Supporting Females in the Workplace

United Women PhotoQ&A with the United Women of Tribal Gaming

Last week we caught up with Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Magazine Board Member and Chairwoman & Co-Founder of the United Women of Tribal Gaming, Pamela Shaw. On Thursday, December 5, they held their Quarterly Meeting & Holiday Mixer at The Pearl District Building.

This group was founded this past July by Shaw, Margo Gray, and Sonya Nevaquaya with the specific mission of supporting women at all levels of their career, either working within a Tribal casino company or as a vendor/partner who services Tribal casinos in some way.

Pam, what compelled you, Margo and Sonya to create United Women of Tribal Gaming (UWTG)?

Although our industry continues to evolve, the three of us have been involved in Tribal Gaming for over 50 years combined, during a time when women have been underrepresented, perhaps. We have experience on the vendor side, frontline, and all levels of casino executive operations management. We have all been in the position many times of being the “only female in the room,” and most certainly the only Native woman in the room.

We feel strongly that women, in particular, thrive when united and certainly can and should support each other in a way that has not always been apparent in Tribal Gaming. We are Tribal gaming professionals supporting other Tribal gaming professionals. As one of the few female CEOs in Tribal gaming at that time, I felt a responsibility to help other women be the best they can be in our industry. There is so much opportunity and sometimes we just need to be reminded that we can do it. The fellowship that this organization has provided has been so uplifting and fun!

Sonya Nevaquaya, UWTG Treasurer & Co-Founder, what are the goals and mission of the group?

We are about educating women at all levels in gaming where we can be a resource of knowledge, experience, and inspiring women who learn from each other through networking at any of our UWTG events.

Our mission is to provide all women in Tribal Gaming a network to inspire professional growth, enhance leadership skills, and increase business acumen and readiness across the broad spectrum of Tribal Gaming. We, the United Women of Tribal Gaming, stand together to protect and advocate for our industry.

Who are some of your current members?

We have been thrilled to see the support from those in Tribal Gaming all across the US! Currently, our primary method of communicating with others in Tribal gaming is our Facebook page. When you look at the number of followers we garnered in a relatively short period of time, it’s encouraging and tells us that we are on the right track.

Who are some of your supporters?

I think that folks would be interested to know that some of our greatest advocates have been men. Early on, some of our strongest support as far as resources have been from some really awesome companies like Castle Hill Gaming and Show Nation. We are a new organization and continue to define and focus our goals and mission.

How often will you hold meetings?

Currently, we plan to have a meeting each quarter. Our next meeting will be at the NIGA Conference in March, where we look forward to interacting with women in Tribal Gaming from Nations across the country.

Margo Gray, UWTG Vice-Chair, what would you like our audience to know?

We are about protecting the Tribal Gaming industry, leadership training, and empowerment.

UWTG is an inclusive organization and want to be what each of us needed early on in our careers. We want women who are performing at the highest levels of management to women who are just starting their careers. Women supporting other women! Each of us have been so impacted by those who came before us and we want to facilitate encouragement and support for all women in Tribal gaming.

Tell us about your recent recognition

We officially launched the United Women of Tribal Gaming at the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association’s annual conference and trade show in July of this year. We were so honored to receive the Chairman’s Leadership Award from Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. What could be more of a confirmation of our organization’s mission than to have support from NIGA and Chairman Stevens.

For more information on United Women of Tribal Gaming, please visit United Women of Tribal Gaming’s Facebook page or email There is no fee to join and it is open to all levels; the only requirement is that you work in or around the Tribal gaming industry. They will soon have a website as well!