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Tribe spreads word about TCD at G2E

From left to right are Garrett Thomas, Rhett A. Tiger, Jailyn Mowatt and Kyla Whitlow (Mohawk). The four led a panel session about the TCD program. (Courtesy photo)

The Seminole Tribe’s Tribal Career Development (TCD) program was the focus of a panel session at the G2E Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas in early October. The gambling industry tradeshow attracts thousands of attendees that work in tribal and nontribal gaming enterprises.

TCD has been a tribal program for 20 years. It was designed to give tribal members a path into management and executive positions at Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming properties based on specific interests. For example, one of the tribe’s most successful TCD graduates is Edward Aguilar. He graduated from the program in 2015 and eventually became general manager of the Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, a position he still holds.

Three tribal members currently in the program – Jailyn Mowatt, Garrett Thomas and Rhett A. Tiger – shared their experiences in Las Vegas with almost 200 people who attended the “Tribal Leadership Development Programs: Building on Greatness” panel. The three also discussed the structure and success of the program for those across Indian Country who might wish to start or fine-tune similar initiatives in their own communities.

“The crowd in the ballroom was captivated by the experiences and motivations of the tribal team members in exploring and continuing to develop within the Tribal Career Development program,” Kyla Whitlow (Mohawk), the TCD director and panel moderator, said in an email to the Tribune after the event. “The passion and vulnerability of the stories shared was incredibly impactful and each person during the Q&A complimented [them] on their ability to connect and share.”

More than 100 tribal members have enrolled in TCD since its inception, and Whitlow said interest is on the rise. She said there are 20 tribal members currently in the program and five more who are being enrolled. Whitlow, who has been director since May, said TCD became more customizable two years ago to make it more accessible.

The program is divided into three tracks – emerging leaders (for those who ultimately want an executive position), career (for those who know what department they want to be a part of), and expert (for those seeking middle management positions in any department). Each track has prerequisites.

“The vein that runs through all [the tracks] is it’s all about leadership, leaders of self, leaders of others and leaders of leaders,” Whitlow said. “The really great thing about this program is that it’s unique to the gaming community and the tribal gaming community.”

‘Big picture’

Thomas, who is in the emerging leaders track, said the program showed him how the different gaming departments work together. He’s been part of the program for four years and has helped open Hard Rock properties in Indiana, Ohio and New York City.

“At every property I had different roles,” Thomas, who is from the Brighton Reservation, said prior to the conference. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on gaming, food and beverage, hotel-resort – you get to learn the experience and see the big picture.”

Tiger, from the Hollywood Reservation, joined the program in July 2023 and is also in the emerging leaders track. He said TCD has given him a foothold toward his goal of being president of a gaming property.

“The program has been fantastic so far, I would recommend it,” he said prior to the conference. “It’s given me a new excitement that I’ve never really had for working.”

Mowatt, also from Hollywood, has been in the program for about a year in the career track, with an interest in special events. She learned promotions, advertising and marketing at the Seminole Classic Casino and now works at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood.

G2E ran from Oct. 9 to Oct. 12 at the Venetian Convention & Expo Center. The TCD panel took place Oct. 11. More is available at

From left to right are TCD participants Chloe Smith, Michael Cantu, Stephen Tiger, Kashane Tiger, Garrett Thomas, Rhett A. Tiger, Jailyn Mowatt, Kyla Whitlow, Aaron Tommie and Joseph Hughes. Whitlow (Mohawk) is the TCD director. (Courtesy photo)
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