J’can is the first minority director at top NYC casino
Westmoreland-born past student of Manning’s High School, Michelle Stoddart, is the first minority director of the Resorts World Casino New York City (RWNY), the only casino in New York City offering over 6,500 slots and electronic table games to 10 million guests annually.
Stoddart is vice-president (VP) of community development and public affairs at the company that generated over $3 billion for the State’s education system.
“My rise to the position of VP at RWNY took a long time and a lot of hard work. I had to put my life on hold for my work and though I am proud of my accomplishments, I would not advise everyone to do the same thing,” she confessed.
“Coming from ‘foreign’, being a woman and black; not understanding how racism worked” were important elements she had to navigate in her climb to the top of the corporate ladder. She, however, acknowledged that “Being a Jamaican helped” and it gave her the advantage she needed to succeed. It was that spirit in her that saw her refusing to quit.
“We don’t take no for an answer, and we always find a way to get what we want,” she said.
Still, Stoddart said she learned valuable life lessons along the journey, including “be direct, be flexible, say yes first and don’t give away credit for your work”.
Prior to joining the staff at RWNY, Stoddart was the director of marketing and tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) where she executed several projects that promoted and revitalised business in Queens County, New York. During her tenure there, she initiated and enhanced several significant projects that directly contributed to QEDC’s growth and prominence throughout the borough and beyond.
Her accomplishments include making Queens tourism digitally relevant by spearheading the renovation of DiscoverQueens.info, the first New York City county-based tourism website, which logged over two million visitors during its formative years. She also had success organising Queens Restaurant Week – a two-week event that promoted dining establishments in the area.
Through stellar marketing and strategic partnerships with companies such as CitiField, Delta Airlines, NYC & Company, Expedia and Irie Jam radio, WVIP, the loudest voice for the Jamaican/Caribbean diaspora, she helped to build the annual food festival from a 300-person event to more than 1,200 attendees over a six-year span.
In 2009, at CitiField (the home of the New York Mets), she coordinated Caribbean Day at the Mets vs Houston Astros baseball game, where reggae crooner Gramps Morgan of Grammy-winning Morgan Heritage delivered a sizzling pre-game performance that warmed the hearts of thousands of baseball fans.
“I am happy I was able to represent Jamaica, the Caribbean and all my reggae fans,” an elated Gramps Morgan declared moments after he left the mound.
A GOOD NEIGHBOUR
Prior to becoming vice-president at RWNY, Stoddart was a member of the executive team where she oversaw record-breaking attendance and revenue from the casino’s debut weekend in October 2011. As the company begins the challenge of expanding its footprint in the state, Stoddart now has the responsibility of keeping the communities, in which the properties reside, updated on development and being responsive to their feedback. By working directly with community leaders, her role highlights the brand’s mission to be a good neighbour in Queens, the city and State.
“My job is to be the face of the company to the community. My ideas of how to work with the community come from listening to their needs and long-term goals. Having worked at the Queens Economic Development Corp and within Queens Borough Hall enabled me to approach this job as a local and a part of the community,” she shared with The Gleaner.
Looking ahead, Stoddart said she has a lot more lofty goals to achieve.
“My bucket list got interrupted by COVID, so it’s still very long. I hope to travel to each continent, skydive and work on a project for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).”
Stoddart holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Baruch College in New York City. She serves on several boards, including the Boys and Girls of Metro Queens, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Botanical Gardens, the Jamaica YMCA and York College.
Before migrating to New York, USA, in 1991, Stoddart worked at the National Commercial Bank.