Elected in 2015 as chairman, Robert “Cita” Welch, Jr. is now serving his fourth term in office. Having previously serviced as vice chairman, Welch is well aware of the responsibilities placed upon him as chairman and leader of his Tribe.
Coming from a long line of tribal leaders and the son of an enrolled Viejas tribal member and Barona tribal member, his history of leadership spans both tribes and many generations. Welch’s great grandfather, grandmother (first Barona chairwoman), aunt, uncles, father and most recently sister, Lisa Welch-Scalco, have held the role of tribal chair or vice chair for the Barona Tribe. Additionally, his grandfather, mother (first Viejas chairwoman) and aunt have all served on the Viejas Tribal Council. Welch is also the nephew of Anthony Pico, who served as the Viejas tribal chairman for over 20 years.
In order to pursue public and political administration, Welch left an 18 year career with Viejas Casino. Being one of Viejas’ original employees, Welch held various roles and responsibilities within the casino and has a full understanding of tribal business. Throughout his scope of work, Welch held high-level positions in the Security, Off-Track Betting and Controller departments. At one time, Welch worked as the vice president of Tribal Enterprise Business Development.
Politically, Welch has served as a lobbyist for the Tribe, building relationships and gaining support with state and federal elected officials during the campaign for Propositions 5 and 1-A in 2001, which successfully granted tribes across the state the exclusive right to tribal gaming. Public speaking is a strong-suit for Welch so he continues to give presentations on Kumeyaay history and culture throughout the community.
Placing great pride in his family, Welch enjoys spending time away from his responsibilities as tribal leader with his wife, Mikelene, and 6 children. Keeping in the spirit of leadership, his children, ranging in age from 30 to 15, have begun to follow in Welch family footsteps. Among them, Vanessa completed a Fine Arts degree at Michigan State, Cameron currently works at the Viejas Casino warehouse and is active in tribal politics, and Christopher recently completed 5 years in the United States Marine Corps and is now enrolled in college. His youngest, Thomas, will be attending CSULA in the fall and Jacqueline will be a high school sophomore and class president in the fall.