Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel's General Manager, Johnny Barrientoz,recently received a coveted Chairman's Leadership Award from Ernest L. Stevens Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association.

Chairman Stevens recognized Barrientoz among thousands in the casino industry field, “The Indian gaming industry has seen such phenomenal strides throughout the years. Today, we are the experts, and Johnny Barrientoz is one of the truest examples of that. His path from an entry-level position to General Manager of one of the greatest tribal gaming properties in Indian country should be showcased.”

Barrientoz was honored alongside Michael Hunter, Chairman of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians,, Knute Knudson and John Chamberlain, VP of Global Affairs and Distinguished Engineer for IGT Gaming, and three-time Indian Rodeo World Champion Faith Hoylen. Stevens also presented the NIGA Lifetime Achievement Award to comedian George Lopez.

A tribal member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Barrientoz began working in the governmental Youth Program Department and moved to the casino gaming division in 2005 as a front line Slot Attendant. His tenacity for learning and amiable personality helped him quickly advance to slot department supervisor, slot department manager and director of slots for both Leelanau Sands and Turtle Creek casinos.

Upon receiving his certification in gaming management through the University of Nevada, Barrientoz was promoted to general manager of Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel on January 15, 2019. He oversees 485 employees, a 56,000 square-foot gaming floor with over 1,000 slot machines and 30 table games, three restaurants, six bars including a newly opened Sports Bar, coffee shop and 131-room full-service hotel.

“I am sincerely grateful and humbled to receive such a coveted award, especially from someone I have always respected and admired,” remarked Barrientoz. “When Ernie (Stevens) asked me to come over to the NIGA booth, I was completely unaware of the awards presentation, and when I realized that I was the recipient of the Chairman's Award, I was speechless. I had no idea I was even being considered.”

“Johnny is the ideal example of a leader,” commented Michael Schrader, CEO for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Economic Development Corporation. “He is hard working, dedicated, and a true professional in all he does. His innate modesty and altruistic manner are apparent upon first impression, and have served him well at the helm of our largest casino. He addresses and knows every employee by name, and our guests find him approachable and trustworthy.”