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Meet Angelina Casanova, leading the effort to sustain Mashantucket's economy

Angelina Casanova is the chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Command Holdings and a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Reginald Nelson Photography
Angelina Casanova is the chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Command Holdings and a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Angelina Casanova has been leading a team to develop strategies for economic resources for her tribe outside of the gaming industry. Casanova is the chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Command Holdings, a company established in 2017 by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

“Indigenous women have a lot of unique perspectives,” Casanova said. “ We think a lot about community, we think a lot about the impact of business on community and how business should serve the community.”

Casanova said representation matters. Originally from New York, she felt like she didn’t see people like her in leadership roles. With the support from her mother and help from the tribe, she pursued her education. She learned about important Mashantucket women and how they made an impact on their community. It gave her the confidence to move forward.

“Really inspired me to be that leader in my community, to know that I could do things, that I could break barriers, that I could step out of what society tells me I should do or be,” Casanova said.

After moving to the reservation, she attended Cheshire Academy. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Towson University in Women’s Studies and a graduate certificate in Business Communications from Harvard University Extension School.

Casanova said when she was initially offered the role of chairwoman, she felt unsure about accepting the leadership position. She said leading the all-male board was intimidating at first. But she found that with the support from the community, she could learn along the way.

“I think a lot of women, specifically Indigenous and women of color, have this idea that we have to be perfect. We have to look perfect on paper, be perfectly suited to pursue leadership positions,” Casanova said. “You can leap into leadership positions, you don't have to check off every criteria.”

Casanova’s career spans more than 20 years. She has worked in federal government relations, strategic communications, and business development, serving as the tribe’s National Legislative Affairs Manager as well as chairwoman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Task Force.

In 2021, Casanova was announced as a Native American 40 Under 40 award recipient by the National Center of American Indian Economic Development (NCAIED), which recognizes emerging leaders in Indian Country.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Casanova said the company’s priority was to successfully stabilize the company and retain all of its employees. She said the company has grown tremendously in the past few years. It has completed several acquisitions, retained 500 employees, and operates in 17 different time zones.

“If you have asked me then, do I think we would be where we are now, I would have told you no. Because I didn't think that I had it in me, but others did and I’m grateful for what they saw and I’m grateful for the support that I have,” Casanova said.

This is one of a series of stories on Indigenous women reported by Jeniece Roman during Women's History Month.

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.