From Vegas glitz to tribal government: How one communicator found her dream job

Why the senior VP of strategic communications for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians wishes she’d made more mistakes in her younger years.

Kelley Tucky loves what she does. It’s evident in the quiet passion in her voice and her every carefully chosen word. And it’s what’s helped bring her to her self-described dream job.

Thinking back on her younger years, before she even entered the field of communications, that same attitude drove her. “I would say yes to every opportunity that came along because I thought that yes, eventually this is going to mean something,” Tucky said. “Yes, I will use this experience one way or another.”

Thirty years of experience brought Tucky from higher education to the poshest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, and then to that dream job: vice president of strategic communications for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

“Everything I’ve ever done has led up to this moment,” she said.

Follow Tucky’s winding journey as she dabbled across communications fields and finally found the purpose and meaning she was looking for all along.

Do ‘what scares you most’

When Tucky moved to Las Vegas in the late 1980s, she intended to finish her master’s degree and go on to her PhD. From there, she aimed for a job as a dean of students, or maybe a professor.

But the bright lights of the Strip beckoned.

Tucky joined the newly opened the Mirage Hotel and Casino, working in human resources doing internal communications and events for the hotel’s 6,000 employees. She worked her way up within the MGM organization, where she would stay until 2019.

If Tucky could tell that younger self anything, it would be to say yes, take chances, and “remember that what scares you the most may be exactly what you need to do.”

Above all, she’d make more mistakes.

“I made very few mistakes, which is really weird to say. I would be oddly analytical and a very structured thinker in a very gregarious, high-energy, assertive, playful environment,” she says. “The reason I’m in my dream job now is I get to bring my true personality to my role.”

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