The MGC’s five commissioners voted unanimously on September 10, 2020 to select Karen Wells as its new Executive Director. Director Wells has been with the MGC since 2013, serving as Director of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB). During her tenure with the MGC, she has also served twice as Interim Executive Director, most recently leading the MGC staff through the COVID-19 pandemic, working to support an orderly temporary suspension of gaming in the Commonwealth—and subsequently a safe re-opening of casinos in July 2020.
In her role as Director of the IEB, Ms. Wells’ work focused on protecting the public interest and ensuring the integrity of legal gaming in Massachusetts by leading the regulatory enforcement of the Expanded Gaming Act. On behalf of the MGC, she was also responsible for facilitating law enforcement activity involving the Massachusetts State Police, the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and other local, state and federal law enforcement partners.
Prior to joining MGC, Ms. Wells most recently served as the Undersecretary for Law Enforcement at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety. As Undersecretary, Ms. Wells directed the functions and administration of the Massachusetts State Police, the Department of Public Safety and the Municipal Police Training Committee. The Department of Public Safety is a regulatory, licensing and inspection agency, charged with the oversight of numerous activities, businesses and professions. Ms. Wells also coordinated with federal, state and local public safety officials to enhance cooperation on all policy and operational matters. During her tenure as Undersecretary, she also served as secretariat lead for gaming-related issues. In 2008, Ms. Wells functioned as the commonwealth’s Senior Counsel for Law Enforcement and Fire Services and was responsible for managing policy development and implementation of programs relative to crime prevention, emergency management and public safety.
In 2007, Ms. Wells served as Deputy Chief of the Public Protection, Anti-Terrorism, Corruption and Technology Unit at the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted high-level narcotics and white-collar crimes. Previously, she served as Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office assigned to the Special Investigations and Narcotics Division.
In 1994, Ms. Wells began her career as an Assistant District Attorney at the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. Wells graduated with a law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1994. In 1991, she graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. Wells is also the recipient of several commendations and distinguished service awards including the Massachusetts State Police Superintendent’s Commendation for her contribution to a wiretap investigation of a major state narcotics investigation.
Mr. Grossman is the General Counsel to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Having arrived at the Commission in 2012, near the inception of the agency, Mr. Grossman oversees the legal department that offers counsel to the commissioners and staff on a wide variety of matters relating to the oversight and administration of the agency, gaming, and racing in the Commonwealth.
Mr. Grossman has contributed to the development and implementation of new regulations and policies governing the process by which gaming licenses were awarded, related municipal issues addressed, and ultimately how the casinos are regulated, as well as being involved in the development of an enhanced code of ethics for commissioners and staff of the Commission.
Prior to his role at the Commission, Mr. Grossman served as one of the inaugural commissioners of the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission which body is charged with the regulation of mixed martial arts and boxing events in the Commonwealth. Mr. Grossman began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office prosecuting a wide variety of criminal matters in the district and superior courts of the Commonwealth. He is a graduate of Brandeis University, and holds a law degree from New England Law Boston.
Chief, Division of Community Affairs
Joe Delaney is the Chief of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Division of Community Affairs Division. He is responsible for the implementation of the Community Mitigation Fund and ensuring licensees’ compliance with the myriad permits and agreements required as part of the development and operation of the gaming establishments. He has been with the Commission since 2016, first serving as the Construction Project Oversight Manager, overseeing more than $3.5 billion of casino construction projects until his promotion in October 2020.
Since 2015, the Community Mitigation Fund has awarded numerous grants to cities, towns and other governmental entities to offset the costs associated with the construction and operation of the gaming facilities. The Commission has awarded over $23 million in grants since the program’s inception.
From 2006 until 2016, Mr. Delaney served as the Deputy Director of Municipal Services for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. In that position, he was a Senior Manager in the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, providing more than $400 million per year in low-interest rate financing for cities and towns for water and sewer infrastructure projects. He has also held positions in municipal government as the Town Engineer in Reading MA and in various consulting roles. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts.
Director of Communications
Elaine Driscoll is a media relations professional with more than a decade of experience in public relations, strategic communications and community outreach. Prior to joining the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Driscoll served as the Director of Communication and Media Relations for the Boston Police Department (BPD). In this role, Driscoll developed and implemented policies and strategies related to all Boston Police internal and external communications, public relations, marketing, community relations and public information. During her tenure at BPD, Driscoll and the BPD Media Relations staff were recognized as the ‘In-house PR Team of the Year’ at the 2011 PR Week Awards. Driscoll functioned as the primary Boston Police spokesperson and was responsible for developing key messaging and media strategy for numerous high-profile crisis situations, promoting positive news stories, and maintaining effective relationships with all media outlets.
Prior to joining the BPD, Driscoll worked as Vice President of Corporate Communications at SBE Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, CA. Driscoll began her career at Regan Communications Group in Boston, MA. Driscoll is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication.
Director of Workforce, Supplier and Diversity Development
As MGC’s Director of Workforce, Supplier and Diversity Development, Ms. Griffin is responsible for the promotion of diversity and programs to encourage all residents of the Commonwealth to benefit from the new jobs and business opportunities created through the expansion of gaming. Ms. Griffin also develops and manages initiatives to support small business seeking business opportunities with casino and slots-parlor gaming licensees. Ms. Griffin works with unions, employers, training entities and other workforce development partners and agencies across the state to recommend policy and engage in existing or new initiatives that address casino training, workplace safety and diversity.
Ms. Griffin has more than 15 years of experience in economic and workforce development and most recently served as Senior Director of Programs at The Boston Foundation. Prior to this role, Griffin held various leadership positions with a focus in economic development and strategic planning and partnerships at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. Ms. Griffin began her career at City Year and Northeastern University’s Cooperative Education Program. Ms. Griffin has also served on several boards throughout her professional career including presently the Massachusetts Service Alliance and previously MYTOWN (Multicultural Youth Tour of What’s Now) and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Community Action Committee. Ms. Griffin earned a Masters of Science and a Bachelors of Arts in Communication both from the State University of New York College at Oswego, NY.
Chief Information Officer
Katrina Jagroop-Gomes has served as the MGC’s Chief Information Officer since 2018, managing information technology services and gaming technical compliance. Her team aims to leverage the power of technology by providing a secure and reliable computing environment, creative solutions, responsive services and access to a current and robust infrastructure, and is also responsible for planning, organizing, managing, and implementing the regulations, policies, procedures, and testing needed to ensure the integrity of electronic gaming devices and associated software and equipment.
She has more than 20 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, previously holding IT positions in organizations like WGBH, Suffolk University and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. She has expertise in operations, finance, compliance and technology, and has worked with business heads to help create strategies to leverage technology in their organizations.
She holds both an MBA in Information Technology from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Suffolk University. She was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success, and was one of the recipients of the Massachusetts Excellence in Technology, Leader in Digital Government Award in 2017.
She is an active volunteer in her community with a special focus on teenage girls and women at risk, and was named to the Essex County Commission on the Status of Women in December of 2020.
Director of Racing
As Director of Racing, Dr. Lightbown is responsible for coordinating the regulation of the state’s horseracing industry and implementing Chapters 128A and 128C.
She has over 26 years of experience in horseracing, with 23 of those years in a regulatory position. Dr. Lightbown most recently held the position of Chief Veterinarian and Operations Manager for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. In this role, she was responsible for implementing a series of regulatory reforms put in place by the Gaming Commissioners.
Prior to this role, for three years she was the Acting Director of Racing and Chief Veterinarian for the Massachusetts State Racing Commission and for the Massachusetts Department of Professional Licensure. This included being responsible for the field operations at the state’s racetracks, overseeing auditors, licensing, the drug testing laboratory, test barn, and stewards/judges. Dr. Lightbown began her regulatory career with the Massachusetts State Racing Commission as Chief Veterinarian, overseeing the health and welfare of the state’s racing animals.
Dr. Lightbown’s first job at a racetrack was in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a veterinary assistant. After completing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, she worked in a private practice at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, MA for about a year, and next at Rockingham Park in Salem, NH for two years.
Dr. Lightbown earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Colorado State University, after spending her first two years of college at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Chief, Division of Licensing
Nakisha Skinner joined the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as its Licensing Division Chief in November 2020. She oversees vendor and employee licensing and registration and alcohol beverage licensing operations. As the primary point of contact for casinos’ human resources and compliance departments, she is focused on delivering high-quality customer service, ensuring compliance with licensing regulations, policies, and procedures, and enhancing the Licensing Management System.
She brings more than 20 years in state and local government administration to the MGC, most recently serving as General Counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. She previously held several positions at the Boston Public Health Commission, including General Counsel.
She earned her Juris Doctor at Suffolk University Law School and her Certificate of Human Services Leadership and Management and Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Law at Suffolk University. She has served on the board of directors for the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys, where she also served as an officer. In 2016, she was awarded the distinction of In-House Leader of the Law by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Mark Vander Linden
Director of Research and Responsible Gaming
As MGC’s Director of Research and Responsible Gaming, Mr. Vander Linden oversees the MGC research agenda which includes a baseline study to understand the social and economic effects of expanded gambling, levels of problem gambling and prevention and treatment services currently available. Additionally, he oversees numerous ongoing studies to gain information relative to gambling disorders and advance the treatment and prevention field. Mr. Vander Linden works closely with stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth to support effective and innovative prevention, treatment and recovery support methods.
Mr. Vander Linden most recently served as the Executive Officer in the Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention at the Iowa Department of Public Health where he directed all aspects of problem gambling services for the state including treatment, prevention, marketing, research and workforce development. He serves on numerous Boards including the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and National Center for Problem Gambling. Mr. Vander Linden frequently provides training and consultation on problem gambling policy, research and practices.
Mr. Vander Linden has more than 15 years of experience in the social work field specializing in addictions, community health and mental health. Vander Linden earned a Masters of Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.