The Native American Finance Officers Association recently presented Holly Gagnon, the CEO of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ Chumash Enterprises, with its Executive of the Year Award during NAFOA’s 34th annual conference at Gila River Indian Community’s Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.
In a ceremony held Tuesday, Gagnon was honored alongside other leaders for their achievements in tribal communities. Ernie Stensgar, the Vice Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, received the prestigious Tribal Leader of the Year Award, the Navajo Nation won the Deal of the Year Award, the Kiwi Café was this year’s recipient of the Education Program of the Year Award, and Gagnon won the Executive of the Year Award.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized by an organization like NAFOA. Awards like these are given to individuals, but we all know that it takes talented team members and a collaborative effort to truly achieve success. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some great people throughout my career, so this award honors their efforts as well,” Gagnon said.
“Over her 20-year career, Gagnon has consistently led gaming enterprises to success by increasing margins, stabilizing finances, and recruiting experienced and respected executive teams. NAFOA is honored to recognize Gagnon not only for her proven leadership but also her work in the community. She is a founding board member of Global Gaming Women, where she chairs the mentorship committee. She has also been instrumental in helping to launch a mentoring program for Native American high school-aged girls,” NAFOA said in their statement regarding Gagnon’s award.
Prior to joining Chumash Enterprises in September 2015, Gagnon served as the President and CEO of Pearl River Resort, which is owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is located in Santa Barbara County, California. The tribe owns and operates the popular Chumash Casino Resort on its reservation and also owns two hotels and a restaurant in the nearby town of Solvang – Hotel Corque, Hadsten House and Root 246 – as well as two gas stations in Santa Ynez.