Boyd Gaming has a long history of providing opportunities to women in the gaming industry. From being one of the first casino operators to hire women as dealers to employing a body of team members made up of more than 50% women, Boyd Gaming continues to create opportunities for women to advance their careers.
After several years of going above and beyond their duties, Mary Ann Burns, Lori Nelson and Cassie Stratford, three well-deserving Boyd Gaming team members, were each promoted to Vice Presidents over the last several weeks.
While attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Mary Ann Burns worked at the front desk of a Las Vegas Strip casino, which sparked her passion for hospitality. Burns went on to become one of the first female hotel managers in Las Vegas.
“I have come a long way in my 29 years of working at Boyd Gaming, thanks to the faith and support I’ve received from our leadership and the hard working team members I work with,” said Burns. “Women have ample opportunity to move up in their careers with Boyd Gaming and I am living proof of that.”
Burns was promoted to Vice President of Hotel Operations in January after serving as the Director of Hotel Operations for The Orleans Hotel and Casino, since 2006.
Burns is not the only woman climbing the ladder within the Company: Lori Nelson was promoted to Vice President of Financial Operations in early February.
Nelson began her career working for a large accounting firm where she had gaming clients, including Peninsula Gaming, which was acquired by Boyd Gaming in 2012. After leaving public accounting, Nelson transitioned to work for Peninsula Gaming as a Director of Finance.
“I originally never intended to pursue a career in gaming,” said Nelson. “However, I quickly came to love the fast-paced casino environment and never looked back.”
Nelson successfully opened Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa in 2006, when it was still owned by Peninsula Gaming, and managed financial reporting out of the Dubuque office prior to Boyd Gaming’s acquisition of the Peninsula Gaming properties. Shortly after the acquisition, Nelson moved into a role with oversight of all finance activities for the former Peninsula Gaming properties. Nelson is currently working to standardize the Company’s Finance Shared Service Center to create a more efficient and effective business model in her new role.
“I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had at Boyd Gaming because they’ve helped me grow and develop the skills I needed to advance in my career,” Nelson said. “If I wasn’t faced with challenging projects that pushed me to learn and get out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Rounding out the recent group of promotions, Cassie Stratford was named Vice President of Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel after working for Boyd Gaming’s legal department for five years.
“I enjoy the challenges that come with providing legal support in a dynamic business where the areas of laws that impact us are endless. I wouldn’t get the same degree of variety in any other industry,” said Stratford. “It is because of the mentorship I have received through the Company that I have developed my knowledge of the industry and expanded my professional network.”
Outside of work, Stratford uses her skills and knowledge to volunteer for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, where she provides pro-bono legal advice to community members in need. Additionally, Stratford volunteers for her alma maters, William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV and Georgetown University, to mentor the next wave of lawyers and interview candidates for admission to the university. Stratford stresses one of the keys to success is to never stop learning.
“Learn everything you can about the business you’re in because having some level of understanding and appreciation for every aspect of that business will allow you to make more meaningful contributions,” Stratford said.
And Burns believes that the hospitality industry is opening up more doors for women to move up to senior level positions.
“The hospitality industry is both exciting and challenging,” Burns said. “If you like problem-solving and working with people, I encourage you to explore what this industry has to offer.”
Nelson shared some advice on how others could follow in the footsteps of Boyd Gaming’s three newest Vice Presidents.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks, be confident in yourself, work hard and value the relationships you have with everyone you work with,” Nelson said. “You may not have all the answers and new projects can be intimidating, but through hard work and dedication, you can succeed.”