ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- There are many changes at Atlantic City's Borgata given the pandemic, but new President Melonie Johnson is the real game-changer. She's the first Black woman ever to hold the top position in the gaming industry in the city.
"Sometimes it's overwhelming--meaning the excitement that I have, knowing where I came from and seeing where I came today, sometimes I want to pinch myself," Johnson said.
Johnson credits her success to her humble background growing up Lacombe, Louisiana.
"It was extremely difficult for a Black person, let alone a Black woman getting a professional-level job. I went on interview after interview, turned down," she said.
But Johnson stayed focus, climbing up the corporate ladder, now leading the Borgata during the challenge of COVID-19. And it's not the first time she's made history and broken barriers.
"In 2015, MGM Resorts International hired me as the property President for Goldstrike in Mississippi which that's the first Black woman president ever at that property," Johnson said.
And a 2018 LeanIn.org and McKinsey Women in the workplace study really puts in perspective why Johnson being the president of a major casino is significant.
It shows in the U.S. at the executive level, 68% are white men, only 9% men of color. For women-- 19% are white women and women of color are only 4%.
"I established relationships and I became Melonie, not the only Black person for the company and as I changed jobs I followed that same format," Johnson said.
And in addition to being a power player, Johnson is a wife, mom and grandmother. Even with the challenge of the pandemic she wants people to see the Borgata as the destination to relax and have some fun.