Meet Corissa Jennings: Supporting Cherokee Federal and Cherokee Citizens
Corissa Jennings has worked at Cherokee for her entire professional career. She started as a main cage cashier at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in 2008 and worked her way into an accounts payable position at Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) by 2012.
“I initially applied to work at Cherokee because it is known for being a great place to work for providing stability, competitive pay and benefits,” Corissa says. “Those things are true, but I have also found that one of the most rewarding things about Cherokee is being able to grow and move within the company.”
As the board-governed holding company that builds the tribe’s economy, CNB is comprised of companies in three, high-growth sectors including hospitality and gaming, federal contracting and cultural and economic development. Cherokee Federal is wholly owned by CNB.
After earning her bachelor’s degree and CPA certification – while working full-time for Cherokee – Corissa transitioned from an accountant to assistant controller supporting several CNB companies. Recently, she was promoted into a new role supporting all accounting for Cherokee Federal.
“Since obtaining her CPA, Corissa has been able to elevate to a managerial role due to her increased technical skills and her ability to help where needed,” says Mark Mogelnicki, senior director of operational accounting at Cherokee Federal. “Corissa is extremely thorough in her work. She makes sure to understand the need at hand and execute the deliverable with the utmost accuracy.”
As an assistant controller, Corissa supports all Cherokee Federal businesses and helps ensure the company’s accounting functions are handled consistently. In this role, she uncovered a tax deduction that saved the company a substantial amount on its construction projects.
“By reading the tax code, I was able to discover a significant exemption,” Corissa says.
Not only did Corissa’s discovery enable Cherokee to implement new processes that maximize efficiencies and improve the bottom line, but it also furthered the company’s investment in Cherokee Nation.
According to Corissa, she has had a good mentor within the Cherokee leadership team who has helped her throughout her career.
“Tiffany Quinn has enabled me to become a better accountant,” Corissa adds. “She offers invaluable insight, encourages me to ask questions, and always seeks new ways to improve our processes and work more efficiently.”
Another important part of Corissa’s job is leading an accounting team within her department.
“My first priority for developing a strong team is cross-training,” she explains. “It’s important to make sure everyone on the team has not only a backup, but also truly understands their job and how it affects the next person down the line, including other departments.”
When the Cherokee Federal operations teams are awarded contracts, Corissa and her team provide back-end office support throughout the duration of the projects.
“That’s the fun part,” Corissa says. “Each contract is different and has its own unique specifications. We work through the logistics of how the accounting will be handled. We have to provide consistency where we can across all projects no matter where they are located, and at the same time maintain the integrity and regulatory requirements of our financials.”
As a Cherokee employee for more than a decade and a Cherokee citizen, Corissa feels a sense of pride and purpose in her work.
“At the end of the day, I know that in some small way what I am doing in my job is directly helping my family, my friends and my people,” she explains. “Accounting isn’t glamorous. We don’t land the large contracts and bring in the money. But any time we find a way to reduce costs or improve a process, that savings flows down. Essentially this means more money the tribe can use to support our people.”
Corissa is currently working on her master’s degree with a concentration in international business, which she will complete in the fall of 2021.
Who We Are
Cherokee Federal is a division of Cherokee Nation Businesses, the economic engine of Cherokee Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. Its mission is to diversify and grow the economy of Cherokee Nation. Company profits support future business investments, as well as programs and services for tribal citizens. Cherokee Federal also believes in the value of a diverse workforce and in investing in the brightest talent to keep the company moving forward.