Paxton Myers

WINNING NUMBERS

A casino VP is recognized as a top Native American young professional

By KEITH BRENTON

The ninth month of 2012 will certainly rank as a “September to remember” for Paxton Myers ’00. That’s when Myers became vice president of casino marketing at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel and was chosen by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development as one of the top Native American professionals under the age of 40 – both in the same month.

Myers, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, previously lived for four years in Washington, D.C., and held the positions of policy adviser for U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, D-Mich., and then chief of staff for the chairwoman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, Tracie Stevens.

“You can’t put a dollar amount on the value of those experiences,” Myers said. “I got to meet Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. The first time you stand on the floor of the U.S. Congress and hear your boss read words you’ve written into the Congressional Record … it blows you away.”

Before his career move to Washington, Myers served at Harrah’s Cherokee in the Cherokee Development Program and later as casino marketing manager. “In the gaming industry, ‘marketing’ doesn’t necessarily mean just advertising or public relations,” Myers said. “As vice president of marketing now, I supervise the VIP side of casino operations – calling guests, coordinating charter flights and buses, hosting and developing higher-end players, what we call ‘back-of-house’ operations. I’m a people person. I like to be in touch with our guests.”

His return to Harrah’s Cherokee with broadened career experience has been welcome. “Paxton’s past experiences at the property, along with his roles in public offices over the past 10 years, have positioned him well for this critical leadership role at Harrah’s Cherokee,” said R. Scott Barber, regional president of Mid-South Operations at Caesars Entertainment. “Paxton is a well-rounded, well-respected leader with a broad network formed within the casino industry, as well as U.S. and tribal governmental agencies and related associations.”

Prior to his original tenure at Harrah’s Cherokee, Myers served as the chief of staff and governmental affairs liaison for the Eastern Band of the Cherokees’ Principal Chief Michell Hicks ’87 for seven years, where he worked with the state and local governments in matters related to tribal gaming.

“Paxton Myers epitomizes the dream of tribal leadership – when leaders envisioned our young people as educated and dedicated to the well-being of our tribe,” Hicks said. “Paxton has worked to develop the skills necessary to make our tribe and our tribal enterprises successful. His dedication to our people will lead us in the next years stronger and better equipped to face our challenges.”

Myers also was cited as one of the top 25 people to watch in 2010 by Global Gaming magazine, and more recently was honored early this year by the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. as one of the four USET members chosen in September as a “Top 40 under 40” by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

Brandon Stephens ’06, USET development director, has known Myers since they were in elementary school in Jackson County. “During our friendship and professional careers, Paxton’s goal is to ensure his family achieves a higher standard of living and individuals in that circle are empowered,” said Stephens.  “Family for Paxton includes his blood kin and the overall Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Indian Country, and mountain residents of Western North Carolina. His roots run deep.”

The “Native American 40 Under 40” award winners are young American Indian professionals from across the nation who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication to achieve impressive and significant contributions in their businesses and communities, and to Indian Country.

“I’m not into awards or recognitions,” Myers said. “But I do feel privileged to be acknowledged.”

Stephens feels that Myers’ humility and human touch are largely responsible for these recognitions. “What makes him special is that he always works to understand the people he serves before he exerts his understanding, philosophies and point of view – which more leaders need to practice,” he said. “I believe people in the mountains and inside the beltway in Washington, D.C., recognize that quality in him and have a tremendous confidence with his ability and work ethic. In Indian Country, you may hear American Indians refer to the ‘medicine’ someone carries. Paxton’s medicine is empowerment.”