Ron Patel, general manager of Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne, was named the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year for 2011.
Patel has worked in gaming for the past 38 years and has worked in commercial, charitable and Indian casinos all over the world. He has been general manager of Black Oak Casino since it opened in 2001 and successfully guided the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and Black Oak through phases one and two of the casino’s opening.
Under his management, the casino grew from a one-story, 22,500-square-foot building to a three-story, 167,000-square-foot building by 2005.
In addition to his work at Black Oak, Patel heads up the casino’s sponsorship and donation committee, which contributes to nonprofit groups, local sports, education and community service organizations.
He provides leadership to many community organizations and serves as co-chairman of the annual benefit for Meals on Wheels. He has also served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Stage 3 Theatre and Sierra Senior Services.
In addition, he volunteers his time for other community events, private fundraisers and Habitat for Humanity of Tuolumne County.
For the past 20 years, Patel has worked as a consultant for various Indian tribes in California, New York, Washington and Arizona.
Patel was born and raised in the United Kingdom. He left England in 1989 for Canada before moving to New York in the early 1990s to work for the Oneida Indian Nation and help open the Tuning Stone Casino.
He and his wife, Anne, have been married for the past 37 years and have a 31-year-old son and a 27-year-old daughter who both live in Albuquerque, N.M.
Each year, the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce presents its “Best of Tuolumne County Awards.” The awards ceremony will be held on Nov. 18 at the annual installation and honors banquet at the Sonora Elks Lodge.