• Brittney Martino holding student patents
  • Shekinah Hoffman, Special Project Coordinator, International Gaming Institute, and Toni Repetti, Assistant Professor, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at Tahiti Village Vacation Club
  • Group of people posing for photo
  • Woman speaking on stage

Expanding the Leaderverse

The initiative promotes diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, gaming, and tourism industries at the K-12, university, and industry levels. By bridging the gap between university and industry, UNLV IGI aims to also shrink the gender gap that presently exists within the hospitality and gaming industry’s executive representation.

“Opportunities are missed without diversity of thought and opinion in leadership. When women have a seat at the table, our companies are more productive, innovative, and better places to work.”

Jan Jones Blackhurst, IGI’s Chief Executive-in-Residence, former Caesars Entertainment executive and two-term mayor of Las Vegas

K-12 Level (Ages 5 - 18)

At the K-12 level, through partnerships with Clark County School District (CCSD) and Core, powered by The Rogers Foundation, IGI offers two programs designed to empower and encourage under-resourced Las Vegas youth to discover the managerial and executive-level career opportunities available to them in the industry of their backyard: the Young Executive Scholars Hospitality & Tourism Program (YES) and Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI).

People in a theater

Young Executive Scholars (YES)

IGI's Young Executive Scholars (YES) program provides under-resourced youth the chance to discover the opportunities that the hospitality and tourism industry provides and learn how college creates pathways to reach executive-level careers in the industry.

A group of people smiling

Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI)

IGI's Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI) program introduces young women to Southern Nevada’s science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) careers, demystifies success in these fields, and provides an outlet for them to engage with role models and leaders from the community.

University Level

With more developments in the university-level “Expanding the Leaderverse” initiative to come, currently, Becky Harris—IGI’s Distinguished Fellow in Gaming & Leadership and former first-ever chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada senator—continues to work with Dan Sahl on promoting patent production for women and women in innovation through IGI’s Center for Gaming Innovation (CGI).

To date, CGI has six patents and two patents-pending issued to female inventors.

Workforce, Community, and Industry Level

Since 2013, when IGI first partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business and Extended Studies on the Executive Development Program (EDP), diversity amongst attendees and speakers has steadily increased over the years. The 2019 program hit a record-high of female attendees, boasting 24 burgeoning female leaders in gaming from five countries.

Speakers and topics on the EDP agenda included:

  • IGI’s own Becky Harris on Wynn, #metoo, and new regulations addressing sexual harassment;
  • Punam Mathur, executive director of the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation, on women and diversity;
  • A panel discussion with Amy Ayoub (owner/president,The Zen Speaker), Maria Christina Annaloro (director of government relations & social sciences, Sands Corporation), and Becky Harris on sex trafficking;
  • Holly Gagnon, president and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation, on leadership; and
  • Shondra Deloach-Perea on her experiences building IGT's "The Power of We" women's program.

“Never underestimate your power as a citizen advocate.”

Becky Harris, IGI Distinguished Fellow in Gaming & Leadership | EDP 2019

Women in Gaming & Hospitality Executive Development Program Scholarship

New to EDP 2019 is the Women in Gaming & Hospitality Executive Development Program Scholarship, which is awarded to a deserving female leader in gaming and covers the cost of EDP tuition, transportation, and lodging (an approx. $15,000 USD value). This scholarship joins the EDP 2018 addition of the Clarion-ECA-AGEM EDP Scholarship, which offers the same opportunity to a female leader in gaming from an organization belonging to the European Casino Association (ECA).

“EDP was an exhausting and demanding ten days that I honestly wouldn’t have made it through without my working group, or the comradery of my 57 new friends. I am invigorated and excited about the future for gaming with so many great leaders emerging, all of whom I know I can reach out to at any time, as they can to me.”

Hannah Morelos, Director of Gaming, The Star Gold Coast, Australia | Winner of the Inaugural Women in Gaming & Hospitality EDP Scholarship


Underpinning all of IGI’s efforts is research. A duo of researchers, Shekinah Hoffman and Toni Repetti, have dedicated their studies to understanding occupational segregation and gender disparity in the casino/gaming industry. Their study, which is the first study on women in gaming management in more than 20 years, was published in 2018 and is available to read online: “Glass Ceilings & Leaky Pipelines: Gender Disparity in the Casino Industry.”

A follow up to Repetti and Hoffman's “Glass Ceilings & Leaky Pipelines,” entitled “Where Women Stand in Tribal vs. Non-Tribal Gaming Leadership,” was published in 2020 by the same team of researchers; adding to the original study, this paper looks at the gender leadership gap in tribal gaming vs. non-tribal gaming.

Hoffman, who is currently working on her Ph.D. in Sociology, uses her research to take a qualitative look at women in gaming management; through a series of interviews, Hoffman works to understand experiences and challenges in the workplace and factors that may contribute to the women’s leadership gap. This first-of-its-kind research will be submitted for publication in 2020.

Dear Colleagues, Collaborators, and Community Members,

UNLV International Gaming Institute joins the international outcry for social justice, equality under the law, and an end to systemic racism. In our classrooms and in our everyday lives, we vow to listen--to genuinely listen--and to get better as a result. But while listening is an important first step, we also vow to take action by working in a manner that sees, hears, and supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and we ask that we be held accountable to this commitment.

One week, one month, one year from now: we will be better. Here are some of the ways:

  • We will launch a new IGI program that creates pathways and support for minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs), vendors, and startups to benefit from opportunities in the gaming industry.
  • We will diversify pipelines by adding scholarships for BIPOC attendees at our Executive Development Program, and by launching new diversity recruitment programs in our STEAM-related innovation courses at the Center for Gaming Innovation, Hospitality Lab, and Battle Born Girls Innovate.
  • We will increase our BIPOC faculty and leadership numbers, and we will amplify BIPOC voices in front of industry and government audiences across all of the IGI's teaching and research programs.
  • Alongside curricular experts in this field, we will reevaluate all of our syllabi and educational practices to emphasize strong messages of anti-racism, pro-inclusion, intersectionality, and social justice.
  • Finally, we will actively seek to partner with others who share in these commitments.

Thank you in advance for holding us accountable in the fight for social justice.

In solidarity,

UNLV International Gaming Institute

"More than one-third of women report that they have been sexually harassed in the workplace at some point throughout their careers. In my seventy interviews with women across the global industry, and multiple years of study on this issue, I have found sexual harassment, gender harassment, and unwanted sexual attention remains pervasive and normative within the gaming workplace, despite proactive measures taken to combat it. A male-dominated industry paired with a service culture leaves women, particularly young women in front-line positions, incredibly vulnerable and susceptible to harassment from both staff and customers. All too often, women’s stories of harassment and misconduct go untold or unaddressed."

Shekinah Hoffman, IGI Special Project Coordinator and Ph.D. Researcher


In The News

From the News Center

two women at resort property
Oct. 3, 2018

Few women hold executive positions in the hospitality industry. Two UNLV researchers explore the implications.