Holly Gagnon, CEO of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ Chumash Enterprises, was honored Tuesday as Executive of the Year by the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA). The Phoenix-based nonprofit, dedicated to improving tribal business management, awarded Gagnon at its 34th annual conference at Phoenix’s Gila River Indian Community’s Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.
“Gagnon has consistently led gaming enterprises to success by increasing margins, stabilizing finances, and recruiting experienced and respected executive teams,” said NAFOA in a prepared statement. Led by Gagnon, Chumash Enterprises owns and operates Chumash Casino Resort, Hotel Corque, Root 246, and various other properties in Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley.
Prior to her work at Chumash Enterprises, Gagnon served as President and CEO of Pearl River Resort, owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. In the community, Gagnon chairs the mentorship committee and is a founding board member of Global Gaming Women. She also helped launch a mentor program for Native American high school-aged girls.
“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,” Gagnon said in a press release. “I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some great people in my career, so this award honors their efforts as well.”