A record number of more than 600 attendees and 160 exhibitors will participate in the TribalNet Conference & Tradeshow scheduled for Sept. 18-21 in San Diego.
The annual conference, which will take place at the Town and Country Resort, is hosted by TribalHub, the largest community of technology-minded professionals from tribes across the U.S. Attendance is running about 25% higher than the 2022 conference in Reno. The conference hosts educational sessions all four days and a tradeshow on the the last two days.
This year’s conference will have three keynotes, three workshops, and more than 30 breakout sessions that fall under six tracks.
“Our advisory boards, a representation of the audience, provide the insight on what matters most and should be covered on the agenda each year,” said Shannon Bouschor, director of operations at TribalHub. “After leading the planning for this event and agenda for the last two decades, I have a pretty good pulse on what the top topics will be for our audience.”
One of the top sessions in the gaming and hospitality track is “What’s New in Gaming-Management-System Technology.” This session is being moderated by Patrick Tinklenberg, vice president of IT at Sycuan Casino, and Mark Badal, executive director of IT and InfoSec at Chumash Enterprises.
“They’ll be asking questions top of mind regarding current and future technology and the vision surrounding the core casino-gaming systems at tribal gaming properties,” Bouschor said. “This isn’t a sales pitch or a showcase of slot machines. These are experts from the providers of the systems that are the heart and soul of tribal gaming properties. Aristocrat, IGT, Light & Wonder, and CasinoTrac will all be participating on this panel.”
Other sessions under the gaming/hospitality track include: “Customer Data Platforms,” “The Cashless Ecosystem,” “Wireless Slot Floors” and “Robotics.”
Within the cybersecurity track, the first session on vendor risk management is highly requested.
“This panel discussion features legal, insurance, and information-security experts equipping attendees with a comprehensive understanding of vendor risk management from multiple perspectives,” Bouschor said. “By implementing the insights and best practices shared during this presentation, organizations can effectively mitigate vendor-related risks and safeguard their operations, reputation, and data against potential threats and liabilities.”
Bouschor added that several other sessions under this track are sure to be well-attended and include such topics as artificial intelligence, the Cloud, authentication strategies, ransomware, incident response, and zero-trust architecture, to name a few.
The leadership and management track is full of sessions for everyone, Bouschor said. One of the most popular will be “Mentoring and Knowledge Transfer,” led by Israel Stone, organizational development director at Little River Casino Resort.
“Israel’s approach to blending tribal culture and industry best practices in leadership and training are always well received by our audience,” Bouschor said. “He covers a topic that’s critical in workforce development and long-term planning, especially for tribes. Israel often delivers memorable content that leaves attendees feeling motivated and empowered to make an impact when they return home.”
A noteworthy session in the general-technology track is titled “Building the Tribal IT Dream Team: How ITIL and Tribal Cultural Values Create a Winning Culture.” This session will be led by Paula Starr, CIO of Cherokee Nation.
“Paula pushes the boundaries and is very well known among her peers,” Bouschor said. “This session will explore how tribal cultural values combined with IT best practices can help teams keep pace with technological progress and deliver high-quality services and solutions.”
Beyond breakout sessions, TribalNet has several workshops that are longer and more interactive. These include “Intentional Leadership,” “Get in the Crypto Game,” and “Ransomware Best Practices.”
“Ransomware continues to be an unfortunate buzz word for tribes,” Bouschor said. “Gate-15 representatives Andy Jabbour and Jen Lyn Walker, who are also the research analysts for Tribal-ISAC, lead this workshop that provides both guidance and opportunities to share ideas on actions to take or considerations to make that help secure networks and effectively respond should an incident occur. This session is an opportunity to dive into this topic and come out with real value.”
Bouschor said one of her personal favorite sessions is “A Leader’s Guide to Creating a Strong Security Culture,” delivered by Mike Miller, who has content on LinkedIn related to security that people should follow.
“Cybersecurity and humor don’t always seem to be a natural pairing, but he makes it so,” Bouschor said.
A second favorite is “Tribes — A Discussion on Benefits of Working Together,” which has a diverse job representation on the panel: general manager, director of IT, and executive director of casino finance.
“Steve Neely from Rolling Hills, Alan Walt from Fond du Lac, and Joe Busby from Sycuan lead it, with Dawn McGrady, director of finance at Little River, moderating,” Bouschor said. “Each will express how breaking the barriers of communication among your peers at other tribes is a game changer. This is essentially what TribalNet is all about.”
Bouschor’s third favorite session is: “Women in Technology – Community and Workforce Development.” “This session is an all-star lineup of ladies coming together for an insightful panel.”
One speaker, Shannon Wilkinson, CEO of Tego Cyber, is the author of Ripping Off the Hoodie: Encouraging the Next Generation of STEM Girls, which was an Amazon number-one bestseller. It focuses on closing the gap within STEM fields by bringing more diversity into the industry.
Jodi DiLascio from AISES, an organization that fosters career development and educational opportunities for indigenous STEM students, will participate. Frances Alvarez (Ipai Kumeyaay), president of the National Native American Hall of Fame and leader for the Women in Tribal Gaming group, is a panelist. Robin Villareal, CIO at Gila River Resorts & Casinos, will speak as well. She is a committee member of Global Gaming Women, which supports, inspires, and influences the development of women in the gaming industry.
Registration is still open and this year’s gathering will be the biggest and best experience yet for those participating, Bouschor said.