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­Holly Tiger installed as board president

Holly Tiger is sworn in as president of Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. by tribal secretary LaVonne Rose on Aug. 28 in Hollywood. (Calvin Tiger)

HOLLYWOOD – The Seminole Tribe installed Holly Tiger as its new president Aug. 28. She is the first woman in the role. The ceremony took place in the auditorium at tribal headquarters on the Hollywood Reservation in front of current and former tribal leaders and a host of others in the tribal community.

Tiger is president of the tribe’s business arm – Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. (STOFI). As such, she also serves as vice chairwoman of Tribal Council.

“Our tribe has had a long, storied history with strong matriarchs and we have another one here,” Brian Zepeda, Naples liaison and master of ceremonies, said at the start of the ceremony. LaVonne Rose, tribal secretary, then installed President Tiger as members of her family stood at the bottom of the stage and looked on.

“Being the first woman as president, that’s not lost on me. I think it’s a great milestone for the tribe,” President Tiger said. “It’s important to me that we recognize it, but it’s also important to know that the work is the same whether you’re male or female, and our job now is to keep moving forward and do the best that we can for the tribe.”

President Tiger won a special election Aug. 10 to fill a position left vacant by the unexpected death of James Holt II, who died June 8 at 44, just three days after he was inaugurated as president. She earned 266 votes in a four-person race that included former President Mitchell Cypress (220 votes), former Brighton Board Rep. Helene Buster (178 votes) and former Trial Court Chief Judge Moses B. Osceola (91 votes).

President Tiger joins Hollywood Board Rep. Christine McCall, Big Cypress Board Rep. Nadine Bowers, and Brighton Board Rep. Bryan Arledge. Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. serves as board vice-president. STOFI is a section 17 federal corporation established in 1957 in which each enrolled tribal member is a shareholder.

“We didn’t get here on an easy note, but today we’re here to celebrate,” Rep. McCall said. “Our tribe is growing, and it’s exciting to see what we’re going to be able to accomplish. The board is more educated than ever and has a healthy financial position. We’re all one tribe and one family and I’m very excited to work with Holly.”

From Hollywood, President Tiger has many years of experience working for the tribe. She was a liaison for former President Richard Bowers and was the tribe’s housing director. Tiger was also instrumental in the creation of the Native Learning Center in Hollywood and was its executive director. She earned a law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

“She’s already been in here, hitting the ground running,” Rep. Arledge said. “As soon as she was [elected] she came into the Brighton office and we were sitting there working the first day. I know she’s ready to go, she’s ambitious.”

On Tribal Council, President Tiger joins Chairman Osceola, Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola, Big Cypress Councilwoman Mariann Billie and Brighton Councilman Larry Howard.

“It’s been a journey. My heart and my love goes out to James Holt II. We’ll never forget that gentleman,” Councilman Howard said after congratulating President Tiger. “I’m looking forward to seeing what [the board] brings to the table for the corporate side and I’m looking forward to working with you on the council side.”

President Tiger thanked her family, friends and supporters, both past and present.

“I look around at a lot of young people in this room and I tell you, don’t give up. Everything comes with hard work, commitment and having a little bit of gumption. I encourage all of you to do that,” she said. “My goal is to lead with compassion, lead with empathy and love for your people, because that’s what’s going to get you through. That’s what’s going to make you shine.”

After being installed as president, Holly Tiger, center, is joined by, from left to right, Brighton Councilman Larry Howard, Big Cypress Councilwoman Mariann Billie, Big Cypress Board Rep. Nadine Bowers, Brighton Board Rep. Bryan Arledge and Hollywood Board Rep. Christine McCall. (Calvin Tiger)
President Holly Tiger, left, with Miss Florida Seminole Princess Thomlynn Billie and Hollywood Board Rep. Christine McCall. (Calvin Tiger)
With family and fellow board members watching, Holly Tiger is installed as president by tribal secretary LaVonne Rose. (Courtesy SMP)
Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at