Directors and Management
Board of Directors
Stephen Szapor, Jr.
Stephen Szapor has over thirty-eight years of operational, financial management and consulting and advisory experience in the gaming, leisure and hospitality industries. He is currently a Managing Partner at Prospect Growth Partners for which he provides advisory and consulting services to primarily Native American tribes in the areas of Economic Diversification Strategies, Executive Leadership Training and Project Development.
Stephen’s professional experience includes his work as Founder, President and Senior Partner of the Innovation Group, a leading hospitality, tourism, racing and gaming industry consulting company. His professional experience also includes sixteen years of work as President, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for several public companies engaged in leisure, hospitality and casino operations. His professional affiliations include service on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Gaming & Entertainment Company, the Board of Directors of the Sahara Gaming Corporation, and the Hollywood Casino Corporation.
Stephen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Villanova University. His certifications include a Certified Public Account licensure (now inactive), a Key Gaming License/Finding of Suitability from the States of New Jersey, Mississippi, Nevada and Colorado, and service as a former Chairman of the Colorado Tourism Office Board.
Ron Solimon retired as Director of the Center for Lifelong Education (“CLE”) at the Institute of American Indian Arts (“IAIA”) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to joining the President’s Cabinet at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he served as the Executive Director of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Inc., and President & CEO of Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc., and Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Inc. Ron is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna. He also has paternal bloodlines at the Pueblo of Zuni. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from New Mexico State University, College of Business, and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of New Mexico, School of Law. Ron’s service includes the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Inc., Native American Professional Parent Resources, Inc., Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group, Inc., Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Board of Trustees, Albuquerque Community Foundation, UNM Health Science Center, U.S Travel Association Board of Directors and the Tourism Association of New Mexico (now known as the “New Mexico Hospitality Association”). Ron was elected to the New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame in 2013.
Tom Aro recently retired from an extensive career of more than forty years in the hospitality and gaming industry during which time he held executive positions in finance, development and operations. Positions included serving on the Finance Committee of the Del Webb Corporation, general management responsibilities for operations at several gaming and non-gaming properties, and served as Senior Operations Director during the development of major gaming projects in Reno, Atlantic City, Mississippi and New York.
Since his retirement, Mr. Aro has remained active in his community serving on several boards including the alumni board of the Mesabi Range College, Care Partners, a local non-profit organization assisting cancer victims and their families, president of a condominium board in Sanibel, Florida, and holding the elected position of Township Supervisor for his home community.
Mr. Aro holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Ethel J. Abeita
Ethel Abeita’s professional legal experience spans more than thirty years and includes service as follows: Government Affairs Attorney Director and In-House Attorney for the Pueblo of Laguna; Office of the Special Trustee Director of the Office of Trust Records, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Deputy Regional Director (Southwest Regional Office); Office of the Solicitor – Assistant Regional Solicitor (Southwest Region) for the Department of the Interior; Assistant Regional Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Albuquerque, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Deputy Director, Native American Rights Fund; Realty Specialist for the BIA Statute of Limitations Program; and Managing and Staff Attorney for Indian Pueblo Legal Services, Laguna, NM.
Ethel’s professional experience has also included lobbying Congress on behalf of Indian tribes on proposed settlement of water rights claims and working with congressional staff on legislation for Montana tribes and the Pueblo of Laguna.
Ethel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Education from San Jose State University in San Jose, California and a Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Thomas K. Land
Thomas Land is a Certified Public Accountant with over 35 years of experience and service as Chief Financial Officer, finance executive and board director for various businesses. His experience includes promoting business growth and leading synergistic management and analysis of multi-million dollar companies for family offices with interests in banking, real estate, beverages, healthcare staffing, gaming and entertainment and startup technology ventures. His broad-based experience also includes: strategic planning, forecasting, risk management and analysis due diligence, forecasting, SEC reporting, financial statements, audits, negotiation, global tax and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and internal controls, banking and private equity relations, fiduciary oversight and board experience.
From approximately 1994 through the present, Mr. Land has served in various executive management capacities for the following companies: Maloof Companies, Las Vegas, NV; Flynn Gallagher & Associates, Las Vegas, NV; Zoe Holding Company, Phoenix, AZ; Powers Steel & Wire Products, Inc., Phoenix, AZ; Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, NV; and the Sahara Gaming Corporation, Las Vegas, NV. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the following companies, community service organizations, and educational institutions: Zoe Holding Company, Inc., York County Lumber Corporation, Alexa’s Angels, Villanova Business School, Nevada Resort Association, National Junior Basketball and the Bank of Nevada, NYSE:WAL.
Mr. Land received a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy degree in 1982 from Villanova University in Pennslyvania, and is a member of the Institutes of Certified Public Accountants in Pennslyvania and Nevada. Mr. Land currently resides with his wife Trish in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Richard J. Berry
Richard Berry has been integrally involved in construction and federal contracting since the mid-1980s. He has worked to create successful outcomes for several companies, including his family business, growing them from approximately $2 million per year to $20 million per year.
Mr. Berry served in public office form 2006-2009 as a two-term Representative in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Mr. Berry also served as Mayor of the City of Albuquerque from 2009-2017. One of his biggest accomplishments as Mayor includes guiding the city through a recession while maintaining an AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s. Through his work he was able to create taxpayer savings exceeding $30 million, much of which is reoccurring. As Mayor, Mr. Berry served in a CEO role, supervising nearly 6,000 people with an annual budget approaching a billion dollars. He has a proven ability to bring diverse groups of people together to work out solutions to some of the most persistent and complex urban challenges of the current day and is known for an innovative and non-partisan approach to government.
Throughout his professional work and public service, Mr. Berry has received numerous awards and participated in several leadership role activities, including a Senior Fellowship with the Yale CEO Leadership Institute, various Mayor Advisor leadership activities, Board of Directors of Boy Scouts of America – Great Southwest Council, Top 25 Innovations in Government and Top 15 Bold Urban Policies awards and Local Leadership Award – Voices for National Service, 2016.
Mr. Berry holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Administration degree from the University of New Mexico.
Michael D. Hall
Michael D. Hall graduated from Claremont Men’s College in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and Biology. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Finance and Statistics from Pepperdine University in 1986. Mr. Hall’s educational accomplishments include certifications from the Society of Tribologists and Lubrications Engineers (STLE), the Certified Lubrications Specialist (CLS), the National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI), and the Certified Lubricating Grease Specialist (CLGS).
Mr. Hall has been employed with Shell Oil Company since 1981 and will be retiring soon. During his years with Shell Oil, Mr. Hall’s primary experience and expertise has been in the areas of plant operations and sales and overseeing tanker fleets. His professional experience includes service on the following Boards of Directors: the Food Bank of the Rockies (2006-2014), as Vice-President of Development responsible for corporate fundraising; the National Sports Center for the Disabled (2002-2006), serving as Member at Large, responsible for corporate scholarships for disabled sports programs; and the Colorado Ballet, serving as Vice-President responsible for fundraising over $7,000,000 annually.
Mr. Hall brings much needed knowledge and expertise to the LDC Board of the fuel industry, and fuel operations and sales, which is an integral and significant part of LDC operations.
President and Chief Executive Officer, LDC
Ms. Velasquez is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna. She possesses 20 years of general counsel experience representing tribal governments, tribal gaming businesses, and tribal gaming regulatory authorities. She serves or has served as a Chair, Co-Chair, or Member on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Laguna Gaming Control Board/Tribal Gaming Regulatory Authority, Laguna Construction Company, UNM Sandoval County Regional Medical Center, Albuquerque Indian School District Commission, and the All Pueblo Council of Governors-Legislative Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, a Master’s in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate, all from the University of New Mexico.
Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, LDC
Mr. Perkins brings more than 30 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry including tenures in both native and commercial gaming establishments. His most recent position was General Manager of Route 66 Casino Hotel. Mr. Perkins is a highly decorated veteran who served our country in the United States Air Force for 20 years before retiring in 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and an Associate’s Degree in Recreation Management from the Community College of the Air Force.
Chief Financial Officer, LDC
Mr. Loveland Is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with an accounting career spanning more than 15 years concentrated on serving tribal governments and casinos. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Robert O. Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Mr. Loveland oversees the financial reporting of LDC’s full portfolio of companies and provides essential strategic guidance on business opportunities and acquisitions aimed at diversifying and growing the company.
Corporate Director, Sales and Marketing, LDC
Mr. Sayre has over twenty-five years of senior executive level management experience in sales and marketing in casino, resort and entertainment industries. Mr. Sayre majored in journalism at California State University at Long Beach and completed the executive education program in marketing management at Stanford University.
Corporate Director, Food & Beverage Operations, LDC
Mr. Brasil has over twenty-five years of management experience. Prior to working at LDC, Mr. Brasil worked at Grand Casino Mille Lacs where he was Vice President of Food & Beverage Operations. Jorge’s passion for working in the hospitality industry began with the start of his own catering company Bon Vivant in 1986.
Corporate Director, IT, LDC
Mr. Khader has been an employee of Laguna Development Corporation since 2002, and is currently the Chief Information Officer. He has over 20 years of experience and has overseen the growth of the technology environment at LDC from just a single server to over 250 servers and 300 virtual desktops. Under Mr. Khader’s leadership, LDC has been among the first and largest deployments in New Mexico of VoIP, synchronous multi-site storage redundancy, network micro-segmentation, large-scale server and desktop virtualization, IP-based hotel TV system, cross-site Bingo simulcast, and network security spanning layer 2 through layer 7. LDC’s regulatory agency recently engaged an expert security firm to perform an internal penetration test. Their conclusion remarked, “The network security at the Route 66 and Dancing Eagle Casinos is amongst the best of the 150+ casinos GLI has visited.”
Corporate Director of Human Resources, LDC
Ms. Hernandez is a dynamic, proactive and people-driven professional with more than 20 years’ management experience. Over half of her career has been in gaming and hospitality. Her broad experience includes all areas of expertise in Human Resources. She provides vital support, guidance, and leadership to senior management in the development and implementation of strategies that achieve measurable business results. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Robert O. Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico with a concentration in Human Resource Management and Organizational Development. Mrs. Hernandez has been with LDC since 2006.
General Manager, Route 66 Casino Hotel
Mr. Fox has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. He graduated from the University of Nevada and has worked in gaming jurisdictions in Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Mr. Fox has experience in casino leadership, start-ups and acquisitions for Native American and commercial organizations. Mr. Fox has been with LDC since 2015.
General Manager, Dancing Eagle Casino
Mr. Billbrough has over 32 years in the hospitality industry, has been involved in the casino industry since 1997, and was a consultant at Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut. He graduated with the President’s Award from Widener University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in Wilmington, Delaware. He has held a Certified Hotel Administrator from the American Hotel & Lodging Association since January 2003. Mr. Billbrough has been with LDC since 2007.