Wendell Long, chief executive officer of Pascua Yaqui Gaming Enterprises, leaves today to work as general manager of Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Mich.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council confirmed Alex Amador as interim CEO.

Amador will oversee Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center, including the AVA Amphitheater, at 5655 W. Valencia Road, and Casino of the Sun at 7406 S. Camino de Oeste.

Amador was among five Yaqui candidates in training for the job, and the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council has not announced when it will officially appoint a permanent CEO. Long said he expects Amador to be named to the permanent CEO post.

Amador could not be reached for comment.

In an article in Indian Country, Amador said: "Both my maternal grandparents are full-blooded Pascua Yaqui tribal members, so it's very meaningful for me to advance my career at a place that encourages the professional and personal growth of its employees and the tribe."

"As interim CEO of Casino del Sol Resort, I am looking forward to working with the community to help our friends and neighbors and continuing to serve our guests and visitors in the manner they have come to expect," said Amador in the article.

Amador is a 2000 graduate of California State University at Fresno, where he received a bachelor of science in business administration. He began working in 2004 at Casino del Sol, said Long.

Long said Amador worked in the finance department and climbed to director of financial operations. He also worked as assistant director of marketing. Before he went to work for the gaming enterprises, Amador worked for the tribal government, Long said.

In reflecting on his years with the tribe, Long recalled an interview with the Arizona Daily Star seven years ago. "I said I was to be the last non-Pascua Yaqui tribal member to be CEO, and I succeeded in my goal," Long said.

"I worked myself out of a job," said Long, explaining that the tribe's goal was to get tribal members in key gaming management positions.

A program called Supporting Tribal Employment Partnership trains tribal employees in management for key job positions across the board.

Long said among his top accomplishments were:

• A $125 million expansion with the building of the 215-room Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center in 2011.

• The resort's AAA Four Diamond rating in December.

• The Forbes Travel Guide's Four Star Award in February.

• Increased tribal employment from 30 percent to 70 percent in gaming operations, and training tribal members for a majority of management positions.

Long, 49, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, served as CEO of the tribe's gaming enterprises since 2006, overseeing 1,500 employees. Last year, he ranked fifth among top minority executives in Star 200, a survey of major employers across Southern Arizona. The ranking was based on the size of the workforce.

Long has 32 years of casino experience, including more than 15 years in Indian gaming. Before working for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, he served as general manager at Treasure Island Casino in Minnesota; as casino executive at Foxwoods Resort Casino and director of table games at Mohegan Sun, both in Connecticut; and spent 15 years in Atlantic City, including working at the Playboy Hotel & Casino and working with the Trump organization.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.