Management Team

Rick Salinas

General Manager

As general manager of the Barona Resort & Casino, Rick Salinas is responsible for keeping Barona on its path of leading the gaming industry in every category. He oversees the entire gaming operation which is centered around an award-winning casino and includes a resort hotel, a variety of upscale restaurants and casual eateries, and a championship golf course.

With an extensive background in gaming and hospitality, Rick has been instrumental in building and directing a renowned management team which is considered to be the best in the industry. He is responsible for setting the strategy and vision for the resort that employs over 1,600 staff members. In addition to overseeing the operations of the entire business, he is committed to continuing Barona’s leadership position in gaming by enriching Barona’s family environment for players and staff members. Rick ensures Barona is consistently delivering the exceptional service and memorable experiences that Barona’s loyal players want and deserve.

Rick Salinas joined Barona Resort & Casino in October 2000 as assistant general manager of human resources. His successful career includes executive management positions with Stouffer Hotels and Resorts, Interstate Hotels, the Four Seasons, Metro Hotels and Station Casinos.

Troy Simpson

Executive Vice President/Assistant General Manager

Since his career in the casino industry began in 1992, Troy Simpson has developed an expertise in gaming operations and casino marketing that make him a valuable and well-respected member of the Barona management team. Specializing in business strategy, execution, process improvement, organizational dynamics and acquisition and retention marketing, Troy has been an integral part of Barona’s success in the gaming industry. He is a proven leader with a natural ability to create positive organizational change.

Prior to his current position, he was senior vice president of innovation marketing and played a key role in keeping Barona on the cutting edge of business practices across all areas of the operation while maintaining its long-standing reputation for innovation excellence. He also served as executive director of loyalty marketing, where he was responsible for database marketing, casino hosts, guest services, shuttle and bus programs, casino customer room reservations and events and promotions as well as Barona’s award-winning players club.

A strong communicator and industry expert, Troy has been the subject of frequent interviews and has spoken at a variety of industry trade shows, conferences and educational venues. He began his career at Harrah’s Entertainment where he worked for eight years.

Rafael Alvarez

Executive Vice President/Assistant General Manager

Rafael Alvarez is known for his attention to player service, innovative approach to business and solution driven management style. Since starting in 1994 at Barona, he has worked his way through the organization under the guidance of the most respected casino management team in the gaming industry. He began his time at Barona working as a cashier in the slot department and was quickly promoted after catching management’s attention. He has held a variety of positions over the years, including shift supervisor, assistant shift manager, assistant casino manager, casino manager and executive casino manager.

In his current role as senior vice president of gaming operations, Rafael is responsible for managing the performance of the casino floor and overseeing Barona’s special events and promotions departments along with the fun-loving Barona Party People. He is also charged with ensuring that Barona is living up to its commitment to being the “Happiest Casino on Earth®.”

Since joining Barona, he has been an important part of the casino’s growth from the original Barona Big Top to its current status as San Diego’s leading gaming resort destination. He is focused on staying true to the core values and principles on which Barona was originally founded and is dedicated to growing its reputation.

Linda Jordan

Senior Vice President of Operations

Linda Jordan joined Barona Resort & Casino in 1994 as director of marketing. Her years of experience in advertising and her strategic marketing skills played a key role in developing the Barona brand and positioning Barona as a leader in the gaming industry. Over the years, her business acumen and proven track record quickly moved her through the ranks of the marketing department and into management roles, including senior vice president of marketing and as a casino manager for two years.

As senior vice president of operations since 2013, Linda provides leadership and guidance to many player-related departments and has a focus on marketing. She oversees Barona’s award-winning marketing department which is comprised of the industry’s best advertising, branding, social media, graphic design, internal and external communications, community relations, database marketing, public relations and visual design teams. Linda works closely with her marketing group to ensure Barona’s business objectives are being met. From the moment she arrived at Barona, Linda has been the epitome of the energy and warm friendliness that sets Barona apart from the rest which makes her a well-respected team leader and mentor.

Prior to joining Barona, she worked at several highly-regarded advertising and marketing agencies and was the marketing director for a major shopping center in San Diego. In the community, she has been involved with a variety of non-profit organizations. She has also served on the board of The Foundation for Women, the marketing committee of the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and an Advisory Board Member with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). She is a former president of the Advertising Club of San Diego and a recipient of the San Diego YWCA’s Tribute to Women in Industry Award (TWIN). Ms. Jordan was also honored as one of the “Great Women of Gaming” by Casino Enterprise Management magazine.

John Derby

Senior Vice President of Administration

With three decades of accounting management experience John Derby oversees the finance team at Barona as the Senior Vice President of Administration. He has over 20 years of experience in the gaming industry including senior finance positions at some of the most successful Tribal casinos in the country, as well as corporate casinos in Kentucky and Maryland owned by Churchill Downs.

John joined Barona in 2022 and says he jumped at the opportunity when he heard that a senior finance position was open at Barona because of everything he knew about Barona’s success, unique business culture, and reputation for the best player service in the industry.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, John grew up in a military family and lived in Hawaii, Texas and Illinois. He holds an MBA and a BA from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Kevin Ward

Vice President of Slot Operations

With a career spanning nearly two decades in management, Kevin Ward knows how to develop talent and motivate teams to deliver world class player service and produce outstanding financial results. Kevin joined Barona Resort & Casino in 2002 and held management and executive positions in Barona’s Human Resources department for nearly a decade. In 2011, he was promoted to become one of Barona’s casino managers with the responsibility of supervising performance on the casino floor and ensuring a positive experience for both staff members and players. As vice president of slot operations Kevin oversees all aspects of slot operations and slot performance.

Prior to joining Barona, Kevin began his career at Wells Fargo Bank. He was promoted to vice president/senior relationship manager for retirement plans where he oversaw the relationships for accounts totaling $850 million in assets.

Mike Patterson

Vice President, Table Games Operations

As vice president of table games operations, Mike Patterson is the driving force behind what is widely regarded as the most innovative and player-friendly table game operations in the industry. With his unique leadership, Barona has become known for offering both the world’s most liberal high stakes blackjack games and for being the “world’s premier gambling laboratory” for a variety of gaming industry table game inventors.

In his more than 25 years at Barona, Mike’s responsibilities have grown significantly. He currently oversees Barona’s entire table game operation which includes more than 65 table games including the widely popular Asian gaming area known as Dragon Alley, and the Electronic Table Game terminals in Barona’s Rapid Arena. In addition, Mike oversees the training and supervision and guides the professional development of over 300 table games staff. He is known for his unique ability to identify and develop young talent during training in Barona’s Dealer school, which he founded nearly 20 years ago.

Jeffty Connelly

Vice President of Player Relations

Jeffty Connelly started his career at Barona as an executive host in 2005 after working as a VIP host in Las Vegas. Quickly identified as a favorite host with Barona’s players, Jeffty was promoted to be one of Barona’s casino managers in December 2012 and was elevated to his current role as vice president of player relations in 2019. In this role, he oversees Club Barona, one of the largest and most important departments at Barona Resort & Casino, which includes all of the VIP and executive hosts.

Managing what is considered to be the heartbeat of Barona, Jeffty’s primary role is to work with the more than 140 staff members in Club Barona to deliver exceptional service to the hundreds of thousands of Barona’s loyal VIPs and Club Barona members. He also serves as a mentor to the Host teams, helping them to foster strong relationships with current players as well as to develop relationships with new ones. In addition to making fun happen for all of the players, he also makes fun happen for his staff by showing them the importance of developing strong relationships with each other to build a strong team.

Celebrated by his colleagues as the ultimate team player, Jeffty brings that spirit to Barona in a way that is infectious to everyone around him. He is focused on building genuine relationships with Barona’s top players and welcoming them into the Barona Family.

His professional career began on the basketball courts. He traveled the world as a professional basketball player for thirteen years in the Continental Basketball Association and World Basketball League. He spent most of his sports career in Brazil and is fluent in Portuguese. Jeffty’s professional sports background provides him with a unique perspective that is a big asset to Barona. He understands the importance of developing a strong team which translates to everyone working together to make fun happen on the casino floor for Barona’s players.

Clark Hickey

Vice President of Food & Beverage

As a passionate foodie with a laser focus on delivering superior service, Clark Hickey brings 30 years of hospitality and gaming industry experience to his role as vice president of food & beverage at Barona Resort & Casino. Clark is responsible for the daily operations of Barona’s award-winning restaurants, including the Barona Oaks Steakhouse, Sage Café, Italian Cucina, and a collection of casual eateries. He manages nearly 900 staff members who he believes in keeping just as happy as Barona’s loyal players. One of his main goals is to find ways to say “yes” and fulfill players’ culinary cravings and create memorable dining experiences.

Prior to his current position, Clark worked his way up at Barona as a Food & Beverage Training Manager, Slot Operations Manager and Director of Food & Beverage. He credits his experience on Barona’s casino floor with cultivating a casino mindset when making decisions to better serve players as well as staff members. Early in his career, Mr. Hickey worked at top resorts on the East and West Coasts in hotel operations and in food and beverage which fueled his culinary ambitions. One of his favorite past times is exploring San Diego’s restaurant scene to ensure Barona’s menus reflect current tastes and trends.

Mike Murphy

Vice President, Technology

With nearly four decades of experience in the technology industry, Mike Murphy joined Barona Resort & Casino in May of 2003 and currently serves as vice president of technology. With decades of high-level technology management expertise, Mike has helped architect and nurture the sophisticated infrastructure at Barona. In this position, he oversees an information technology department with approximately 40 engineers, analysts and computer programmers and is responsible for testing manufacturer’s products, searching for innovative applications, and developing new products. An innovator at heart, Mike is charged with creating inventive ways to increase revenue and operational efficiencies through the use of technology.

Mike held various positions in the technology industry before entering the gaming industry in 1995. He started his career in the technology industry working as a mainframe computer operator while attending Tulane University. He later joined a small computer dealership during the beginning of the PC industry. Mike worked for the company as it grew into a 16-store chain where he served as the service manager for all of the retail outlets. With an entrepreneurial spirit, he started his own PC service company which he sold a decade later when he received an exciting offer to join the casino industry and work in technology for Bally Entertainment in New Orleans.

Mike Brlan

Executive Director, Hotel Operations

Mike moved to California from Cleveland, Ohio and brings 30 years of hospitality and gaming experience to his role as executive director of hotel operations at Barona Resort & Casino. He has been delivering 23 years of superior service here at Barona and oversees 395 rooms and manages over 150 staff members. Mike is dedicated to making his staff and players feel at home when they come on property and ensures all expectations are being met.

Prior to his career at Barona, Mike served as Guest Service Director at La Quinta Resort and Club in La Quinta, CA. However, upon hearing of the incredible opportunity to create a new resort from the ground up, Mike jumped on board and has created what we now know and love as Barona Resort. Mike is one of the most dedicated and whole-hearted people in our Barona Family. He will take the time to personally write you a welcome note or stop by with a smile on his face.

In Mr. Brlan’s free time he enjoys spending quality time and creating life long memories with his family and friends.

Jesus “Chuy” Martinez

Executive Director of Property Management

In his role as executive director of property management, Jesus Martinez oversees the Barona Resort & Casino facilities team. The department is responsible for the maintenance and construction of Barona’s world-class buildings and grounds including the casino, resort hotel and Barona Creek Golf Club. With nearly 100 staff members, the facilities team includes experts in mechanical, electrical, HVAC, fabrication, water treatment and conservation, fire and life safety, landscaping and renovation projects.

Under his direction, Jesus and his facilities team are charged with upholding and enhancing Barona’s reputation for beautifully maintained buildings and immaculate resort grounds to ensure that staff and players are comfortable while working and playing.

While focused on managing a large and diverse department, he is also dedicated to spending time on the casino floor interacting with Barona’s players. Not typical for his position in most casinos but highly effective as he gets immediate feedback and input from players on their comfort and enjoyment at Barona. His friendly manner, helpfulness and infectious smile has made him a favorite with Barona’s players and staff alike.

Jesus began his career at Barona in 1996 and has worked his way up through the casino in a variety of positions.

Laura Ruiz

Executive Director, Human Resources 

Laura leads the Human Resources department in ensuring that Barona recruits, hires, develops, retains, and rewards staff members who deliver exceptional experiences and service at the Home of the VIP Players. Integral to this are her efforts in setting, enforcing, and evaluating HR policies, procedures, and best practices.

Laura began her Barona career as a table games dealer and was soon promoted to a supervisory position, where she developed an interest in Human Resources. After expanding her knowledge and honing her skills in this discipline, she was able to transition to the HR department as an internal consultant. Within five years, she assumed a senior HR consultant position, a role in which she served for 11 years.

Laura is dedicated to helping Barona Resort & Casino thrive in the ever-changing environments. She is committed to aiding the growth and sustainably of the enterprise for the enjoyment of its players, the stability and productivity of its staff, and the long-term viability of the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

Dawn Reilly

Executive Director, Marketing

Dawn has been part of the Barona Family since 2005, beginning as a Project Manager and working her way up the Marketing ranks. She has twenty-five years’ experience in marketing strategy, project management and team leadership.

In her current role, Dawn oversees all aspects of Marketing including creative development, graphic design, advertising, database marketing, social media, web, community relations and visual design.  During her time leading Barona’s marketing team, the property has received such accolades as USA Today’s Best Casino outside of Las Vegas in 2019 and Union Tribune’s Best Award for Best Casino and Loosest Slots, since 2010.

Dawn works closely with the Marketing and Operations teams, ensuring players receive the same personable and friendly feel in Barona’s marketing that is experienced everywhere on property.

Hugo Enriquez

Executive Director, Cage & Credit

Hugo joined Barona in 2002 as a Cage Cashier. Since, Hugo has had the opportunity to learn and operate within other business functions, including Table Games and in the Executive Management team as part of the Casino Manager group. During his time at Barona, Hugo has gained extensive casino operations experience. He now leads the Cage and Credit departments where he identifies operational efficiencies, cultivates Barona-minded leaders, and strives to connect everything the Cage offers to the gaming floor, bringing people closer together.

In his previous role as a Casino Manager, Hugo took pride in providing leadership to staff and helping guide day-to-day operations. He continuously improved upon the Barona brand, bringing a high degree of service and grew the relationships that separate Barona from the rest.

In his current position, Hugo is not limited to the Cage. His path has been one that has taught him the importance of our casino-centric focus and his leadership qualities and expertise allow him to role model the importance of connectivity throughout all areas of Barona. With this understanding, Hugo works diligently to bring people closer, not only through their jobs but teaching the philosophy that every staff member at Barona contributes to our success.