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Introducing the VEGAS INC 2017 40 Under 40 honorees

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Sun, Mar 19, 2017 (2 a.m.)

With a magic combination of smarts, skill, compassion and commitment to community, the honorees of our annual 40 Under 40 publication represent the best that Southern Nevada has to show the world, and VEGAS INC is proud to share their stories with you.

In our 17th annual publication, we’re recognizing 40 men and women from a cross section of industries in the valley who have one thing in common — they’re making Las Vegas is a better place.

As has been happening since 2001, nominations for the honor poured in. We assessed each candidate’s community service, entrepreneurial spirit and impact on their respective industry.

Another commonality is that our honorees possess an outlook that helps showcase Southern Nevada in the best light possible. Laiyla Bass, marketing manager for IKEA, has made it a goal to find ways that her company can be a community partner by addressing issues such as children’s education and homelessness.

Humility is another important ingredient. “You may not be the smartest, most talented person in the room, but not being afraid to put in a good day’s work, coupled with a willingness to learn and better oneself, will level the playing field,” said Latoya Bembry, director of public relations at the Ferraro Group.

Take the time to read about these young leaders and their amazing accomplishments. This distinguished group plays a crucial role in Southern Nevada’s business development vision, all in their own special way.

And last but certainly not least, a special thank you goes to Green Valley Ranch Resort for hosting the soiree where we honor these leaders and innovators.

•••

Aga Abram

Director, Brand Marketing and Entertainment Marketing

Wynn Las Vegas and Encore

■ Age: 35

Aga Abram

Aga Abram

Colleagues of Aga Abram admire her ability to get the job done in a professional manner. Despite working in a high-stress environment, she is known for staying calm, collected and collegial.

Abram completed her executive masters of business administration at UNLV in 2011 and has risen through the ranks at Wynn.

As director of brand marketing, Abram is responsible for curating the image of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. She has been described as having “an amazing eye,” which can be seen in the styling of the photography and overall look of the resort's marketing campaigns.

Abram was instrumental in the opening of the Wynn Palace in Macau. As part of the support team that traveled there, she successfully managed the production of two photography crews and a videography crew simultaneously, a feat of organization, flexibility and endurance. Working extremely long hours for 30 straight days, she ensured the imagery was ready for the opening.

Abram insists on always moving forward. “I do not want to be stagnant. I want to keep growing and challenging myself, both on a personal and a professional level.” She is planning to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu this year, which, she said, “will be a good way to push myself out of my comfort zone on many different levels.”

As for her career, she will focus on learning and mastering new skills. “I believe it is important to keep challenging yourself, since the world doesn’t stop.”

Indeed, her advice to colleagues is to “keep challenging yourself and set up well-defined goals that you work to achieve. The main point is that by setting and pursuing pre-set goals, you will be forced to develop as a person. In addition, don’t get down. Work and life will throw you challenges, and it’s important to keep pushing.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Brian Affronti

Managing Partner

Drai's Enterprises

■ Age: 36

Brian Affronti

Brian Affronti

Florida native Brian Affronti, who moved to Las Vegas in 2001, found his professional niche in the nightlife business quite by accident.

“When I first moved to town, I didn’t know anybody but my sister, so I started going out after work with her and her friends and meeting people in the nightclub industry,” said Affronti, who was tapped to help open OPM Nightclub in 2003. “The general manager called and asked me if I wanted to give nightlife a shot, and I found my calling. It was a fantastic time for nightlife in Las Vegas, when nightclubs were really elevating to the next level.”

After wetting his beak at OPM, Affronti went on to work at Wynn Las Vegas, where he was general manager of nightlife operations for Tryst and XS from 2005 to 2012, working for several of those years alongside nightclub owner and film producer Victor Drai. In 2012, Affronti was recruited as managing partner with Drai’s Enterprises, playing an integral role in the launch of Drai’s Rooftop — comprised of Drai’s Beachclub and Drai’s Nightclub — which opened in May 2014 atop the Cromwell.

“It’s a 65,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space, and we really wanted to do something a little different with the nightclub,” Affronti said. “Everybody is doing electronic DJs, and we wanted to reinvent it. We bring in live acts — full-blown concerts — and we’ve been trending up for every show. We recently had Nelly perform, and he stayed on stage for two hours.”

With a slant toward hip-hip, other recent nightclub acts include Future, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown and Trey Songz, said Affronti, who also helps oversee After Hours, which is located in the basement of the Cromwell and has been operational for more than 17 years.

Affronti is also a franchise owner of TruFusion gym's Summerlin location, and is an advocate for nonprofits that support children and battered women.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Laiyla Bass

Marketing Manager

IKEA

■ Age: 39

Laiyla Bass

Laiyla Bass

As IKEA Las Vegas’ marketing manager, Laiyla Bass has created relationships in a short time to establish IKEA as a strong community partner. She proactively seeks partnerships that strengthen the community by supporting local businesses.

For example, Bass partnered with Southern Hills Hospital’s Balloon Festival in 2016, as well as several others, to catapult IKEA into Las Vegas’ fabric, helping make her company “a household name in the positive aspect of community relations.”

Bass said that she has played “an integral role by being part of the most highly anticipated retail grand openings in Las Vegas. As a brand ambassador for a global brand, I managed to introduce IKEA to Southern Nevada with high-profile ad campaigns and interactive activities to enhance the customer and community loyalty experience.”

By traveling and exploring different cultures while working for IKEA, she said, “I have been exposed to a significant amount of global diversity that I can admire and appreciate.”

Two of Bass’s major goals for 2017 are to be “an advocate for seizing the moment” and to “focus on work life balance more frequently, including valuing a fika (Swedish for coffee or tea break) every once in a while.”

Looking ahead, Bass says she will focus on further connecting IKEA to the community with sustainability efforts and initiatives highlighting children’s education and homelessness. “My goal is to create a home away from home for those who need supportive shelter, and to contribute towards remodeling projects for struggling families who cannot afford their dream furnished home.”

One thing Bass points to that she has learned from a series of mentors is that “You should always be courageous enough to take risks which will result in bigger rewards.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Latoya Bembry

Director of Public Relations

The Ferraro Group

■ Age: 35

Latoya Bembry

Latoya Bembry

A communications professional for 13 years and lifelong local, Latoya Bembry dedicated her career to helping businesses seeking public relations and marketing assistance.

As PR director at the Ferraro Group, she oversees client relations, business development, social media, employee relations, community outreach planning, strategy development and day-to-day operations of the company. Among the clients with whom she works are Nevada State Contractors Board, JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) Nevada, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Helping our clients reach their goals, and having a seat at the table when they make decisions that affect the image of their company/organization, will always be an accomplishment,” said Bembry. “Being promoted to director of public relations for the Ferraro Group wasn’t too shabby, either.”

Assisting with business development “will always be a goal,” she added, “but I will also be looking more into continuing education to enhance my skill set so that I may be able to help our clients more.”

Bembry’s message to others is that they can often accomplish more than they think they can. “You may not be the smartest, most talented person in the room, but not being afraid to put in a good day’s work, coupled with a willingness to learn and better oneself, will level the playing field.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Eric Cohen

Co-founder and Managing Director

The Calida Group

■ Age: 39

Eric Cohen

Eric Cohen

After working in the real estate industry in South Florida for more than seven years, South Florida native Eric Cohen moved to Southern Nevada to open the local office of Trammell Crow Residential in 2006.

But the graduate of Florida Atlantic University, who holds a degree in finance and real estate development, had a vision to bring high-end, multifamily housing to the region, teaming up with Douglas Eisner to launch The Calida Group in August 2007.

After completing construction on other condo projects and reverting them back to apartment projects, The Calida Group broke ground in 2011 with Elysian at the District and now has Elysian at Southern Highlands, Elysian at St. Rose, Constellation at Downtown Summerlin, Elysian West, Elysian at Stone Lake and Elysian at Flamingo, with plans for two additional properties at Hughes Center and the Palms.

The company also has developments in California, Texas, Florida and Utah.

“We’ve built about 4,000 apartments in Southern Nevada, with another 4,000 in the pipeline, but we also wanted to diversify not only geographically, but product-type as well, so we’re also now focusing on our health care platform, building skilled nursing facilities, assisted-living and memory-care facilities,” said Cohen, who added that the Calida Cares philanthropic platform includes the Elysian Foundation which in 2017 benefits Habitat for Humanity.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Jason 'JRoc' Craig

Co-owner

81/82 Group

■ Age: 35

Jason Craig

Jason Craig

After attending UNLV and serving in the Marines, Los Angeles native Jason “JRoc” Craig moved to Las Vegas with plans to get into the nightlife business.

“So I took any position I could get, starting out as the glass and trash guy at the Hard Rock Hotel in 2004, then moving on to become a bar-back and then a bartender at Center Bar,” said the United States Marine Corps veteran.Craig helped open Rehab prior to moving over to the Palms in 2006, where he served as a VIP host and was promoted to marketing manager before leaving the company.

In 2012, Craig co-founded 81/82 Group with business partner Ryan Labbe.

“We’ve worked with just about every nightlife company in Las Vegas,” said Craig, adding that 81/82 Group partnered with former Light Group owner Andy Masi to open Clique Bar & Lounge at the Cosmopolitan in late 2015. “We’ve also partnered with a company called 50 Bleu vodka and anti-hangover recovery drink Resqwater to assist in their brand launches.”

Most recently, 81/82 Group partnered with Clique Hospitality and Montage International on the Pendry San Diego, an upscale hotel.

“The Pendry was a really big deal for us, and represents the largest project we’ve undertaken,” said Smith. “We operate The Pool House — which is a rooftop lounge — and also the Oxford Social Club.”

Craig also is a brand ambassador with Stitched, a men’s boutique in the Cosmopolitan.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Bret Davis

Executive Vice President

Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage

■ Age: 39

Bret Davis

Bret Davis

As executive vice president of commercial real estate brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle, Bret Davis has a hands-off management style that has served him well since he was recruited to run the Las Vegas office in May 2010.

“I hold as few meetings as possible,” said the Ohio native, who holds a bachelor of science in business management from UNLV and previously worked at CB Richard Ellis and Glenborough LLC. “Everybody is clear on their goals and we hire experienced, self-motivated people that gel with the JLL culture. The result is a casual but highly productive office.”

Indeed, since Davis came on board, the local office of the publicly traded, Chicago-based company has grown from two brokers and one support staff to a workforce of nine, with annual revenue in excess of $25 million, which represents a tenfold increase since 2010.

Davis played an active role in several high-profile transactions, including the 2012 brokerage of the largest office lease in Southern Nevada history.

“It was a phenomenal opportunity because of all the moving parts and details involved in a transaction of that size, and it was a great learning experience,” said Davis, who has concluded more than 5.2 million square feet of transactions.

He has a positive outlook for 2017. I think it will be a great year for the market with a lot of activity,” said Davis, a seven-time participant in AIDS LifeCycle and fundraiser for San Francisco AIDS Foundation and also an Ironman competitor.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Dan Flores

Vice President of Business Development

Maverick Aviation Group

■ Age: 39

Dan Flores

Dan Flores

When Dan Flores was recruited to Maverick Helicopters in 2007 as director of business development for the Grand Canyon South Rim location, the company had 19 helicopters and focused its business primarily on the Nevada and Arizona markets.

A decade later, Maverick Aviation Group operates one of the world’s largest and youngest fleets of Airbus ECO-Star helicopters — with 47 — and also has six airplanes and business operations in Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. The parent company now operates six enterprises, including Maverick Helicopters, Maverick Airlines, Mustang Helicopters, Maverick Maui, Grand Canyon West Rim and Grand Canyon South Rim, and has spread its wings to reach international markets to further bolster its business, with Flores at the helm of the outreach, serving in his current post for more than six years.

“I travel 150 to 200 days per year,” said Flores, who was raised in Las Vegas, attended UNLV, and previously worked in various capacities at Bellagio and Walters Golf, where he was acting as business development manager when he made the move to Maverick. “As we grew, we needed to diversify. I started working with the Canadian market, then made my way into Europe, establishing business-to-business relationships with wholesale travel companies that sell tourism packages to Las Vegas. The United Kingdom is our biggest market, but there are also opportunities in India, Eastern Europe and Russia.”

This year the company is looking to expand its Hawaiian presence with the launch of Maverick Kauai, according to Flores, who supports Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada, sitting on its gardening/healthy lifestyles committee.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Loni Gray

National Accounts Manager

Brown-Forman

■ Age: 35

Loni Gray

Loni Gray

Loni Gray has been described as a force to be reckoned with within the beverage industry — not only in Las Vegas, but around the country.

“I think I’ve had the passion, focus, and balance that has helped me get to where I am today,” she said.

In her role at Brown-Forman, Gray is responsible for managing the national casino channel for brands under the Brown-Forman umbrella, such as Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. She oversees the sales, marketing and financial plans related to the top four customer chains in the United States.

As a working mother, she has found, “Each day that you can share your whole self with your family is a huge accomplishment. To be there to comfort your little one when they fall, or cry because an episode of ‘Peppa Pig’ has been deleted, is the best feeling in the world, even if you have a crazy deadline at work or a project that needs your immediate attention.”

Gray says she was inspired by my mother’s strength and courage. “She’s taught me that no matter what challenges I may face, to always stay positive and remain optimistic.” She believes it is important to maintain integrity throughout one’s career. “Even if there are tough conversations to be had or business that you may have to walk away from, in the end your character is how you are measured.”

Gray is hoping to expand her reach. “I also am hoping to further enhance my efforts at the Las Vegas Business Academy to recruit new students and engage potential board members.” Personally, she is “looking forward to taking photography lessons so I can really capture some special moments with my husband and daughter.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Alejandro Hormechea

Chief Executive Officer

Fino For Men

■ Age: 39

Alejandro Hormechea

Alejandro Hormechea

After growing up in New Jersey and earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Widener University in Pennsylvania, Alejandro Hormechea moved in 1999 to Las Vegas, intending to gain experience in the hospitality industry at Caesars Palace before relocating back to the East Coast.

Plans changed after he took to heart some sage words from his barber.

“One day I asked him what he would do if money wasn’t an object, and he said, without hesitation, ‘Open a men’s salon’,” Hormechea said. “It made sense, because who doesn’t like to look good and feel good when they get up in the morning? I envisioned more than a traditional barbershop experience, and not quite a ladies’ salon, but more of a gentlemen’s grooming lounge, with a comfortable, masculine vibe.”

To that end, Hormechea spent almost two years researching the industry, eventually opening Fino For Men on West Sahara Avenue in May 2008.

“At the beginning, business was dismal because of the economic downturn, and I was $500,000 in debt,” said Hormechea, whose motto, “Fake it ’til we make it,” got Fino For Men through the recession and beyond. “Every single year since inception we’ve outdone ourselves revenue-wise, and we now have 10 full-time employees and a client database of about 14,500 customers.”

In 2017, Hormechea anticipates creating a Fino For Men product line and opening a second valley location, with plans in the works to expand the brand to other major U.S. markets.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Cory Johnson

Vice President of Food and Beverage

Caesars Palace

■ Age: 39

Cory Johnson

Cory Johnson

As vice president of food and beverage for Caesars Palace, Cory Johnson directs the property's $320 million food and beverage program and 2,300 employees. The Pittsburgh native has a healthy respect for fresh ingredients and recognizes the distinction between good and great, having begun his career in the kitchen.

“I have never had a job outside of F&B, and fell in love with the industry working as a line cook at the famous Louis Tambellini’s in Pittsburgh as a young man,” said Johnson, who joined Caesars Entertainment in 2010 as food and beverage director at Horseshoe and Harrah’s in Council Bluffs, Iowa, assuming his current post in January 2015 following numerous promotions.

“I oversee 13 restaurants, seven bars and lounges, pool operations, and culinary for banquets and room service,” said Johnson.

Johnson has produced record-setting financial and service results two years consecutively. He maintains a restaurant portfolio featuring some of the top chefs in the world, including Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy and Bobby Flay.

Milestones in 2016 include the successful opening of Las Vegas’ first MR CHOW restaurant, Montecristo Cigar Bar and Alto Bar. In addition, he received the company's 2016 Excellence in Leadership Award, and the Bacchanal buffet was voted No. 1 in the U.S. by the New York Post, and is the single largest-grossing restaurant in the country, at $52 million.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Bryce Krausman

Owner

DW Bistro

■ Age: 39

Bryce Krausman

Bryce Krausman

With the casualty rate for new restaurants estimated at more than 90 percent during the first year of operation, Las Vegas native Bryce Krausman took a gamble when he co-founded DW Bistro in 2009 with Dalton Wilson.

With a shared passion for everything epicurean, “We were brothers in food,” said Krausman, adding that the pair used to host lavish dinner parties and Sunday brunches, and had been kicking around the idea of opening their own eatery when serendipity intervened and presented a golden opportunity. “We found a restaurant space that had closed, with all the equipment left behind, so it was basically a turn-key operation with very low overhead required to realize our dream.”

Eight years later, DW Bistro is a southwest neighborhood favorite, with a menu that fuses Jamaican flavors with a New Mexican-inspired flair.

“(Jamaican-born) Dalton was raised in New Mexico, so our menu is savory and spicy and flavorful,” said Krausman.

Last November, DW Bistro relocated from its previous 3,600-square-foot space on Fort Apache Road into 4,700 square feet in the Gramercy, and the owners have also signed a lease to convert the closed Mundo space in the World Market Center and launch a new venture, DW Kitchen & Bar, which will serve lunch and dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays, taking advantage of the built-in theater crowd from the nearby Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

“It’s 8,000 square feet, and will include a restaurant, lounge and market with ready-made DW food and some aspects of a little bodega,” said Krausman, who also owns houseseatslv.com, hosts a weekly podcast — House Seats Presents — and supports Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, Candlelighters and Alzheimer’s research.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Christine Maddela

News Anchor

Fox5 News Las Vegas

■ Age: 34

Christine Maddela

Christine Maddela

As a weekday news anchor with Fox5 Las Vegas, Christine Maddela reaches valley viewers at 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m., providing award-winning coverage since joining the station’s news team in April 2015. In an era of fake news, the journalist, who was raised in Denver, is an advocate for her profession, holding herself and her colleagues to the highest standard of ethics.

“I believe good journalists are public servants and truth-seekers who serve the community,” said Maddela, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. “I’m not here because it’s a glamourous lifestyle or because I wanted to be on air.”

An Emmy-award winner for a 2015 story about a Henderson man who returned the Japanese flag his father captured from a Japanese soldier in WWII to the heirs of the soldier, Maddela also provided coverage of the deadly 2015 crash near Planet Hollywood that killed one and injured about three dozen.

“I was on the Strip with family, and got an alert from my executive producer, and was the first journalist on the scene,” she said.

More recently, Maddela spearheaded Fox5’s political debate coverage, and last November she produced a 30-minute news segment on immigration, traveling south to conduct interviews on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

But Maddela’s work off-camera is also notable. A board member of the Embracing Project, which helps child victims of sex trafficking, she also is an advocate for young journalists, whom she mentors. “It’s a tough, subjective industry that’s getting tougher by the day, and it’s important for young reporters to know there’s somebody who’s been where they are,” said Maddela.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Kyle Markman

Co-founder

Silent Savasana

■ Age: 33

Kyle Markman

Kyle Markman

A few years ago, Dallas native Kyle Markman was attending a music festival when he stumbled into a campground of millennials and discovered silent disco.

“They give you headphones and that’s the only way to hear the music,” Markman said of the craze. “From the outside looking in it looks like a huge dance party that’s completely silent.”

A marketing professional who holds a degree in statistics from the University of Denver, Markman was brainstorming ideas for other headphone-related events. He partnered with certified yoga instructor Dray Gardner, then reached out to Station Casinos, and — after a few test runs at a Summerlin park — brought Silent Savasana — whereby participants wear headsets to hear the instructor’s voice — to Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch resorts.

“It’s not a yoga class, it’s a yoga experience, both mentally and physically,” said Markman. “Our biggest day of the summer in 2016 we had 550 people, and we recently had an event with 400.”

Silent Savasana also offers a yoga experience on the High Roller and partnered with Maverick Helicopters for excursions to Valley of Fire.

“It costs $3,500 for as many as six people, and it’s like doing yoga on the moon,” said Markman, who also created the Royal Crawl pub crawl and supports Boys & Girls Club.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Michelle Massaro

Director of Advertising & Marketing

Westgate Las Vegas

■ Age: 39

Michelle Massaro

Michelle Massaro

Michelle Massaro began her career in casino special events and has learned the casino marketing, advertising, entertainment and digital marketing industries.

With her vast knowledge of the marketing industry, Massaro has helped develop marketing departments from the bottom up and promote numerous shows and launches throughout her career.

“Rebranding the world’s largest sports book, improving the property’s TripAdvisor scores and opening great several new shows, a new spa and more convention space, along with exceeding financial goals in 2016, is something to be proud of,” she said. “Being able to sit back and see success in my career without skipping a beat in my home life is something I also take pride in, and is important to me."

One of the things Massaro is looking forward to in the months to come is giving more back to the community; in fact, she calls it her No. 1 goal. Professionally, she said, “This is a big year for Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. With new branding and marketing campaigns, we are constantly adding more experiences for our guests and creating a vibe that we’re hoping is a game changer in Las Vegas.”

In every position she has ever held, Massaro said, she has “made sure to understand everybody’s role. Being well rounded and understanding the gaming and financial side of special events has been a key to my success in marketing. Not to mention, I have a husband who is a saint and has been so supportive.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Tya Mathis-Coleman

Director I, Recruitment: Diversity and High-Need Areas Focus

Clark County School District

■ Age: 35

Tya Mathis-Coleman

Tya Mathis-Coleman

Tya Mathis-Coleman is a passionate public servant for Southern Nevada. She drew her passion to serve our community from her mother's parents who devoted their lives to Clark County education. She interned in the state legislature while pursuing her undergraduate degree in political science at UNR.

Recognizing the value in higher education, she continued to pursue a master's degree in public administration while working with UNR.

In her role as an admissions coordinator for the university, her primary responsibility was recruiting students in the Las Vegas area.

According to Mathis-Coleman, 2016 was “hands down the most demanding, challenging yet rewarding year of my life. People always say, if you want something done right ask a busy person. That was definitely my motto in 2016.

“Professionally, I took on more responsibility when my team of eight grew to 20 in January of 2016. Even with the growing demands of this position, I feel very fortunate that I get the opportunity to work with an amazing team each day."

As the director over teacher recruitment for the fifth-largest school district in the United States, “things can be very challenging. However, this is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Each year, my focus is to create and develop a targeted recruitment plan that will help us reach our ultimate goal — to have a highly-qualified teacher in every classroom in the Clark County School District.”

For this year, she calls finding balance “crucial. Being a young professional woman can be very challenging. It is important that I learn to find a balance between my personal and professional life and that I learn to take time for myself.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Stacie Michaels

Vice President & General Counsel

Wynn Las Vegas

■ Age: 36

Stacie Michaels

Stacie Michaels

Stacie Michaels is one of the youngest general counsels of a major gaming company in the world. She is bright, articulate and hardworking, which only goes part of the way toward explaining her success.

One of Michaels’ most impressive accomplishments of the past year was her participation on the committee for Wynn Las Vegas to negotiate a new agreement with the Culinary Union.

“I remember the Frontier strike, and the impact labor relations can have on our community as a whole," she said. "It was a detailed process, but the end results were great for the company and our workforce.”

Michaels’ first mentor after law school was Edward Garcia, who was a partner at Jones Vargas. “He took me under his wing in what could be perceived as a male-dominated industry and taught me not only how to practice law, but also to step outside my comfort zone and put myself out there. Without his support, I would have never had the confidence to run for public office at the age of 26.”

Though it was an unsuccessful run, that experience ultimately lead to her introduction to Kim Sinatra, general counsel for Wynn Resorts, whom Michaels says has been “an unbelievable mentor, both personally and professionally. As a female executive in the gaming industry, she is someone I look up to, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with her."

“Professionally, I love my job and I enjoy the work that I do, and I hope that that continues in 2017,” Michaels said. “Personally, I want to continue to set a good example for my three daughters by showing them that hard work pays off.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Stephanie Mohr

Director of Customer Care

SolarCity

■ Age: 31

Stephanie Mohr

Stephanie Mohr

Stephanie Mohr has a keen ability to think outside of the box, and is always willing and able to put herself in others’ shoes — which allows her to adapt to a multitude of situations.

Mohr moved from the Bay Area in California to Las Vegas in the summer of 2013 to help support the build-out of the SolarCity call center, which is now home to more than 700 employees and supports six internal teams. She started as a customer care specialist at SolarCity, and within four years has managed the department skillfully and helped build a number of processes and additional departments.

Mohr has proven an integral part of SolarCity’s rapid growth through hiring, process development and improvement. She was also among the first to step up to the challenge of building brand recognition in an area that was completely unfamiliar with the SolarCity name.

The year just ended presented new opportunities for outreach. “Last February, I was asked to speak at the Customer Happiness Tour, hosted by Freshdesk, in San Francisco,” Mohr said. “This was the first customer service conference with an audience of small tech companies looking for advice on how to start or grow a call center. We covered many different topics, including training program development, hiring and retaining the best staff, and implementation of proactive customer service.”

Her goals for the months ahead include improving resources for her employees by deploying a knowledge-management system that is speech-to-text capable. “That will guide my reps through live calls, and ensure that customers hear the most current and relevant information.”

Mohr also wants to improve the customer experience by expanding self-help tools online and more proactive communication. In addition, she plans to introduce more methods of communication with her customers, including chat, screen sharing and more.

— Howard Riell

•••

Amanda Moore

Las Vegas Director of Marketing

Live Nation

■ Age: 38

Amanda Moore

Amanda Moore

The Las Vegas director of marketing for concert promoter Live Nation, Amanda Moore began her music career at record labels in 2000, a year before graduating from Loyola Marymount University.

In 2006, she began working for Vans Warped Tour Founder Kevin Lyman and hasn't looked back.

The Boulder Creek, Calif., native moved to Southern Nevada in 2014, working at AEG Las Vegas prior to opening the Live Nation Las Vegas office in March 2015.

“Basically, I am the precipice for any facet of marketing for our shows that you can imagine,” said Moore, who is responsible for marketing nearly 150 concerts annually at venues such as the Axis Theater, T-Mobile Arena, the Park, Mandalay Bay Events Center, MGM Grand Garden Arena and the Park Theater.

Since assuming her current position, Moore — who donates ticket and packages to the Human Rights Campaign, Make-A-Wish Foundation, AFAN of Southern Nevada, the Animal Foundation and others — has launched local residencies for the Backstreet Boys, Lionel Richie, Pitbull, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and others.

“I’m also very excited for the launch of Las Vegas’ own rock festival, Las Rageous, which takes me back to my roots,” Moore said. “I love working with rock and metal bands and fans. They might be the most passionate of the bunch — after Backstreet Boys fans, of course!”

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Timothy O'Reilly

President

O'Reilly Law Group

■ Age: 39

Timothy O'Reilly

Timothy O'Reilly

O’Reilly Law Group President Timothy O’Reilly is a strong advocate for his clients both in and out of the courtroom. Licensed to practice law in both Nevada and California, he has been successful in securing and saving millions of dollars for his clients.

O’Reilly and his family have deep roots in the Las Vegas community and are proud to support and serve the community in a variety of ways. Among his many commitments, O’Reilly serves as a mentor in the State Bar of Nevada’s Transitioning into Practice Program, sharing his experience, wisdom and guidance with newly admitted attorneys. He has also served as the president of the UNLV Rebel Football Foundation, and actively looks for ways to give back to his alma mater, from which he was a nationally recognized student athlete and received his law degree.

While president of O'Reilly Law Group, O’Reilly also became involved with the financial and fundraising aspects of developing a football training facility for UNLV. “The successful development of collegiate athletics is critical to the success of our university, community and the State of Nevada,” he said.

O’Reilly’s professional goals for 2017 involve continuing to serve his clients. “As for my personal goals,” he said, “I look forward to spending valuable time with my young family, and to being a role model to my children as they strive to achieve their own personal goals.”

­— Howard Riell

•••

Christopher Oh

Vice President of Strategic Operations

MGM Resorts International

■ Age: 39

Christopher Oh

Christopher Oh

Since joining MGM Resorts International in April 2009 as manager of financial analysis and strategy at Project CityCenter, Christopher Oh has ascended the corporate ranks with steady momentum, having served as director of finance and strategy at ARIA, and as director of strategic planning at MGM Resorts International prior to assuming his current post two years ago.

The Baltimore native, who worked on Wall Street in investment banking and management for 10 years, is now responsible for developing the overall corporate strategy for the company, which breaks down into several key components.

“One piece is improving our overall efficiency and our effectiveness of operations, and uncovering ways to build profitability and cash flow,” said Oh, who holds a degree in economics from Princeton University and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “Our profit growth plan has been very successful over the last year and a half, and last year all our different financial results were phenomenal.”

Another component of corporate strategy relates to growth and development, Oh said, and includes expansion of operations into new markets, including new properties in Maryland; Springfield, Mass.; and Cotai, China. On a local level, Oh said the company is also reimagining the customer experience with projects such as T-Mobile Arena and The Park.

Oh also leads initiatives related to corporate responsibility, volunteerism and philanthropy — which he said are integral to corporate culture — and is active with the MGM Resorts Foundation, having volunteered with Three Square Food Bank, among other charitable outreach efforts.

As for the year ahead, “2017 is about building on our foundation to enhance capabilities in areas such as guest and employee engagement, and making sure the company maintains a structured approach to the strategic direction we’ve identified,” Oh said.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Gerald Pacheco

Regional Director of Operations

sbe Las Vegas

■ Age: 37

Gerald Pacheco

Gerald Pacheco

Gerald Pacheco aspired to a career in the nightlife and hospitality industries, and he wasn’t afraid to do some dirty work to achieve this goal.

“My first gig was at Club Seven in 2001,” said the Northern California native, who sold his car to pay for bartending school, and taught himself the art of flair bartending. “My first night, a guy named Tony gave me a Club Seven T-shirt, a bar rag and a flashlight, and told me my job was to make sure there were no empty beer bottles, dirty ashtrays or vomit on the floor.”

Despite his unglamorous introduction to the industry, Pacheco’s perseverance paid off, and he went on to hone his nightlife-management and marketing skills in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami, holding positions with companies and brands such as Ice, The Raleigh Miami Beach, Empire Ballroom, Graystone Manor, CityCenter and The Light Group, joining the sbe family in 2013, where he became regional director of operations for Los Angeles Nightlife.

In November 2015, he was recruited as regional director of operations for the Las Vegas market, tapped to spearhead the opening of Hyde at T-Mobile Arena, an 18,000-square-foot venue that extends over the arena’s general seating area. Open since last April, the space offers a VIP experience with views of concerts and sporting events as well as Las Vegas Boulevard.

“It’s crazy to see how big the venue is, but I was up for the challenge, and it’s my crowning achievement,” said Pacheco, who also has increased flow through for two other local sbe properties, Hyde Bellagio and Double Barrel Roadhouse. “In the future, we’re looking to build a brand that’s going to tie all of our venues across the country and internationally together via memberships and premium packages, and have other projects in the pipeline for Las Vegas.”

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Steven Peralta

Director of Philanthropy

Roseman University College of Medicine

■ Age: 39

Steven Peralta

Steven Peralta

In looking back at the year just ended, Steven Peralta is justifiably proud of many things.

“Professionally, I’m real humbled and proud of our team at the College of Medicine and at Roseman University,” he said. “We have great health care leaders and physicians working on some really groundbreaking projects in education, patient care services and research. Our team is made up of leaders from the Las Vegas community, and also from around the country.”

Personally, he feels “very grateful for my wife and kids. My family is the foundation of everything I do. Having three beautiful young girls, my wife and I were very excited to welcome our new baby boy, Giovanni, last October."

Balance is a key value for Peralta. “Earlier in my career, when I was getting started, I was a ‘fanatic’ about working long hours every day and just being focused on my career. It was great for my career, but I felt like I was not fulfilling my ultimate purpose. Now I feel like I have the best of both worlds, a great family life and work that I really enjoy.

"Professionally, I want to continue making more progress on our $66-million-dollar campaign for the College of Medicine in 2017.”

Peralta’s advice to others hoping to emulate his success is to focus on just a few things in life “and make them extraordinary. I think too many times we all try to do too much all at once. I certainly learned this the hard way in my career. I tried to do everything and was all over the place because I thought this was the right way. I was wrong.

"As John Maxwell says, 'Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. Use your God-given talents and take a risk'.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Robin Perkins

Partner

Snell & Wilmer

■ Age: 37

Robin Perkins

Robin Perkins

Drive and determination are just two of the words that describe Robin Perkins in her professional life as a Snell & Wilmer litigator. Both inside and outside the court room, she tirelessly pursues justice for her clients.

But there are three additional words — advocate, humanitarian and counselor — that truly reflect this business and community trailblazer. Her philanthropic endeavors include board leadership on the Animal Foundation and Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada; promoting and improving the legal practice through her substantial involvement in the American Bar Association; mentoring women attorneys; and representing abused and neglected children through her pro bono work.

In addition to her professional and volunteer work in Southern Nevada, Perkins serves on multiple national committees for the bar association, including co-chairing the Woman Advocate Committee for the Litigation Section.

“Being elected as a partner at Snell & Wilmer was a milestone accomplishment in 2016 that I’ve been working towards for many years,” Perkins said. “I am so proud to be a Snell & Wilmer partner, working with smart and talented attorneys and all-around good people. ”

Her goals for the coming year are to represent her clients to the best of her ability and second, to “continue to build and foster strong relationships with my existing and potential clients.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Micah Phillips

Executive Vice President, Marketing Director

Nevada State Bank

■ Age: 39

Micah Phillips

Micah Phillips

Micah Phillips has been instrumental in Nevada State Bank’s continued efforts to be an industry leader.

Phillips is able to manage the industry’s growing complexity and see the big picture. He understands how the business runs, how it connects with the community, and where the intersection is to make sure the two come together.

In nearly 20 years, Phillips has worn many hats. He helped work with clients to meet their needs, lead internal organizational development and strategy efforts, manage key areas of risk, and drive a marketing program that supports the bank’s growth efforts.

Phillips said he is proud of what his team has been able to accomplish. “In late 2015, we combined three work groups into one. In 2016, we were able to organize and operate with greater synergy. I work with a very talented group of individuals, and to see them produce such great work was inspiring for me.

Phillips said he is “energized by the prospect of accelerating the growth of our bank. We have a tremendous value proposition, and our clients give us great feedback. What is unfortunate is that so many of our competitors’ clients, though unhappy, stick with their current banks.” He hopes to affect change “by inspiring our prospective clients to take the leap in changing their banking relationship through effective marketing.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Greg Riches

Vice President and Legal Counsel

MGM Resorts International

■ Age: 34

Greg Riches

Greg Riches

As vice president and legal counsel for MGM Resorts International, Greg Riches played a pivotal role in the construction, development of the $375 million T-Mobile Arena.

The facility, which opened in April, is a joint venture between MGM Resorts and AEG — one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters and venue operators in the world.

“Generally speaking, 2016 was a yet another dynamic year for MGM Resorts International,” said Riches, who joined the company in 2013 as senior associate general counsel and assumed his current post about two years ago.

“In terms of entertainment, T-Mobile Arena was the highlight for MGM Resorts International and the Strip, and my role entailed wearing quite a few different hats as an attorney to balance the needs of a joint venture owned by two different large corporations. It’s been an amazing experience fostering a strong partnership between MGM and AEG.”

Riches was also instrumental in negotiating the venue license agreement for the Vegas Golden Knights National Hockey League franchise to play at T-Mobile Arena, and in opening the Park Theater in Las Vegas and the National Harbor Theater in Maryland.

Also during 2016, he served as corporate legal counsel in connection with MGM Resort’s recent acquisition of Borgata in Atlantic City, and the formation and initial public offering of MGM Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust which now owns the property underlying several of MGM Resort’s casinos.

Looking ahead, “2017 is about building on momentum for the wide-variety of entertainment venues we have now by developing and engaging content,” he said. “Live entertainment and dynamic experiences will fill the void where gaming was the leader in terms of tourism.”

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Sasha Rincón-Camacho

Director of Marketing & Communications

House of Blues Las Vegas — Live Nation

■ Age: 36

Sasha Rincón-Camacho

Sasha Rincón-Camacho

One of the things for which Sasha Rincón-Camacho is best known among her colleagues is her unwavering work ethic. Indeed, one recently described her as “always being the hardest working person in the room. When I think of what dynamic means, it is characterized by continuous change, vigorous activity, high effectiveness, energy and force. She is a force to be reckoned with.”

Rincón-Camacho’s proven ability to recognize and capitalize on market trends and assume bottom-line responsibility for strategic planning, pricing, market research and forecasting complement her broad knowledge of marketing disciplines, including research, direct marketing, promotional planning, production, event planning and advertising.

“There are several things I am proud of and grateful to have been a part of professionally” in 2016, she said. “One that stands out is staying steadfast in my mission to build a high-performance marketing team ripe with passion and authenticity — much the way I handle many of the important decisions and factors in my life.”

As with any significant endeavor, Rincón-Camacho said, building “the ideal marketing team starts with a solid foundation and plenty of grit, of course. With that, one can build or even re-build anything.”

An inspirational quote that she said has always kept her simultaneously aware of the present and focused on the future comes from Walt Disney: Keep moving forward.

“Whether personally or professionally, I’ve always kept those words close to heart,” she said. “I fell in love with marketing and advertising at a very young age — 13, to be exact — and I’ve never deviated. I’ve spent a lifetime learning every nuance of this industry, and am as passionate about it now as I was then. The fact that the business I’m in does, in fact, always keep moving forward in every sense of the word is no coincidence.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Dr. Jonathan Salinas

Laryngologist - Voice & Swallowing Disorders Specialist

Ear, Nose and Throat Consultants of Nevada

■ Age: 36

Jonathan Salinas

Jonathan Salinas

Dr. Jonathan Salinas was born in Lima, Peru, and at an early age began developing a deep appreciation for music, especially the voice, from his mother, a professional singer. His comprehensive approach to the care of the professional voice is influenced by his personal experience as a musician and the unique experience of treating voice professionals at UCLA, Las Vegas, and abroad.

It was as a medical student at UCLA that Salinas developed a close mentorship with world-class laryngologists and voice specialists Drs. Gerald Berke and Dinesh Chhetri. He remained in Los Angeles to complete his residency training in otolaryngology at the prestigious Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the Ronald Reagan – UCLA Medical Center. He was then chosen to complete a laryngology fellowship at UCLA, where he further honed his skills in the comprehensive management of voice, airway and swallowing disorders, while concurrently holding positions of Clinical Instructor in Head and Neck Surgery at UCLA Medical Center and as an attending surgeon at Olive View — UCLA Medical Center.

“I feel very fortunate that I was able to accomplish a number of important goals in 2016,” said Salinas. “Nevertheless, the greatest accomplishment that I experienced last year was the honor of becoming a first-time father and to begin the life-long journey of caring for my son.”

Salinas is expanding his medical practice to include ancillary specialized speech pathology care.

“I believe that optimal voice care for singers begins with the development of an impeccable singing technique.” He has also decided to start a music production company to develop the voice of up-and-coming singers in Latin America.

— Howard Riell

•••

Blake Sartini II

Senior Vice President of Distributed Gaming

Golden Entertainment

■ Age: 31

Blake Sartini II

Blake Sartini II

Las Vegas native Blake Sartini II joined Golden Entertainment (then known as Golden Gaming) in 2010, tending bar by night at one of Golden’s PT’s taverns, and crunching numbers by day as a financial analyst for the company, which owns and operates casinos, taverns and slot routes in Nevada and Montana.

Firmly rooted on the executive track, he rapidly ascended the corporate ranks, assuming his current position as senior vice president of distributed gaming in July 2015, a move that coincided with Golden Gaming’s $341 million merger with Lakes Entertainment the following month.

“We were gearing up to take the company public and were restructuring for growth,” said the executive.

The largest route operator in Nevada, Golden Gaming is now the second-largest in Montana, having expanded in Big Sky Country in 2016 under Sartini’s leadership.

In 2016, Golden Entertainment opened five new taverns in Southern Nevada, with Sartini responsible for the management of the expansion. This year, the company plans to open an additional seven taverns in the Las Vegas valley under the PT’s Gold brand.

“We’ve got a full plate in 2017 as we continue to strengthen our market share in Nevada and Montana,” said Sartini, who holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Chapman University, and supports Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation and Stillpoint Center for Spiritual Development.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Earl Shelton

District Event Specialist

Sephora

■ Age: 37

Earl Shelton

Earl Shelton

Prior to joining the team at French cosmetics chain Sephora in September 2013, Las Vegas native Earl Shelton was associate publisher at LBGT publishing company QVegas from 2004 to 2010.

He was also previously development director at Aid for AIDS of Southern Nevada and co-founder of boutique LGBT marketing and consulting firm Shelton & Smith LLC before turning his professional focus to the business of beauty.

“A long-time friend was a store director with Sephora, and I started as an event coordinator at the Caesars Palace location planning in-store events and introducing existing friends and business partners to the brand,” Shelton said. “After spending a year at Caesars I was promoted to district event specialist, where I oversee events in the valley and negotiate sponsorships with various partners to get Sephora active in the community.”

Shelton has recently been instrumental in securing local partnerships and sponsorships with companies such as Tao Group, Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association, Las Vegas Women’s Leadership Council and Greenspun Media Group.

Shelton loves the diversity of his current role and engaging the Sephora team in giving back to the community.  For the past three years, he has organized volunteer time for the cast of Sephora to serve the women and children of The Shade Tree breakfast each week.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Rachel Skidmore

Emergency Manager

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

■ Age: 34

Rachel Skidmore

Rachel Skidmore

As Metro Police’s emergency manager assigned to the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center, Seattle native Rachel Skidmore oversees the program, including preparedness exercises, Silver Shield, the critical infrastructure protection program, and works to maintain Department of Homeland Security grant funding with federal counterparts.

Metro’s Homeland Security Division is comprised of the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center (a “fusion” center), Organized Crime Bureau, Emergency Operations Bureau and SWAT Bureau.

“The concept of the fusion-center designation was identified after 9/11 information gaps,” Skidmore said.

“The National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative is the primary purpose and goal of fusion centers, which is to collect, analyze, report and disseminate suspicious activity reporting.”

With a degree in business administration from Brigham Young University, Skidmore previously worked locally at Applied Analysis as well as at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a forensic accountant.

As chairwoman of the critical infrastructure committee and a member of the cybersecurity committee for the Nevada Homeland Security Commission, as well as vice chairwoman for Clark County’s local emergency planning committee, Skidmore — who supports Three Square Food Bank and Child Haven — said it’s all about preparedness and prevention.

“We develop ‘tabletop’ exercises, where we pull together all of our partner agencies and exercise our responses to events such as NASCAR, the Life is Beautiful Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival and New Year’s Eve,” said Skidmore, adding that Metro began installing Strip cameras in 2013, which has also aided law enforcement efforts. “Keeping the community safe by reducing violent crime is the No. 1 priority at Metro.”

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Chris Smith

Owner

McDonald's

■ Age: 30

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a second-generation McDonald’s owner who is following in the footsteps of his parents, who opened their first restaurant in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and now operate 13 locations across the Las Vegas valley.

But the California native, who first moved to Southern Nevada in 1996, originally intended to pursue quite a different professional path, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science at the Citadel, Military College of South Carolina, and a master’s degree in strategic intelligence at the Institute of World Politics. While considering career options in Washington, D.C., Smith — realizing the growing business opportunity in Las Vegas — began to reconsider his future.

“I thought it might be a good idea to learn how to run a business, and McDonald’s is the most successful multinational company in the world,” said Smith, who moved back home and started working at the location on Sunset Road and Durango Drive, going on to become the general manager and co-owner of the store at Blue Diamond Road and Durango Drive when it opened in June of 2013.

“It was my baby,” said Smith, adding that the restaurant achieved a 12.5 percent increase over projected sales in its first year and has continued to surpass anticipated annual projection. “We’ve also increased our drive-through business from about 76 percent to more than 80 percent, which is a substantial number, and a difficult goal to achieve.”

An advocate for community support, Smith participate in numerous programs through Ronald McDonald House Charities, including its family-dinner program and its scholarship program, and also hosts teachers’ nights several times a year to raise money for Wright Elementary School.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Sydney Smith

CEO and Clinical Director

Rise Center for Recovery

■ Age: 38

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith has built three addiction treatment centers from scratch in the last two years while simultaneously doing community service work and research in tribal communities across Nevada.

As a member of the Cherokee Nation, Smith saw firsthand the difficulties that befell other Native Americans when tribal casinos opened in her home state of Oklahoma. She developed an expertise in treating problem gambling at her Rise Center for Recovery practice, which led to her being selected by the Desert Research Institute to study how the issue affects Nevada’s 27 federally recognized Native American tribes.

“The founding of Rise Center for Recovery in early 2016 was a professional milestone in my mission to more comprehensively help those suffering from gambling addiction,” Smith said.

She places a strong priority on being culturally sensitive in her clinics.

“The two-state practice, which serves clients in Las Vegas and Oklahoma, assists both problem gamblers and family members," she said.

The focus of Smith’s work this year is the development of a problem-gambling residential treatment center to provide more intensive long-term care. “This is a particular need in Las Vegas that is currently not available,” she said. “Personally, my commitments are to spend more time on self-care, take a vacation to Bora Bora with my two amazing kids Gavin and Cali, and finish writing my book for the families of problem gamblers.”

Two longtime mentors who graciously shared their time and wisdom with Smith are Gordon Greco and pastor Dr. Larry Petton. “These two gentlemen have taught me about business, living an authentic life, being of service to others, and the importance of continued personal growth. For this, I am grateful beyond measure. ”

— Howard Riell

•••

Christian Stuart

Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff

Caesars Entertainment

■ Age: 38

Christian Stuart

Christian Stuart

Christian Stuart has hit his stride as senior vice president and chief of staff to Caesars Entertainment President and CEO Mark Frissora. He also recently served as regional chief marketing officer for Las Vegas, responsible for marketing operations and strategy of all nine resorts.

Stuart has more than a decade of experience in the gaming and entertainment industry, spanning analytics, operations, finance and marketing. He has worked here and in New Orleans, Gulf Coast, London, Egypt and South Africa.

He began his career with Caesars in 2005 at Harrah’s New Orleans as the director of planning and analysis for the Gulf Coast Region. After a three-year leadership role in finance and management with Caesars UK, he was named the regional vice president of finance in 2010, assisting all of Caesars’ affiliated resorts in the Gulf Coast Region.

In 2013, he relocated to Las Vegas as general manager of the Cromwell, Flamingo and Linq resorts, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations as well as the opening of the Linq Promenade and the High Roller.

Stuart’s goal at Caesars over the months to come is “to continue to ensure that we stay focused on our core mission of customer first in all the products and services Caesars offers worldwide.”

His company has made great strides in the areas of corporate social responsibility, as well.

“Given our scale and global presence, we can truly make a difference in the lives and well-being of others. For example, I am honored to serve as a board member for Clean the World, an organization that has distributed over 40 million bars of soap in over 115 countries worldwide. Approximately 1.8 million deaths a year can be prevented by simple access to a bar of soap.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Rikki Tanenbaum

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Golden Nugget Casinos

■ Age: 37

Rikki Tanenbaum

Rikki Tanenbaum

Rikki Tanenbaum has never been satisfied with “good enough.” Instead, she is always searching for ways to achieve new levels of success in terms of financials, customer satisfaction, team development and personal growth.

Tanenbaum has a reputation for consistently seeking out the latest technologies and the best new ideas to be found in the gaming and hospitality sector, while never losing sight of the need for a healthy return on investment.

“Since returning to Las Vegas about two years ago, it’s been important to me to find impactful ways I could contribute to the city,” she said.

In late 2016, she was promoted to chief marketing officer for Golden Nugget Casinos. Previously, she had worked as senior vice president of marketing, overseeing several properties.

In explaining her impressive inventory of accomplishments, Tanenbaum points out that “the best of my supervisors have both schooled me in technicalities of the job and have gone out of their way to prepare me for the next opportunity. Probably the greatest learning was how to temper a type-A personality with patience, compassion, humor and the realization that it takes all types — without compromising the drive to achieve.”

Over this past year, she has become involved with the Animal Foundation, where she serves on the board of directors and its Capital Campaign Committee; UNLV’s College of Hotel Administration; and the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council.

Her to-do list for the months ahead is daunting. “I’ve been in my new role for a few months, so I’d like to figure it out and execute on a number of initiatives that should be helpful to the business.

"Personally, I’m looking to deliver on my commitments to the organizations that I care about outside of work. Also, I plan to read more books on the social sciences.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Robert 'Twix' Taylor

Owner

Fade'Em All Barber Shops and Salons

■ Age: 39

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor started out by cutting hair in junior high school and has gone on to successfully open multiple barber shops and beauty salons throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

A native of North Las Vegas, Taylor, known as “Twix” to his friends, has assumed a variety of roles from trailblazer to philanthropist, mentor and motivational speaker. He is most passionate about being involved with youth groups such as the Sigma Beta Club through Fraternity Phi Beta Sigma Inc., of which he is a longtime member, S.O.S. (Save Our Sons), and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada.

Among Taylor’s proudest accomplishments of 2016 was receiving the Empowerment Award from Victory Baptist Church, recognizing him as a positive figure in his community. “It is giving back to the same community that got me where I’m at today.”

In 2017, Taylor says he plans on going back to college and taking courses in political science “so I can be knowledgeable about politics. My future goal is running for mayor of North Las Vegas.” In business, he plans on opening another barber shop “and hopefully another tattoo shop with the same name as my previous one, Tatted Up Tattoo Studio.”

Taylor credits his parents, Alvin and Levette Taylor, and siblings with guiding him toward the road to success. “Not only have they been supportive my entire life, but they have invested in any goals and dreams I had. My parents let me know at a young age the importance of being a leader, and that there are no ceilings when it comes to your dreams.”

Taylor’s message in unequivocal. “You must believe in yourself. Other people will never invest in your dreams if they see you don’t. The only difference between goals and dreams is that goals actually have a plan.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Romain Thievin

Co-founder

Exotics Racing

■ Age: 37

Romain Thievin

Romain Thievin

Romain Thievin is a one-time television host and stunt driver who appeared in more than 100 movies and earned the Hollywood Taurus World Stunt Award for Best Work with a Vehicle for “The Bourne Identity.” His motto is, “If I can dream it, then I can make it.”

Thievin, a vice champion of Euro NASCAR, is also the co-founder of both Exotics Racing and the EXR Series, as well as a race car driver, father and husband. If that were not enough, by the end of 2017 he and his wife will have launched a cosmetics business.

“Ambition and determination have always been my two mottos,” Thievin said. “I have never been afraid to take the lead and ‘get my hands dirty’ to achieve my goals.”

His greatest accomplishment in 2016 was launching the first season of the EXR Series. “Indeed, it was a personal project that I created and supported throughout the year to make motorsport accessible to all levels, and to give access to anyone who has dreamed of it.”

Thievin hopes to continue the expansion of the Exotics Racing Group, now beginning its eighth year as the Ultimate Driving Experience in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. “Also, I am developing the second season of the EXR Racing Series, with an expanded schedule for Sprint and Endurance races.”

Thievin urged those who are early in their careers to “evaluate what you wish to accomplish, then create detailed plans and projections for a successful outcome. There is nothing that cannot be achieved with work and determination.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Patrick Wallace

Vice President and Assistant General Manager

Red Rock Resort

■ Age: 37

Patrick Wallace

Patrick Wallace

Patrick Wallace has devoted nearly two decades of his life to the local hospitality industry.

Originally from Chicago, Wallace visited Las Vegas in January 2000 and never left. Soon after, he began his hospitality career as a hotel front desk agent at the then newly opened Bellagio.

Wallace started with Station Casinos in June 2012 as the hotel manager of Red Rock Resort, then transferred to Sunset Station as the director of hotel operations. He then moved to Green Valley Ranch Resort in the same capacity before being promoted to his current position.

“At the beginning of 2016, I had the privilege of being part of an amazing hotel renovation at Green Valley Ranch Resort,” Wallace said. “Although it was a rigorous project, it was extremely challenging. It’s really rewarding now to see the beautiful end result. In July, I was promoted to my current role, which was a very humbling and exciting time for me and my family.”

Wallace said he strives every day to keep up with his “quick-moving” 13-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, “yet at times it seems impossible. I will continue to improve my work-life balance.”

Wallace is convinced that ambition, dedication, building relationships and taking chances “are all things that have helped me accomplish my professional goals. I have been very fortunate to work for great leaders who helped lead me down the right path. And on occasion, they’ve been the ones to talk me through tough situations.”

— Howard Riell

•••

Armen Yemenidjian

CEO

Essence Cannabis Dispensary

■ Age: 31

Armen Yemenidjian

Armen Yemenidjian

As CEO of fully integrated medical cannabis operation Essence Cannabis Dispensary, Armen Yemenidjian admits he was initially skeptical of medicinal marijuana.

Then he did his homework and had an about face.

“I did a lot of research into the medicinal cannabis market and the medical benefits of medicinal cannabis and how it filled gaps that conventional Western medicine couldn’t fill,” said Yemenidjian, who previously served as vice president of casino marketing and operations at Tropicana Las Vegas and holds a degree in business from USC.

Essence launched its first Las Vegas dispensary on West Tropicana Avenue in February 2016 with a Henderson location on East Sunset Road and a dispensary on South Las Vegas Boulevard — the only one of its kind on the Strip — opening the following month.

A year later, business is brisk, with the possibility of mushrooming growth on the horizon as recreational marijuana comes online in Nevada.

“There are only 25,000 medical marijuana patients registered in the state, but we have the potential to reach 3 million Nevada residents and 44 million visitors, so we’re excited about the potential for a high amount of growth in the cannabis industry,” said Yemenidjian, who also co-owns Desert Grown Farms.

— Danielle Birkin

•••

Judah Zakalik, Esq.

Founding Partner

Peters and Associates

■ Age: 39

Judah Zakalik

Judah Zakalik

Judah Zakalik has disrupted the legal profession in Southern Nevada, transforming the way it is viewed in Las Vegas because of his innovative methods of educating the public.

Zakalik has created a marketing powerhouse because of the ecosystem he has built in social media, commercials, billboards, radio and print. One is hard-pressed to drive any distance without seeing or hearing one of his commercials. Thus, he has made the legal profession fun and engaging for all generations.

“The greatest professional accomplish of 2016 for Peters and Associates was the opportunity to partner with local TV, radio and print outlets to provide free information to the public on areas of law that they were interested in,” Zakalik said. “Specifically, my partner and I appeared on various news broadcasts, radio shows and wrote stories for weekly news magazines where we answered questions asked from the public directly. I view it as a great accomplishment because we were able to give the local Las Vegas community access to free legal advice, which empowers them to make wise decisions and protect themselves from those that may wish to take advantage of them.”

For 2017, Zakalik said his personal goal as one of the "Panda Guys" is to "further educate the public as to their basic legal rights by speaking to local youth and answering their questions about finances, how to deal with law enforcement encounters and using credit wisely.”

— Howard Riell

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