Jan Jones Blackhurst headshot
Jan. 7, 2020


LAS VEGAS -- January 7, 2020 -- Jan Jones Blackhurst was recently named Chief Executive in Residence at UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI). Across a decades-long career, Jones Blackhurst has worked in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, serving as an advocate for women in leadership and workplace diversity. Before beginning her time at IGI, Jones Blackhurst worked for 20+ years in executive leadership roles on the Las Vegas Strip—most notably as Caesars Entertainment’s executive vice president of  government relations & corporate social responsibility. Prior to this, she served for two terms as Las Vegas’ first female mayor.

Jones Blackhurst now turns her attention to the academic sector, where she believes that the university's powerful voice and research-backed efforts can change cultures across the global gaming and hospitality industry. Since 2015, she has worked with UNLV IGI on the “Expanding the Leaderverse” initiative—an academic center of excellence which promotes diversity and inclusiveness at the highest levels of leadership in the gaming and hospitality industry. Jones Blackhurst joins several other full-time team members of IGI’s Expanding the Leaderverse team, including: Becky Harris, Nevada's first female Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and current IGI Distinguished Fellow in Gaming and Leadership, Shekinah Hoffman, project lead on IGI’s Young Executive Scholars (YES) and Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI) initiatives, Jennifer Shatley, longtime Caesars government relations executive, and YES and BBGI operations lead, Itzel Alanis.

Jones Blackhurst has long served as a popular faculty member at IGI’s Executive Development Program—a leadership academy for industry professionals. Her teaching at EDP inspired the launch of  IGT’s The Power of We program and the creation of two new industry-funded EDP scholarships for women in gaming (Clarion-ECA-AGEM EDP Scholarship and the Women in Gaming & Hospitality Australasia EDP Scholarship). The 2019 edition of EDP hit a record-high number of female attendees and faculty members.

This past spring, Jones Blackhurst’s work alongside the IGI’s Expanding the Leaderverse team led to the female-majority Nevada State Legislature declaring this initiative to be a priority, and setting aside funding to further support IGI’s efforts.

“A few years ago, I approached then-UNLV President Don Snyder with an idea to launch the world’s first academic initiative dedicated to women and gaming issues,” Jones Blackhurst said, “Today, we have already achieved so much, but we are not yet satisfied. A growing body of research now shows that more inclusive leadership teams are more successful. Moving forward, we will change the culture of women in leadership, and we will not stop until this industry becomes a beacon for others to study.”

IGI Executive Director Bo Bernhard notes that, “IGI has a long history of supporting women in gaming leadership, and my predecessor, Patty Becker, launched the famed Global Gaming Women program during her time here. While we are proud of all that we do, the Expanding the Leaderverse campaign is our most important initiative, and IGI’s 38 team members join me in welcoming Jan to ‘lead our leaderverse’ into a more inclusive 21st century.”

About UNLV IGI’s “Expanding the Leaderverse”

IGI’s “Expanding the Leaderverse” initiative promotes diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, gaming, and tourism industries at the K-12 (ages 5 -18), university, community and workforce levels. Through community outreach programs like Young Executive Scholars (YES) and Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI), academic research, and executive education, IGI bridges the gap between university and industry—simultaneously shrinking the gender gap that presently exists within the hospitality and gaming industry’s executive representation. Learn more at https://www.unlv.edu/igi/leaderverse.

About UNLV International Gaming Institute

For more than 25 years, UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI) has provided research-based solutions, cutting-edge insights, and executive education to the global gaming industry. With expertise in areas like gaming and hospitality innovation, regulation and policy, esports, diversity, and responsible gambling, IGI has been called upon to provide its research to more than 50 jurisdictions across the globe. In addition to these offerings, IGI proudly emphasizes diversity, inclusion, and community relations through initiatives like the Young Executive Scholars Hospitality & Tourism Program (YES) Program and Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI), which both give high schoolers a behind-the-scenes look at the career and educational opportunities that the hospitality industry provides, and the Executive Development Program (EDP). For more information, please visit www.unlv.edu/igi.

Media Inquiries

Nicole Schultz

UNLV International Gaming Institute