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Meet Charlene Edwards: Planning Events, Vaccine Clinics

Over the course of her 24-year career with Turning Stone Resort Casino, Charlene Edwards has put together all sorts of fancy programs and exciting events for the Oneida Indian Nation.

One could argue that few of them have been more important than her latest accomplishment.

Earlier this year, in partnership with Oneida County where Turning Stone is located, the executive accounts manager and systems administrator spearheaded the resort’s effort to set up temporary COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the Event Center. Over the course of several weeks, the clinic inoculated thousands of guests and Turning Stone employees—a big step on the road toward putting the pandemic behind us.

Edwards handled every aspect of the efforts, from designing guest flow through the space to organizing personal protective equipment for volunteers. She coordinated with security on traffic and cleaning staff to keep surfaces safe and clean, and worked with Information Technology so Oneida County health officials could connect to the Internet. In all, more than 30 Turning Stone employees assisted with the clinic, and all of them reported to Edwards.

“I was proud that we were able to host something like this at Turning Stone,” she said afterward. “I’m excited to get back to normal—not just here at the resort, but also personally, with my family.”

When Edwards isn’t spearheading vaccine clinics, she’s organizing other events; everything from high-profile golf tournaments and galas for the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation to weddings and corporate meetings. Edwards handles every aspect of these events, from planning to execution and breakdown.

One of her fondest accomplishments: Organizing the 2001 boxing match between Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, daughters of boxing legends Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

The particulars of Edwards’ job certainly were different over the last 15 months. While most events pivoted into virtual space, some clients still came to Turning Stone to have a portion of the program in real life. Public health guidelines necessitated social distancing in group settings, as well as beverage service (instead of bar service) and prepackaged food. The annual Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation Basketball gala was one of these hybrid events in 2021, and Edwards pulled it off with aplomb.

Looking forward, Edwards said she’s excited to see the new amenities and attractions Turning Stone Resort Casino adds over the next few years. Because she oversees technology in her role as systems administrator, she’s also looking forward to rolling out a new reservation system for group guests.

Whatever comes her way on the work front, Edwards knows it won’t be boring. “There’s always something new going on around here,” she said.

“There’s no question that’s my favorite part of the job.”

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