Tribal Program Develops Future Seminole Leaders

By Chris Jenkins

HOLLYWOOD — Ciara Billie-Guerue and Eugenia Osceola are two success stories on a growing list. Both saw an opportunity and are taking advantage of it.

They have joined 16 others and enrolled in an intensive program moving into its fourth year. The Tribal Career Development Program is tailored toward and helping change the lives of Tribal citizens across Hollywood, Immokalee, Brighton, Tampa and other areas.

Program Director Betty J. Goosens is one of the major forces behind its creation and success. With close to a year on the job, Goosens is maintaining confidence in the goals and direction of the program.

“It has created our own experts,” she said. “It opens the door for them to go any direction they want to go.”

The focus of the program is to offer middle management careers to those interested in the Seminole Gaming and Hospitality industry. A blend of on-the-job technical training, specialized classroom training, seminars and workshops are used to prepare and develop them for the future. There are two phases for training.

Phase one is a one to two year initiative involving on-the-job, classroom training, seminars and developmental activities.

Phase two is more intensive and advanced. It is a one year process for those who have completed phase one. Trainees are involved with the business aspect of casino and hotel operations.

In specialized areas, participants will work under the guidance of a manager and within that functional area, complete proposed assignments.

The eligibility required is 18 years of age, a Seminole Tribal member, having a high school diploma or GED and prior work experience. Placement is at one of six locations including: Brighton Casino, Coconut Creek Casino, Hollywood Classic Casino, Immokalee Casino, the Hollywood Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Tampa Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Recruiting for the program is also important and takes place at youth activities, on dividend day, through advertising with The Seminole Tribune and through tours with the education department. It is also moving toward the accreditation process with a time-table of sometime this year.

Goosens explained that the program is individualized and meetings are held monthly to get input allowing for work, schedule, other interests, or changes where needed. That personalized approach has worked well for some including Osceola. She is currently in phase one of the gaming curriculum, but is undecided long term. After spending the last year in the poker program she is branching out into other areas.

“I’m taking my time and I want to learn every aspect from the ground up,” she said.

She is currently working in cash operations learning vault, cash distribution, bank returns and other aspects of its curriculum. Billie-Guerue has also enjoyed the programs flexibility and is currently a management trainee marketing intern.

“I wanted to do hands on experience so that’s why I came over and I figured I could climb the ladder and I could have more opportunities,” she said.

Some of the trainees hard work was recognized on Dec. 20, 2006 at the awards and Christmas program held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Billie-Guerue, Larry Frank and Marlon Tommie were congratulated and honored for their efforts in the program and in the industry. According to Goosens all are prospering well.

Frank is currently the general manager of casino operations in Hollywood. Tommie completed the program and currently works with the senior vice-president of casino operations and helps manage special projects. Billie-Guerue has completed phase one of the program with long term hopes of an upper level management position in marketing. Goosens says proof for the success of the program is definite.

“They are being given the tools to help them succeed in future management positions,” she said. “This program says what it is going to do, and has done it.”

Further growth and opportunities will also be available through a second program created. Its focus is on executive level development. According to Goosens it will offer executive level management careers or succession development, designated toward tribal members in the gaming industry who hold executive positions currently. The program is still in its early stages however and needs approval by Tribal Council.

Those interested in more information on the program can contact Goosens at (954) 797-5459 or visit the Hollywood Office location at the old World Ford Building, now the Seminole Gaming building, at 3101 N. State Road 7.