In her own words: Beth Cooney, John Ascuaga’s Nugget |

In her own words: Beth Cooney, John Ascuaga’s Nugget

NNBW staff

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

Beth Cooney: I work for John, Michonne and Stephen Ascuaga, a wonderful family of genuine, down-to-earth people. The Nugget opened in 1955 as a small coffee shop with a few slot machines. Under John Ascuaga’s ownership, it has flourished into a major resort-casino with 1,500 employees, 1,540 hotel rooms, Olympic-size pool, 1,200 slot machines, table games, nine restaurants, five entertainment venues and more. The Ascuagas also take pride in the community and are great supporters of education through the Nugget Scholarship Program; feeding the hungry by providing the entire Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for St. Vincent’s Dining Room; and much more.

NNBW: What role do you play?

Cooney: I am on the executive committee which determines much of the direction and policies for the company. I oversee the general consumer marketing areas of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, web marketing, special events and entertainment. In addition, I represent the Nugget and industry in the community, most recently being appointed to the RSCVA board.

NNBW: How did you get into this?

Cooney: I was always interested in art and business, landing on the pursuit of a career in advertising when I was in high school. I wound up in the journalism department at UNR, because that was where the advertising career program was at that time.

NNBW: What is something no one knows about your job?

Cooney: It’s fun because it changes every day. I work with a very talented team the best I’ve ever worked with who have to come up with creative solutions every day to meet our business needs.

NNBW: If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?

Cooney: Advertising was always my first choice. Becoming an artist is also a profession that appealed to me. I didn’t pursue it because I didn’t think it was a viable career option, and I prefer to work in a group. Of course, Grandma Moses didn’t start painting pictures until she was in her 70s, so there’s still time!

NNBW: How do you spend your time away from the office?

Cooney: Just under two years ago, I started taking classes in fused glass art with Rachel Salvagione through WCSD Community Education. I fell in love with it and have spent all my spare time since creating glass works of art. My pieces can be found at the Nevada Museum of Art, the Nugget Gift Shop and on line at

NNBW: Do you have a favorite vacation memory?

Cooney: My husband, Ron, and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in 2006 with a trip to Europe. We went to Barcelona, Provence, Paris and London and had a marvelous time. We especially enjoyed Provence.

NNBW: Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?

Cooney: I think the strong work ethic my parents instilled in me has been one of their most valuable lessons. My brother and I both worked from an early age helping with our family’s pinball and juke box business. They instilled a love for work in me that has not only served me well, but made life more enjoyable.

NNBW: What is the quirkiest or oddest job you’ve ever had?

Cooney: When I was in college, I worked part time at the Reno Gazette-Journal as a dummy. I think the official title was “page make-up,” but everyone called it a dummy. The job entailed dummying the paper every day that is determining how many pages it was, where the ads were placed and where the color would run. I’ve actually drawn on the knowledge I learned about printing press mechanics many times in my career.

NNBW: What person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with, and why?

Cooney: Condoleezza Rice. I think it would be fascinating to hear her perspective on being on the inside at the White House and working with world leaders.

NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Cooney: Nobody cares what you did yesterday focus on what you’re doing today and what you’ll achieve tomorrow.

NNBW: What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?

Cooney: I like the smart, creative people I work with and the fact that it constantly changes. What I like least is there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done that I’d like to accomplish.

NNBW: What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

Cooney: I’d like to be remembered as a kind person who made good things happen. And, just maybe, as a great artist.

The basics

Name: Beth Cooney, executive director of marketing, John Ascuaga’s Nugget

How long have you been in this job? 10 years

How long in the profession? 25-plus years

Education: BA in Journalism from UNR, graduated in 1984 as Beth Gillmann

Best book you’ve read? My husband, Ron Cooney, just self-published a humor book entitled “Lost Lies of History.” Very funny stuff.

The best movie ever? “The English Patient”

What’s on your iPod? John Mayer, Taylor Swift, KT Tunstall, Telemann’s Flute Concertos


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