By Chuck Slothower
Four Corners Business Journal
FARMINGTON The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise on Oct. 25 announced a leadership transition.
CEO Bob Winter will resign effective Jan. 1. Chief Financial Officer Derrick Watchman will be named CEO by the Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors at that point, the Gaming Enterprise said in a news release.
Winter, who has served as CEO since May 2007, decided to step down as chief executive to concentrate on completing the development and opening of the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort near Flagstaff, Ariz., the Gaming Enterprise said.
The board has asked Winter to remain and work on preparation for the Pinta Road Casino and Travel Center as well as other potential developments on behalf of the NNGE.
Watchman, who is Navajo, will succeed Winter.
"I have had the privilege to work for an extraordinary board of directors, as well as with caring and committed Enterprise staff and casino employees during my time with
In June, after three years of casino operations, the NNGE Board of Directors authorized the Enterprise's first distribution of gaming profits to the Navajo Nation Gaming Distribution Fund. The first distribution to the Navajo Nation was $5 million. Future distributions are expected to grow.
"I learned a great deal from Bob Winter and I am looking forward to applying what I have learned as we continue to grow and strengthen our partnership with the Navajo Nation," Watchman said.
"Of course, any good organization is only as good as its employees and I happen to believe we have the finest and most dedicated employees around," he said. "Furthermore, I am very positive about NNGE's future and I am especially excited about the opening of our flagship property, Twin Arrows a unique destination that the Navajo Nation can be proud of."
The Gaming Enterprise is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Navajo Nation created in September 2006. The Gaming Enterprise opened its first casino, Fire Rock Navajo Casino near Gallup, on Nov. 19, 2008.
Flowing Water Navajo Casino near Shiprock opened on Oct. 13, 2010. Northern Edge Navajo Casino near Farmington opened on Jan. 16, 2012.
The Gaming Enterprise plans to open the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort in summer 2013 within the Leupp Chapter near Flagstaff, Ariz.
"Bob successfully promoted NNGE's mission to develop a Navajo gaming economy," said Quincy Natay, board chairman of the Gaming Enterprise. "Under his leadership NNGE provided thousands of Navajo people with jobs, competitive wages, and the ability to provide for their families,"
Natay added, "Derrick's commitment to the success of the Enterprise is evident and we have great confidence that he will continue making a difference in the lives of the Navajo people. We are excited about NNGE's future with Derrick as our CEO."