LVCVA hires Station Casinos’ Lori Nelson as its top communications executive

Lori Nelson, longtime spokeswoman for Station Casinos, has been hired as the new senior vice president of communications and government affairs for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Nelson will become the top communications officer for the LVCVA after the March departure of Jacqueline Peterson, who spent two years as the LVCVA’s chief communications and public affairs officer.

Nelson’s arrival is occurring in the midst of an investigation and personnel shakeup at the LVCVA prompted by stories published by the Review-Journal.

An audit conducted following a series of Review-Journal stories uncovered questionable spending on travel and alcohol at the agency, rides provided to top officials by convention security staff and lax oversight of expensive gifts at the authority’s warehouse.

As the investigation progressed, Metro police determined that Brig Lawson, the former head of the LVCVA’s business partnerships, purchased $90,000 worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards with taxpayer funds and distributed them to several LVCVA employees, including former President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and Chief Marketing Officer Cathy Tull, who both used them for personal travel for themselves and their families.

Ralenkotter, who retired and became a consultant for the agency on Aug. 31, admitted using $17,000 in cards for personal travel and reimbursed the agency. He publicly apologized for his conduct, and the board approved recommendations from auditors to tighten controls over the gift cards.

Ralenkotter, who has maintained that he did not know the cards were purchased with tax dollars, has denied any criminal wrongdoing.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the LVCVA, spent about 10 minutes at Tuesday’s meeting briefing the LVCVA board with his perspective on the most recent Review-Journal stories outlining how Lawson negotiated seat upgrades for Ralenkotter’s wife and Tull’s husband and other LVCVA executives from British Airways for international travel between 2012 and 2016.

Hill said the LVCVA would continue to work with airlines to fulfill the agency’s mission of increasing visitation to Southern Nevada.

“We will continue to bring executives and those in the travel industry here to Las Vegas, to host them while they are here, to do that in a transparent and accountable way, to make sure we do it appropriately,” he said. “We will continue to do that. It is exceptionally important that we do. This organization has done great things and we are committed to continuing to work hard to make a difference in this city.”

Hill said the LVCVA “is a different organization than in the past” and that policy changes have been made and embraced by the executive team, employees and agency ambassadors.

Nelson, an expert in crisis communications, said there was no connection between her hiring and the recent public relations woes the agency is facing.

“I chalked it up as I looked at this opportunity and I’m really confident and proud to join the LVCVA,” Nelson told the Review-JournalTuesday. “I really believe in the leadership of Steve Hill and the strategic vision that he set and look forward to helping to carry that out. I love Station Casinos and the Fertittas (owners and top executives of the company), but this was truly a bucket-list career opportunity.”

Hill also announced the hiring of H. Fletch Brunelle Tuesday, formerly the senior vice president of customer care for MGM Resorts International, as vice president of marketing, reporting to Tull.

Nelson, 48, vice president of corporate communications for Station Casinos since 2005, coordinated publicity for the casino openings of Red Rock Resort in 2006, Aliante Station in 2008 and tribal casinos managed by Station in Michigan and California, as well as the 2018 relaunch of Palace Station.

She served for more than five years as the associate director of public relations for R&R Partners in Las Vegas where she specialized in media relations, issues management, crisis communications and community relations for a variety of clients and also owned PRceptions Public Relations, a small PR agency in Las Vegas.

Nelson helped plan the Las Vegas centennial celebration in 2005 and the state’s sesquicentennial observance in 2014.

A 1999 graduate of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Leadership Las Vegas program, she also served as president of Child Focus Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the state’s foster care system in 2011-2012.

She will be paid $195,000 a year in her new LVCVA position.

Nelson will report to Hill, who said he “wouldn’t rule out” that she eventually would take the chief communications officer title.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Business Videos
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA/Boring Company Press Conference
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced a collaboration with Elon Musk's The Boring Company to develop and operate an autonomous people mover system for the Las Vegas Convention Center District.
International Pizza Expo includes green and gluten free
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included companies focused on vegan and gluten free, and plant-based pizza boxes. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo kicks off in Las Vegas
The first day of the International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center is everything Pizza. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
T-Mobile program aids guests with sensory needs
A program at T-Mobile Arena is designed to provide a more sensory friendly experience for guests.
Photo Booth Expo
Danielle May talks about how Simple Booth transformed her Volkswagen bus into a business.
Nevada Gaming Commission's highest fines
The highest fines assessed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, according to commission Chairman Tony Alamo: 1) Wynn Resorts Ltd., $20 million, 2019 2) CG Technology (then known as Cantor G&W Holdings), $5.5 million, 2014 3) The Mirage, $5 million ($3 million fine, $2 million compensatory payment), 2003 4) Stardust, $3 million, 1985 5) Santa Fe Station, $2.2 million ($1.5 million fine, $700,000 compensatory payment), 2005 6) Las Vegas Sands, $2 million, 2016 7) CG Technology, $1.75 million, 2018 8) CG Technology, $1.5 million (also $25,000 in escrow for underpaid patrons), 2016 9) Caesars Entertainment, $1.5 million, 2015 10) Imperial Palace, $1.5 million, 1989 11) Peppermill Casinos, $1 million, 2014
Tiny Pipe Home vs Shipping Crate
A Tiny pipe home was displayed at the International Builders Show this week in Las Vegas.
Auto repair shortage affects Las Vegas
The auto repair industry is facing a national shortage of workers.
Franchising industry booming
Experts say Las Vegas is a hotbed for the franchise industry.
Africa Love owner talks about his store in Las Vegas
Mara Diakhate, owner of Africa Love, gift and decor store, talks about his store in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing