Power Women SD: Spotlight on Erica Pinto
Chairwoman, Jamul Indian Village
Erica M. Pinto currently serves as Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village (JIV) of California, one of the 12 tribes of the Kumeyaay Nation who trace their roots back 12,000 years in San Diego County, California. Ms. Pinto has been involved with the JIV Tribal Council since 1997, becoming a Councilmember at age 22. Serving for more than 17 years on the Council, she was appointed Vice Chair in 2008. In 2015, she was the first woman elected Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village, an honor she proudly holds today. This extensive experience gives her a sophisticated grasp on even the most complex aspects of tribal governance.
Since becoming Chairwoman, Ms. Pinto has led JIV to make significant economic progress on its path to self-reliance, spearheading the development of Jamul Casino®. The Casino funds educational opportunities, healthcare, and housing initiatives for JIV members, and projects that benefit the surrounding community. She continues working to expand the Tribe’s land base and increase economic opportunities for members of the JIV.
For the past several years, Ms. Pinto has served on the San Diego International Film Festival’s Native American Advisory Board. This group is tasked with viewing the entries by Native American filmmakers, and selecting the top films to be screened during the festival. Of the dozens of entries received from the US and Canada each year, the Advisory Board must narrow the selections down to about six. Films range from 20-minute short films to full-length features. Many of the Native American films are documentaries focused on education or tribal history.
CEO and Artistic Director of the San Diego International Film Festival, Tonya Mantooth shared “We are honored to have Chairwoman Pinto on our Native American Advisory Board – helping to guide the Native American stories we share at the Festival. Storytelling is at the heart of Erica’s culture – and the heart of all we do at the festival. Her passion for film and strong belief in how film is a voice for exploring social issues makes her a perfect fit for the programming that resonates with us. Erica is one of a handful of women in tribal leadership positions in the country – and I admire that she uses her platform to not only support and elevate her tribal members through the growth of the casino, but also gives back to the Native American community through social services. I am honored to have her as an integral voice of the San Diego International Film Festival.”
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