym perspective using Coming Out Victoriously Illuminating Ideas Daily, to inspire watchers.

Dr. Thyonne’s business relies on in-person training and development and her largest client is healthcare—leaving her dead in the water right now. She inspires others to create business opportunities. When the stimulus package was released she encouraged people to apply. Many felt intimidated by the process so she began applying for them. Now she is writing everyday to support those needing help. She’s also encouraging everyone to write their stories. “More than ever before, this is the time to write so the next generation knows what we’re made of and how we survived,” she shared in one of her talks.

There is much more about Dr. Thyonne that makes her incredible—running successful nonprofit organizations; supporting countless youth with scholarships and mentorships; leading successful boards and excelling in board governance; and the volunteer coaching she does with nonprofit Executive Directors. But what I know for sure is, her story technique uniquely impacts every life she touches. She is a woman who has touched my heart and I nominate her so that she can touch yours and your readers.


Hyepin Im, is the Founder of Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE), a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counseling agency whose mission is to advance the Asian American community’s participation, contribution, and influence through faith-based and community partnerships and is hosting a series of webinars to help people and small businesses through the global health pandemic.

FACE is hosting a series of webinars to help people and small businesses through the global health pandemic. This month, Hyepin Im is hosting a webinar with Terri L. Billups, U.S. SBA Assistant District Director, Economic Development, on COVID-19 Federal Assistance & Loan Forgiveness Programs for Churches and Nonprofits. FACE made the following announcement about their webinar: “We are pleased to share this special opportunity to hear the latest updates from US Small Business Administration on their federal assistance programs in response to the Coronavirus pandemic including their loan forgiveness programs (ie; Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program). Churches and nonprofits can also apply for these programs and qualified applicants can have their loans forgiven and not have to pay back for qualified items up to certain limits.”

FACE serves as a light and bridge between the Asian American community and the greater community at large by connecting and creating private and public collaboration, maximizing the capacities of faith-based organizations and other community non-profits, increasing access to resources and funds, and assisting low-income individuals and revitalizing neighborhoods.

To date, FACE has educated over 9,000 prospective homeowners. FACE’s efforts have resulted in providing homeowners with over $1.4 million in down payment assistance and exemplary efforts have earned numerous recognition including the prestigious Hope Award from the National Association of Realtors as well as Homefree-USA’s President’s Award.

Last year, ABC Channel 7 news recognized Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE) as they shared the story of FACE Homebuyer Education Client Vicente Cain Rivera and his journey of becoming a homeowner at age 22. With an income less than $34K, Rivera was only able to put $2,900 in down payment, but FACE helped him with $105,000 down payment! Congratulations to FACE for the deserved recognition of their hard work helping low-income communities achieve the American Dream of homeownership!



Brateil Aghasi is the Executive Director of WISEPlace, that is participating in the annual Help Them Home fundraiser to help the homeless during the global health pandemic. Help them Home is a 24 hour online fundraiser for the homeless of Orange County. With 17 other organizations, they are planning to raise $700,000 for those experiencing homelessness.

Brateil Aghasi, CEO of WISEPlace, helps unaccompanied women with no children or spouse. WISEPlace serves homeless women between the ages of 18 and 94, but 60 percent of the homeless women they serve are over 60 years old. WISEPlace served 321 women in 2019 – the highest number of lives positively impacted in their organization’s history – bringing their total to more than 8,100 women since 1924.

Fifty-eight percent of the women they serve are domestic violence survivors and 41 percent are disabled. WISEPlace provides transitional services to survivors of domestic violence for 4-6 month. The organization was able to triple the number of women they support by tapping into federal dollars and taking advantage of contracts that people don’t know much about.

In April 22, 2020, WISEPlace is participating in the annual Help Them Home fundraiser to help the homeless during the global health pandemic. Help them Home is a 24 hour online fundraiser for the homeless of Orange County. With 17 other organizations, they are planning to raise $700,000 for those experiencing homelessness. WISEPlace’s own goal is to raise $40,000. Every dollar counts and goes directly to programs serving participants and keeping everyone safe and healthy through COVID-19. Donate here:



Je’net Kreitner, is CEO/Founder of Grandma’s House of Hope, committed to improving the quality of life for Orange County’s most vulnerable, underserved and socio-economically disadvantaged community members by providing housing, food and trauma-informed supportive services.

Three months ago, no one knew that the COVID-19 virus existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, emptied public spaces and filled hospitals. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends. It has ultimately disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Hence, it has demanded many leaders to make time sensitive decisions they have never had to make before.

Grandma’s House of Hope (GHH) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life for Orange County’s most vulnerable, underserved and socio-economically disadvantaged community members by providing housing, food and trauma-informed supportive services. GHH’s mission is to Empower the Invisible Populations of Orange County by targeting those who truly slip between the cracks of other programs. The Founder of Grandma’s House of Hope has led her team with grace, empathy, and most importantly competence. With her staff being a part of the essential workforce and her clients being that of the most vulnerable to the virus, every decision made a huge impact on the organization.

Being a past victim of homelessness and now an advocate for the homeless, this pandemic has hit home for Je’net Kreitner. She has spent sleepless nights and her own resources to ensure that every staff member was safe and taken care of, mentally. She has ensured that all participants in her shelters were given the proper care, communication, and materials needed to keep them safe. In result, no COVID-19 cases have been reported from our programs.

It takes a woman with courage to lead during this time of need so we would like to nominate Je’net Kreitner, an Incredible Woman Preserving the Quality of Life During COVID-19.


Amy Lee Caimano, Licensed Sales Agent of Hilton Head Real Estate Partners, works with non-profits, shelters and local community members to help the underserved gain access to items they need, from appliances, furniture and bikes, to small everyday personal necessity items.

In 2012, I was fortunate to move to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was a dream come true for me, living near the beach on a beautiful, sunny Island. When my twins started high school at the local public high school I wanted to get involved. I was lucky enough to be able to assist with a program that the high school itself had in place for students & their families struggling with homelessness, illness, death of a parent or guardian, financial or other crisis situations. I quickly learned that our beautiful Island had a huge diversity of income & financial situations.

Since 2018 I have focused on helping out those less fortunate in our community by helping them gain access to items they need from appliances, furniture, bikes, to small everyday personal necessity items. I have worked in conjunction with our vast array of non-profit organizations, churches, social clubs, shelters, & local community members to get these items to the families. I have also become aware that we have a very giving community here, whether I am arranging collections of shoes, clothes or toiletry items, or reaching out for an urgent need, Hilton Head Island’s people have always come through for me!

This year in 2020, I have been accepted to be on the Board of The Sandalwood Community Pantry, a non-profit pantry that has been running for over 11 years, I am able to donate my time & talents to this amazing cause.

Giving back to my local community not only keeps me in touch with community members that I would not normally know, it also helps our small Island community stay strong and healthy. As a Realtor in my community, it is important to me that people see me as a neighbor that gives back and helps those in need.



Dr. Kami J. Anderson, Founder/Executive Director of Bilingual Brown Babies, helps bilingual children develop their multilingual capacities, and has developed a homeschooling curriculum for parents.

In the midst of these epic times, I am still trying to show up for homeschooling mothers—now the newly established homeschooling mothers —by offering language services that will not only push families to bilingualism but also bring families closer together through family communication in theory and practice. Mothers need their kids to “leave them alone for a minute” so they can work, but in ways that are enriching and fulfilling and not just “plopping them in front of a TV.” As a #blackbilingualmama who has not only Spanish teaching expertise, but also expertise in the ways in which Black children specifically get what they need for language, I have homeschooling curriculum as well as kid-friendly videos on my private network for children to enjoy and learn from.

We are now in a new normal. We have the stability of a job that transitioned easily into remote work, but we have never had to work with our children in the background like we are now. Our children’s teachers have given us digital resources, but we find that it’s just maintaining and not pushing them the way we want them to be pushed. We have all the math, science and ELA we need for our child because between us and our girlfriends, we are swapping resources, but none of us speak a foreign language enough to know what to do with it that will help our kids. We aren’t all that cool with just throwing our child in front of technology, but we know that a few minutes of enriching stuff will never hurt anyone.

So, I got creative. I not only began promoting my homeschool curriculum in a way that would appeal to my new homeschooling mothers, but I created a program that will allow mothers to get quality language videos for their children to get Spanish basics, vocabulary and conversational skills that will be long lasting and memorable. I am also posting virtual museum tours for museums in Spanish speaking countries so that kids can watch my own children’s experience.



Briana Aamodt-Kuenz, is taking on the role of teacher for her children as well as mother now that parents are having to administer their children’s education. In addition to homeschooling, Brianna is responsible for the care of elder family members.

Briana lives in Neenah, Wisconsin, with her five children, and her husband is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Briana was nominated by her mother, NAWRB Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC) Member Kellie Aamodt, Board Member of Marine Research and Exploration (MARE) and Retired UPS Vice President of Corporate Inside Sales. As Kellie states, Briana is one of many mothers who “are stepping up and homeschooling their children, dealing with elder care, ensuring the households stay together in tough financial times, and keeping the family safe. So many women have had to shuffle their daily activities quickly to handle this ‘new normal.’”



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