Kenneth Kahn, Chairman, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

Kenneth Kahn, Chairman
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

Chumash Casino Resort – Santa Ynez, CA

CHALLENGES/REWARDS: In today’s climate, we all face the challenge of being mindful of the environment and doing what we can in our business practices to reduce our footprint. This year, it’s been rewarding to be recognized for our conservation efforts by earning LEED Silver Certification for our Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center, which will open later this year. Our environmentally sound design, construction and operational practices qualified us for the distinction from the U.S. Green Building Council. As the original stewards of the land, our tribe is proud to achieve LEED Silver and become one of just two Native American museums in the U.S. that have achieved that distinction. In July, Santa Barbara County also named our Chumash Casino Resort a “Green Innovator” for diverting more than 90 percent of our waste stream from local landfills through recycling programs and community partnerships.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: Our CEO, John Elliott, has made leadership development a priority, devoting time and resources to help polish our leaders and build a thriving business culture. We invest in training and development for our team members and have an extensive executive leadership training program, with measurement using 360-degree feedback from supervisors, peers and subordinates. The program, called The Leadership Challenge, assesses an individual’s leadership skills against five leadership practices: Inspire a Shared Vision, Model the Way, Encourage the Heart, Challenge the Process, and Enable Others to Act. All our team members are trained continuously on our organization’s core values of respect, accountability, integrity, customer care and continuous improvement, and we measure their performance against those values. Our leadership team also receives yearly performance appraisals based on a SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely) goal-setting framework. All of this helps us remain competitive and maintain a positive work experience for our team members through quality leadership practices.

FUTURE PROJECTS/INITIATIVES: Our most important upcoming project will be our Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center, which is slated to open later this year. This has been a project in the making since the 1970’s, when a traditional ‘Ap (a dome-shaped dwelling made with tule reeds) was erected on our reservation to showcase significant cultural objects. That was the start of our tribe’s collective dream – to one day have a museum dedicated to our history and our heritage that would inform the local community and visitors from afar about the first people of our area. Fifty years later, we are proudly in the final stages of completing the 14,000 sq. ft. facility and its 3.5-acre park. The museum will showcase portions of our tribe’s collection of over 20,000 cultural objects, offer educational programs and share the history and culture of our tribe through the stories and traditions that were passed down from our ancestors. We are eagerly anticipating the day when we open those doors for the first time.