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RSCVA to Interview Two Candidates for CEO Slot


By Carla O’Day

An Arizonan who’s twice worked in Reno and a Northern Californian were selected by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) board Thursday as the top two candidates to fill its vacant chief executive officer position.

After reviewing six resumes put forth by the Lapham Group search firm and talking individually by phone to some candidates, the board narrowed its choices to Philip DeLone and Richard Peterson.

phil delone
Phil DeLone, Photo: Safari Club International

DeLone has been CEO of the Tucson, Ariz.-based Safari Club International since 2012. Prior to that, he had been executive director of sales at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino since 1996. Five years earlier, DeLone was executive director of the Safari Club, his resume states. His first stint in Reno was 1987-1991 at Bally’s Casino Resort, which later became the Grand Sierra Resort, as assistant vice president and sales and marketing director. He’s also held posts in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Richard peterson
Richard Peterson, Photo: Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

Peterson is president and CEO of San Fransisco-based S&P Consulting, which provides tourism, marketing, strategic planning and business development services. His resume indicates he’s facilitated and participated in targeted marketing, public relations and sales programs domestically and overseas. He had previously been executive vice president of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism; and prior to that, director of sales and business partnerships for the California Academy of Sciences. Between 2005-2008, he was the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau’s senior director of travel industry and tourism development.

Several board members named both Peterson and DeLone as two of their top three choices but most didn’t indicate a ranked preference, opting to list their favorites in alphabetical order.

Initial Candidate Preferences Divided

A few board members representing hotel-casinos said DeLone is familiar with the area and could “hit the ground running.”

“He’s familiar with the Reno-Tahoe area and knows the players and has been on both sides of the equation,” said Nat Carasali of the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino. “He’d have a minimal learning curve and maybe none at all.”

The politicians on the board seemed more keen toward Peterson and noted the whole community needs to be involved in the process, especially since the CEO’s job will involve more than increasing room nights.

“This can’t be a place for people to create a resume,” said chairman Bob Lucey, a Washoe County commissioner. “This person will need to be a collaborator.”

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve suggested the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority board, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada board and the University of Nevada, Reno, among others, conduct interviews with the candidates.

The RSCVA board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Oct. 27 at its office in Reno Town Mall, 4001 S. Virginia St., to discuss the CEO vetting process. Candidate interviews are expected to take place during public meetings in November or December.

Board member John Farahi from Atlantis Casino Resort Spa said the best interviewers aren’t always the best candidates.

“We should go to the communities they work and talk to people they work with face to face,” Farahi said. “Just to interview someone face to face, in my experience, isn’t enough.”

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Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.