Jones Blackhurst Joins UNLV Gaming Institute

Former Caesars Entertainment executive and onetime Vegas mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst (l.) will lead a new initiative at UNLV’s highly regarded management incubator. The program is aimed at increasing diversity in the executive ranks of the gaming and hospitality industries.

Jones Blackhurst Joins UNLV Gaming Institute

Former Caesars Entertainment executive Jan Jones Blackhurst is joining the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ (UNLV) International Gaming Institute as “chief executive in residence.”

In her new role, she will expand the institute’s executive development program, a highly regarded training ground for future industry professionals. It’s part of an initiative aimed at promoting diversity and inclusiveness within the executive ranks of gaming and hospitality.

“A growing body of research now shows that more inclusive leadership teams are more successful,” said Jones Blackhurst, a former two-term mayor of Las Vegas who was the first woman to hold that office. “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.”

She’s been involved in the initiative since its start, lobbying then UNLV President Don Snyder for his support, and helping win backing from the Nevada legislature, which set aside $500,000 for the effort.

Jones Blackhurst resigned as Caesars’ executive vice president of government relations and corporate social responsibility at the end of last summer, ending a 20-year career with the Las Vegas-based casino giant in which she was highly regarded as a champion of social responsibility.

Caesars, meanwhile, has agreed to a $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts, and Jones Blackhurst will have a seat on the combined companies’ new board of directors when the merger is finalized this year.

At IGI, she will join members of what the institute calls its “Expanding the Leaderverse” team. They include: Becky Harris, the first female chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board; Shekinah Hoffman, project leader on IGI’s Young Executive Scholars (YES) and Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI) initiatives; Jennifer Shatley, a longtime Caesars government relations executive; and Itzel Alanis, who heads operations for YES and BBGI.

“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,” said IGI Executive Director Bo Bernhard.

Jones Blackhurst was mayor of Las Vegas from 1991 to 1999. In 1998, she was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor of Nevada, losing in the general election to Republican Kenny Guinn.

She was elected to the American Gaming Association Gaming Hall of Fame in 2014, and also serves on numerous national boards, including the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the Global Fairness Initiative.