Mohegan pick first female chairwoman in tribal history

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By Susan Haigh
Hartford, Connecticut (AP) 10-09

The Mohegans’ governing body on Oct. 5 elevated its vice chairwoman to the Connecticut tribe’s top post, making her the first female leader in tribal history.

Lynn Malerba was selected chairwoman by her peers on the nine-member tribal council, about a month after tribal members elected her to the council. She replaces Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, who will serve as vice chairman.

Malerba, 56, a former critical care nurse, said although she is the tribe’s first female leader, women have always played key roles in the Mohegans’ history. Tribe members have always consulted and relied upon Mohegan women for guidance, regardless of whether they had formal leadership roles, she said.

“Because of them, that’s why I’m in this seat today,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Malerba, vice chairwoman for the past four years, takes on her new role during a challenging time for the Mohegans, owners of the Mohegan Sun Casino, one of the country’s largest tribal casinos. With the national economic downturn, gambling revenues have fallen, prompting the tribe last year to halt plans to continue a major expansion project.

Malerba said the decision was the right one for the tribe and its employees. Nearly 10,000 people work at the casino.

 

“That’s what made the difference for us in terms of making sure financially we were stable despite the fact that revenues were down,” she said. The tribe, Malerba said, plans to continue reviewing its expansion plans and determining the right time to restart the project.

She said the tribe’s goal is not to cut any jobs. Instead, open positions are not being filled due to a hiring freeze.

“I think gaming overall is still a bit depressed,” she said. “I think the good news for us is ... we see the same number of customers coming through our doors. They’re just not going to spend as much money.”

Meanwhile, Malerba said the tribe hopes to reduce its debt and take a look at possible non-gambling ventures to pursue in the future. She declined to elaborate on what the tribe might consider.

“The wisdom in the past was that gaming was recession-proof. Obviously, that’s not the case. This was an unusual set of circumstances,” she said. “It makes sense to have a kind of balanced portfolio.”

Malerba grew up in the Uncasville section of Montville with other tribal members. She still lives there with her husband Paul. They have two adult daughters.

Malerba studied nursing at Hartford Hospital School of Nursing and later St. Joseph’s College in Hartford. She worked at Hartford Hospital for two years and then Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London for 21 years, eventually becoming director of cardiology and pulmonary services.

She served as executive director of the tribe’s health and human services department from 1997 until 2005.

She also holds a master’s in public administration from the University of Connecticut.

 

 

 

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