Being raised in a household with high expectations isn’t always an easy thing. With parents who are well-recognized for their contributions to the community, the presumption of higher achievement can be a difficult set of shoes to fill. Fortunately for Ricky Gourrier, Sr., he was able to meet that challenge and carve out a road of success that perfectly complimented his own set of skills and expertise.
“Your parents are never cool. I don’t care just how ‘cool’ they actually are. They force you to read certain books, make you go to church, or drag you to civic events, and that stuff is never cool to you. Then, one day, years later, you look up and realize that all that time you were learning by osmosis. You don’t appreciate those things until you get older,” Gourrier considers. “My father did so much while I was growing up. He was a part of so many great things, and now that I know enough to look back on it, I wonder. How did he accomplish so much while raising a family with seven children?!”
Ricky’s father is none other than Dr. Al Gourrier, Sr. He is a retired principal, as well as a celebrated keynote speaker. Having been inducted into the Clark County School District Hall of Fame in 1992, Dr. Gourrier was an innovator within the school system. He also achieved notoriety for working in radio broadcasting for a number of years, and, since retiring from the school district, he has been a leader in community education and activism.
Originally from New Orleans, Dr. Gourrier moved his family to Las Vegas in 1989. He met Sam Smith, the owner of the Native Son Bookstore, upon arriving, and they became close friends and partners in the efforts to improve the quality of life of African-Americans and less fortunate people in the community. He hasn’t slowed down since, helping to create the Samuel L. Smith Educational Foundation to honor the legacy of his friend and hosting events around the valley to help people acquire knowledge of self and build a positive self-image.
Included in the achievements of Dr. Gourrier’s seven children are six master’s degrees, one Juris Doctorate, and one PhD. Being a teacher herself, Ricky’s mother, Beverly, stressed the importance of furthering their education to all of her kids.
“I was the child that Mom wasn’t quite sure would make it through college,” Ricky admits, sheepishly. Knowing that his parents encouraged all the children to branch out and pursue their independence by attending schools outside of the city, Ricky chose the closest one possible and attended the University of Nevada, Reno. He explored a career in radio, following in his father’s footsteps. Working for KWNZ and DJ’ing the Saturday Night Hot Mix, Ricky found his focus lacking in the area of his studies. Failing in his studies at UNR, Ricky knew that he had to finish school. He moved back to Las Vegas and began studying Radio Broadcasting at UNLV.
A friend encouraged Gourrier to diversify his studies. He insisted that by adding Public Relations to his portfolio and pursuing a Journalism and Media Studies degree instead would make more sense. Working towards a degree in Radio Broadcasting would be redundant after he’d already gotten experience in that field. The first semester of his senior year, a professor presented an opportunity to work in Washington DC for United States Senator Harry Reid.
“I knew nothing about politics. I was never interested before that, but when I told my father, he said that this was one of those opportunities that would change my life,” Gourrier recalls.
Ricky Gourrier took advantage of the chance to work as a paid intern in the Communications Department for Senator Harry Reid, who was the Senate Minority Leader at the time. It was a unique position for him to be in, especially because the year was 2005. Ricky had spent his early childhood years in New Orleans before moving to Las Vegas, and 2005 was the year that Hurricane Katrina hit his family’s hometown. As he sat in an office in the Capitol Building – one of the most powerful places in the country – facing ten large televisions, he watched the storm play out and felt utterly helpless to do anything to help some of the people he loved the most who still resided there, including his eldest sister, Lisa Williams.
With grandparents who were in the VA hospital in New Orleans and had no communication, and a sister who had to do an emergency evacuation, leaving many of her possessions behind, the tragedy was heart-breaking. Ricky’s grandmother was evacuated from the hospital the morning after his grandfather, who was a double amputee, passed away when the hospital lost power. It was then that Ricky knew he had to do something with his life to give back. Senator Reid and his staff were extremely supportive and compassionate during that time. They put together a collection of clothes, household goods, and money and shipped it to Ricky’s family who were affected.
The experience of working in the nation’s capital changed Ricky Gourrier’s life in more ways than one. Along with inspiring him to give the world of politics a chance, he met his future wife, Jennifer Lopez, in Sen. Reid’s office, as well. They both shared the same major and even the same mentor, Professor John Naccarato of UNLV. In fact, Ricky shares that what truly piqued his interest in politics was his wife’s involvement and success within the political system. While Gourrier had experience working in different organizations over the years, including the Boy Scouts of America, various non-profit organizations, and even within the educational system, but he began to see through Jennifer’s work that in order to truly make a massive impact, changes needed to be made on a grander scale. Politics was the way to positively affect people’s lives and make a real difference.
Among the many jobs that Jennifer held over the years were Public Information Officer for Nevada Attorney General (at the time) Catherine Cortez Masto, and Nevada State Director for Organizing for America under President Obama’s administration. Being connected to Jennifer gave Ricky a front row seat to how things were accomplished on a federal and state level. He was introduced to many of the policy makers in Nevada and was therefore able to develop his own relationships with them.
“My wife is one of those people that they call the ‘salt-of-the-earth’, you know? Just good people. Our marriage has thrived for ten years due to the mutual respect and appreciation that we have for one another. We know how to communicate. I had great role models in my parents,” Gourrier reveals. His wife and he have one son, RJ, who is six years old.
Knowing that he wanted to create a vehicle to give back to the community in the most effective way possible, Ricky Gourrier, Sr. and Eddie Ablesser founded Tri-Strategies, LTD., a government relations and public affairs firm, in 2017. Utilizing integrity, leadership, and grit, the company develops and implements lobbying and advocacy strategies on the local, state, and federal levels. They also manage communications and community engagement for clients. Gourrier is an education policy expert, ensuring that parents are afforded options and opportunities when it comes to the schooling of their children.
“I’m really proud of starting a firm that stands firm on what we believe in. We aren’t chasing business, and we refuse to compromise our integrity simply to gain new business,” Ricky states.
In his free time, Ricky Gourrier volunteers as the Vice Chairman on the Salvation Army board of directors and sits on the board of directors for the Brave and Beautiful Blood Cancer Foundation. He is a proud member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Ricky takes joy in working as a crossing guard at his son’s school every morning.
Recognizing the strides that he and his firm have made in the community, Gourrier was most recently awarded recognition in the annual 40 Under 40 Awards presented by Vegas, Inc for 2020. This distinction is given to forty exemplary business leaders and professionals who are under the age of forty and have proven their ability to drive the economy and demonstrate dynamic leadership.
“Without mentors and positive role models like my father, Professor John Naccarato, and my personal mentor, Mr. Uri Clinton, I couldn’t have gotten where I am today,” Gourrier explains. Uri Clinton is the current president of Nevada Partners. He was first a mentee of Ricky’s father, and later became someone that Ricky would look to emulate in many ways. “Uri is one of the most intelligent people I know. He took the time to take me under his wing and help me mold my business acumen.”
Reflecting on the many ways that his father’s legacy plays into the life that Ricky Gourrier leads today, he says, “My dad taught me so many things. I learned how to give back to my community through my father’s lesson that ‘the only thing in life you get back is what you give away’. Also, ‘as you go down the road of life, you plant seeds so that when you come back you can bear the fruit’. But I think that one of the most important lessons my father taught me was that ‘the most powerful information you can have is the knowledge of self’.”
To learn more about how Ricky Gourrier Sr. and Tri-Strategies LTD. can assist you, please visit http://tri-strategies.com.