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Lean On Me

GGW has created a peer support network to encourage the advancement of women in gaming.

Lean On Me

Have you ever wished that you had your own personal board of directors to provide guidance and advice in order to expand your influence and help boost your resume?

Mentors and sponsors are critical components of building the strong foundation of a successful career, but there are some issues that are better discussed with peers at similar stages in life or who have shared goals. Research has shown that women gain confidence and are able to learn and accomplish more in small groups, and the latest initiative of Global Gaming Women is designed to provide a peer support network for women in the gaming industry.

Lean In Circles grew out of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s 2010 TEDTalk “Too Few Women Leaders.” Her inpiring message about the ways that women are both held back and hold themselves back resonated with women globally, and led to Sandberg’s best-selling book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead and the Lean In Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing women with inspiration and the support to reach their goals. The Lean In website ( highlights three primary objectives: establishing an active support community; providing online educational opportunities; and support for Lean In Circles—small groups of women who meet regularly to “encourage and support each other in an atmosphere of confidentiality and trust.”

There are currently more than 30,000 Circles in 154 countries, and the number grows every day. The Circles can be whatever works for the members, from an informal gathering at lunch to a virtual meeting with Circle members from around the globe. And among the newest Circles are the 11 that are being launched by Global Gaming Women that are specific to the gaming industry and will provide women in gaming with opportunities to learn, grow their careers and build strategic relationships.

The discussions at Circles vary widely, but generally include topics such as effective workplace communication, personal branding, work-life balance and strategies for personal growth. According to the Lean In Foundation, 85 percent of Circle members credit their participation for positive change in their life and the willingness to take on a new challenge or opportunity as a result of lessons learned while leaning in.

The Global Gaming Women Lean In program is being co-chaired by two GGW Board members who are passionate about how the power of peer mentoring positively influenced their careers—Eileen Moore, regional president of Caesars Entertainment Corporation; and Holly Gagnon, CEO of Chumash Enterprises for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Both women received significant awards for their professional accomplishments in 2016—Moore was recently named Executive of the Year by the Silver State Awards, and earlier in the year, Gagnon was recognized as Executive of the Year by the Native American Finance Officers Association.

“It’s important to recognize that Circles provide a safe environment to learn, listen and share experiences in an absolutely confidential environment,” Gagnon explains. “Circle members have the opportunity to share the most important things in a group of professionals made up of true peers who provide mutual support.”

In keeping with the Global Gaming Women commitment to regional programming, the GGW Lean In Circles have a target launch date of early 2017, and will be located across the United States, with Circles in Las Vegas, the Midwest and East Coast, and one Virtual Circle with participants across the country who will meet online and through conference calls. Consistent with nearly all GGW programming, participation in the Circles is free, and GGW will also pay for the training for Circle members selected as moderators.

The addition of new GGW Lean In Circles will be based on demand, but is anticipated to occur on an annual basis, and Circle leaders will have the ability to add new members as space allows. Interested participants should visit the GGW website for more information on Lean In Circles and all other educational programming and events at

“Participating in my own Circle and helping to launch 11 new Circles has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career in gaming,” Moore observes. “I have seen tremendous growth in myself and other women leaders through this peer mentoring process, and it has been truly empowering. On behalf of Global Gaming Women, Holly and I are looking forward to bringing this important initiative to the gaming industry.”

Virginia McDowell retired as president and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016, after a 35-year career in the gaming industry. She currently serves as president and board chair of Global Gaming Women.

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