Casino Del Sol dealt a winning hand to the community it serves during the COVID-19 pandemic. The culinary staff prepared and delivered more than 3,000 meals to healthcare workers at Tucson hospitals and to Pascua Yaqui Tribe public service departments.

“Supporting our local community, especially those on the front lines, during this uncertain and difficult time is of the utmost importance to us at Casino Del Sol,” says Kimberly Van Amburg, the CEO of Casino Del Sol. “We must all come together and do everything we can to help those who are making sacrifices for us. They are so busy caring for others, they don’t even have time to stop and grab lunch, so we brought lunch to them.”

Kimberly Van Amburg, the CEO of Casino Del Sol.

Van Amburg has led Casino Del Sol through a period of unprecedented growth — adding a 151-room hotel and significantly expanding its event space in the last year. Az Business talked with Van Amburg, one of Az Business magazine’s Most Influential Women of 2015.

Az Business: What would people who work with you say are your best qualities as a leader?

Kimberly Van Amburg: As the CEO of Casino Del Sol, it’s very important that I am a positive influence for the staff and customers. I’d like to think they’d say I’m positive, caring and accessible, my door is always open to anyone.

AB: Tell us about a tough day you had at work.

KVA: The toughest day of work I have ever had is the day we closed our operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t tough because we closed—it was tough because I could tell that our team members were afraid and looking for hope. We have the very best team members in the entire world, so I spent a good deal of time talking to people, listening to their concerns and reassuring them we would get through this — together.

AB: What have you learned in the last year that will help you become an ever better leader?

KVA: In times of uncertainty, people need a leader more than ever. They need someone to be transparent about what is happening and how it’s being handled from a business perspective. I learned that it is extremely important to continue to communicate throughout a crisis, not just when it happens.

AB: What advice would you give a young woman who aspires to become a leader in your industry?

KVA: I would say that a young woman starting her career in gaming has more opportunity than ever before. It’s important to be yourself and be confident in your decisions rather than trying to emulate how someone else would handle something. Trust your instincts. When I started in this business in the 1980s, it wasn’t common for a woman to be the CEO of a large company. Those roles generally went to men. Women were even expected to dress and act like a man to be successful. Thankfully, that is not the case any longer. There are lots of opportunities for women now.

AB: What accomplishment gives you the most pride?

KVA: I implemented an open-door policy at Casino Del Sol and it works. Team members — from managers to line level employees in many departments — know they can come to me and share what they are experiencing and that I appreciate their feedback.