A Woman For All Seasons

Marla Letizia, Board Chair of Jewish Nevada

By Lynn Wexler

There are many different seasons in a life. Marla Letizia seems to have embraced – and grown wiser from – them all. And it wasn’t always easy.

A fourth-generation Las Vegan, Letizia is by all accounts accomplished…in business, as well as with family, community, giving and faith…all integral pillars upon which her life’s journey rests.

“The quote by Sheldon Kopp [“You only get to keep what you give away”], for me, sums it up best. When the going gets tough, I’ve learned that giving – whenever and in whatever capacity you can – returns one’s investment exponentially, sometimes in kind but always in spiritual and positive energy, enabling clarity and renewed ability to continue forward,” Letizia shares.

The quote also inspires introspection. “The meaning in the quote taught me to take responsibility for whatever is lacking or causing distress in my life,” continues Letizia. “For example, if I feel like I’m not getting enough respect, it means I need to give more respect. We all, in fact, own our feelings and circumstances and can improve those things by becoming the author of those behaviors in turn.”

Letizia’s bio puts her on a who’s who list of Las Vegas achievers. With over 35 years of marketing and journalism experience, she began her career at KLAS–TV8, working as the first woman in Las Vegas history to direct live television news broadcasts. She then anchored the top-rated 11 p.m. news broadcast at KTNV-TV13, where she also created and hosted a 30-minute morning talk show.

As a business innovator, Letizia created the Las Vegas Mobile Billboard Industry in 2001, later joining with Big Traffic, LLC, a Southern Nevada based advertising and media firm offering creative advertising solutions, production, media buys and opportunities.

Together with her husband Tom, Letizia has also owned and operated radio and TV outlets throughout Nevada and New Mexico. This partnership, and longtime marriage, is one of the things Letizia is most proud of. The pride also extends to her “retirement from the limelight, between 1981 and 2001, to raise our now grown children, Russell and Harmony.”

“I’m also proud of the positive energy I bring to all I endeavor, including the ways in which I have handled the lowest lows of my life,” says Letizia.

Letizia was one of the first women to earn a Stevie Award for Women in Business; is a founding member of the board of trustees of The Meadows School; and has served on the advisory board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada.

She and Tom were recognized by Senator Harry Reid as recipients of the Congregation Ner Tamid Menschen of the Year award, reflecting the ultimate value of giving selflessly to benefit the community.

“When a solid organization finds you worthy of honoring, graciously smile, say ‘thank you’, enjoy all it has to offer, and then find ways to give back!” says Letizia.

And give back she does…repeatedly. One of her passions is supporting and growing the Las Vegas Jewish community. As the Board Chair of Jewish Nevada, she is dedicated to strengthening community ties and connections, as well as raising money for the many programs offered by Jewish Nevada that aim to help all factions of the Jewish and non-Jewish community.

“It brings tears to my eyes to witness so many who struggle in our community. It’s up to all of us to give ‘til it hurts, as the saying goes, to help others,” says Letizia. “Jewish Nevada’s Social Services Agency helps so many by making up for what government agencies cannot or fail to do. This is only made possible by people reaching into their hearts and giving - any amount at all - to support Jewish Nevada. It’s about participation. Participation connects us to each other and is the foundation of philanthropy.”

Letizia, together with other Jewish Nevada board members, is also working to navigate the agency’s mission to become a world class, 21st century, modern Jewish community that the rest of the world will want to emulate.

“We’re a diaspora within a diaspora here in Las Vegas. We don’t have Jewish neighborhoods like the established communities back east, where communication travels easily mouth to mouth,” states Letizia. “Our work to unite all sectors of our community is ongoing. We’re developing an app to connect each of us to each other regarding security, news and event info.”

Each season of life brings with it limitations and opportunities; hardships and triumphs. For Letizia, it’s wisdom gained from tribulation, honest retrospection, and, above all, giving, that opens her eyes to seeing how uniquely precious each life’s journey is, and the joy realized by investing in appreciation, gratitude, and faith.

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