Third-year University of Arizona Law student Francisco (Frank) Olea will soon earn his JD, and the next letters he adds to his resume after that could be CEO.
Olea is one of five members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe participating in the Executive Succession Program at the Casino Del Sol Resort. At the conclusion of the two-year program, one of the five candidates will be selected as CEO of the Casino Del Sol Resort, while other candidates may potentially fill executive management positions within the organization. The Casino Del Sol Resort has more than 1,600 employees and includes several business entities including the Casino Del Sol, Casino of the Sun, Casino Del Sol Resort, Sewailo Golf Club, AVA Amphitheater, and the Del Sol Marketplace.
The Tribal Succession Program includes mentorship with current Casino Del Sol CEO and Arizona Law alumna Kimberly Van Amburg and other executive leaders, university-level coursework, and participation in an exchange program where participants visit other tribal gaming properties throughout the U.S. to learn different management approaches and best practices.
"I am so excited to be able to assist the tribe in preparing and selecting a tribal member or members to enter into executive level management positions,” says current Casino Del Sol CEO Kimberly Van Amburg. “The fact that we have five highly qualified, motivated, and experienced tribal members participating makes this program very exciting, and I am thankful to be a part of it."
As a participant in the program, Olea is further developing his management and leadership skills. Prior to entering law school, he was deputy chief for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Gaming Office, and most recently spent a summer in Washington, D.C., at the National Indian Gaming Commission. Olea’s 16 years of experience in gaming, as well as his legal education at Arizona Law’s Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, positions him to take on a leadership role within the resort. He says he looks forward to further developing his knowledge of the gaming industry as a participant in the program.
“It’s been a long, arduous road going to school and working, but I’m glad I stayed connected to the industry and worked very hard to earn an opportunity like this,” says Olea. He emphasizes that, “This enterprise is a cornerstone of our tribal economic development, but more than that, it transcends the reservation and extends to the surrounding community. There is a direct and positive impact in the way Casino Del Sol drives local economic development, from the local vendors we work with, to the jobs created for both tribal and non-tribal members. This program is an excellent opportunity for our tribe to exercise its autonomy and take another step toward self-sufficiency.”