NASHVILLE - The Board of Directors of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation today named veteran U.S. lottery executive and startup specialist Rebecca Paul to serve as the Corporation's first chief executive officer.
Paul, who currently is president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, comes to Tennessee with an unprecedented record of success in lottery management and marketing. In a public-gaming career spanning 18 years, she jumpstarted the Illinois Lottery from stagnant growth, set industry sales records while launching the Florida Lottery and then broke those same records while starting up the Georgia Lottery.
"Rebecca Paul is widely recognized as the best CEO in the lottery industry, bar none," said Denny Bottorff, chairman of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. "Her unparalleled skills and experience will ensure that Tennessee's historic lottery startup moves ahead with the absolute strongest management and the highest integrity."
Paul is scheduled to begin work full-time no later than October 1 with the goal of starting up Tennessee's lottery by February 17. Her base salary will be $350,000 a year. Additionally, Paul will be eligible to earn incentives totaling up to 115% of her base salary if she meets aggressive deadline and net revenue goals designed to give Tennessee the best lottery startup in U.S. history, and pour tens of millions of additional dollars into education programs.
Under the compensation package, Paul remains the highest-paid lottery CEO in the country. "The decisions that will be made in the next few months will determine the fate of Tennessee's education lottery for years to come," Bottorff said. "There is no margin for error here. We have hired the most qualified and capable lottery manager in the world in order to make sure that we get a flawless startup and stellar long-term performance."
Board Vice Chairman Jim Hill, who helped lead the CEO selection, said the executive search process was driven by the unique demands of launching a brand-new lottery and by the Board's charge to maximize net lottery proceeds for scholarships.
"The General Assembly passed an ambitious and worthwhile program to fund college scholarships for the students of Tennessee," Hill said. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission estimates more than 65,000 students will be eligible to receive $88 million in scholarships by the fall of 2004. "We knew we needed an aggressive business leader who will work around the clock in the coming months to meet that goal," Hill said.
The CEO selection process began shortly after the Board met for the first time on July 21.
To identify the top managers in the business, Board members early on examined broad financial-performance measures among all 39 existing U.S. lotteries. Then, focusing on factors including startup experience and overall reputation, Board members by mid-August narrowed the field to 15 prospective candidates. By the end of August, various Board members had spoken with or interviewed a total of 10 lottery executives from across the country.
Paul entered the list of finalists on September 3, after the Board declined to pursue a proposed joint venture with the Georgia Lottery. "Part of the appeal of a joint venture with Georgia was the opportunity to work with an innovative lottery professional like Rebecca Paul," Bottorff said. "If our two lotteries can't work together to produce more scholarship dollars for students in both states, we thought the next best thing would be to steal her away so that Tennessee can benefit from her vast knowledge and expertise."
By Thursday, the field of candidates had been narrowed to a diverse group of four finalists, including Paul. On Friday evening, the Board voted unanimously to offer her the CEO job. She accepted late yesterday.
"I am honored to make the move to Tennessee," Paul said. "This is a diverse state with a great tradition of success in education, innovation and marketing. To me, there is nothing more exciting or more rewarding than starting up a new lottery from scratch to support vital education programs."
She added: "I'm looking forward to working with the Board, the General Assembly, the Governor and members of the business and educational communities to make the Tennessee Lottery the best-run lottery in the world for students of the state."
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