Robert Mele, a Harvard University and Wharton School of Business graduate, has been elected the new chairman of Seneca Gaming Corp.
Seneca Gaming is the casino operator of the Seneca Nation of Indians and is responsible for operating three local casinos.
Mele replaces former Buffalo News reporter Karen Karsten, who was elected Seneca Gaming chair last year. Karsten remains on Seneca Gaming's board of directors.
Mele was named Seneca Gaming chair during its annual reorganization meeting. Also elected to leadership roles were: David Kimelberg, vice chairman; Richard Nephew, treasurer and Cochise Redeye, secretary.
Besides Karsten other members of Seneca Gaming's board of directors include: Jeffrey Gill, Mark Halftown, Sandra Hill and Patrick Gendrue II.
"Addressing the complex issues, which are part of today's gaming landscape, will require astute leadership from the board of directors," said Robert Odawi Porter, Seneca Nation president.
Mele and his fellow officers take over Seneca Gaming at a time when it is completing a 201-room expansion of the Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel and the construction of the permanent Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
Mele has been on the Seneca Gaming board since 2009 and has more than 30 years experience in the financial world. He spent a dozen years in Mexico as a member of a management team running successful startups in the telecommunications and Internet fields.
Mele also worked for Bankers Trust, for its Merchant Banking Group.
Kimelberg, Seneca Holdings CEO, has a deep resume in the venture capital and investment worlds. He was a former vice president and general counsel for SoftBank Capital and SoftBank Holdings and was also a corporate attorney with Foley Hoag LLP's Boston office and Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft LP's New York office.
Kimelberg was named to the Seneca Gaming board last year.
Nephew spent 33 years with the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and has held a number of positions with the Seneca Nation and its various enterprises. He was named to the board in 2009 and elected treasurer the following year.
Redeye, who briefly served as board chairman for six months in 2009, is a retired detective from the Erie County Sheriff's Office.
"Over the past several years, our board has worked closely with the management team to successfully navigate Seneca Gaming Corp. through a trying economic downturn," Mele said. "We are poised to position the company for continued success."
All of the board members are appointed by the Seneca Nation of Indians Council. The board then elects its own officers.