CHAIRWOMAN – ERICA PINTO
Erica M. Pinto currently serves as Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village of California, one of the 13 tribes of the Kumeyaay Nation who trace their roots back 12,000 years in San Diego County, California. Her extensive executive experience gives her a sophisticated grasp on even the most complex aspects of tribal governance.
Ms. Pinto has been involved with the JIV Tribal Council since 1997, becoming a Council Member at the age of 22. Serving for more than 17 years on the Council, she was appointed Vice Chair of the Tribal Council in 2008. In 2015, she was the first woman elected Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village, an honor she proudly holds today.
Since becoming Chairwoman, Ms. Pinto has lead JIV through significant economic progress on their path to self-reliance. In April 2016, JIV signed an agreement with San Diego County that cleared the way for a world-class gaming facility to be constructed on their reservation. In August 2016, along with the Tribal Council amended the 1999 compact with California. In October 2016, Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego opened, creating nearly 1,000 permanent jobs for members of the Tribe and the surrounding region. As part of the Tribe’s commitment to self-reliance she was instrumental in negotiating and representing the Tribe with its local agreements that will provide more than $100 million public benefit and safety for the residents of San Diego County. She continues working to expand the Tribe’s land base and increase economic opportunities.
Ms. Pinto is committed to giving back to her community, to future generations of Tribal members, and to non-gaming Tribes who continue to struggle. Drawing on her family’s history of alcoholism, Ms. Pinto strives to make sure young people do not go down the path of substance abuse. She is co-founder of the Acorn to Oaks tribal program, which organizes activities focused on culture, youth development, health and fitness, and technology – all designed to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, as well as to promote education and family togetherness. She hopes to build pride in future tribal leaders, so they respect their native heritage.
Ms. Pinto’s leadership extends well beyond the JIV. She serves on the board of the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association. She is Vice-Chair of the Board of the Southern Indian Health Council and Chairwoman of the Personnel Committee. She is a Transportation Committee Advisory Board Member and co-chair of the Interagency Technical Working Group on Tribal Transportation Issues with the San Diego Association of Governments as well as Advisory Board Member for Native American Advisory Committee (NAAC). She serves on the San Diego International Film Festival Native American Advisory Board. In 2015, she received the Women in Leadership award from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Ms. Pinto grew up with her three brothers on the Jamul Indian Village reservation and Viejas reservation, where she witnessed the hardships and prejudice inflicting on her people. Her mother, who has been active in Tribal government for several decades, instilled in her the importance of respecting our ancestors and giving back to the Tribe, lessons she carries with her to this day.
In her free time, Ms. Pinto is passionate about travel, music, photography, exercising, reading and film. Her wild imagination inspires her to write, which she hopes to translate into film. Her creativity inspires her to cook and bake, as well as sampling new restaurants, as she has always loved bringing people together around food.