Israel Stone, Director of Organizational Development, Little River Casino Resort

Israel Stone is always looking for new challenges and opportunities for not only himself, but the staff at Little River Casino Resort. As the director of organizational development, Stone has been a driving force in the creation and implementation of the Sevens training program, which seeks to identify and cultivate leadership from within.

The Sevens program draws from the traditional “Seven Grandfathers” teachings, laying the foundation for the training and leadership program at Little River Casino Resort. Sevens has been a resounding success within the organization, providing individuals with the skills and opportunities to learn and grow within the organization. As Stone notes, “Given the right training and education, people can overcome life circumstances and rise to success.”

Success is no stranger to Stone; at 22, he became a training and building sergeant within the criminal justice field. Stone does not shy away from an opportunity to meet a new challenge head on; he worked hard to earn the respect of his team, leading a department that included people twice his age.

“Never pass on an opportunity. Each opportunity, no matter how challenging, is an opportunity to increase your value with your employer,” he says.

His path to Little River began when he was elected to serve a four-year term as a tribal councilor and appointed to the business board/board of directors for Little River. During this time, he oversaw a $26 million hotel and gaming floor expansion and a $52 million amenities expansion as a member of the construction management team. Since then, he has played various roles in casino operations, gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the gaming industry.

Stone has had a number of mentors over his career, first and foremost his father, a decorated U.S. Marine who taught his children the importance of working hard and having a purpose-driven life. Being raised to have such strong work ethic set Stone up with the foundation he needed to be successful.

In the gaming industry, he points to the general manager of Little River Casino, Wendell Long, and chairwoman of the board of directors, Elaine Porter. Stone says their vision to create a training program focused on growing talent within the community and Little River provided him with the springboard to create the Sevens program.

Based on the success the program has seen within Little River Casino Resort, Stone is looking to expand the program to other casinos throughout the country.

“Too many times, companies look for ways to improve their brand or relevancy in the market and overlook the most important resource, their employees,” he says. 

The Sevens program focuses on building employees from within to provide the best experience to their patrons.