Cherokee Federal employee and veteran

Meet Johnny Valdez: Recruiting and mentoring top talent to support Cherokee Federal clients 

August 19, 2021

Johnny Valdez joined the U.S. Navy after becoming a young father because he felt it was the best decision for his new family. During his 11 years of active duty and two years in the Navy Reserve as an aircrewman, aviation mechanic and recruiter, he discovered his passion for leadership and mentorship.


“As a Navy recruiter, I was able to mentor some of the young men and women who enlisted,” Johnny says. “With guidance, they were able to achieve success in the service, benefit from their service, and continue to do great things. That was when I saw how recruiting and mentoring go hand in hand.”


Johnny also learned about the importance of teamwork, accountability and training from his tenure with the Navy. He was able to put these valuable skills to use in his civilian career, but he found the transition to corporate America to be challenging. 


“It was tough,” Johnny recalls. “There weren’t as many job programs for veterans as there are now. Some of my hurdles were learning how to find a job, interviewing and working outside of a structured environment.”


Johnny was able to overcome those hurdles and use his experience as a veteran, recruiter and mentor to continue to help others. 


“My advice to service members transitioning to a civilian career is to really plan ahead,” says Johnny. “Build your network with an organization that services veterans and don’t be afraid to share your experience with other veterans.”


In 2020, Johnny joined Cherokee Federal as a health and sciences senior recruiter in the company’s San Antonio, Texas office. He sources and recruits research scientists, nurses and specialists in laboratory research to work on studies for the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at, Fort Detrick and in labs throughout the U.S. that support research for the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.


According to Johnny’s supervisor, Katherine Vilfordi, a senior talent acquisition lead for health at Cherokee Federal, Johnny is a hard worker and a valuable team member. 


“Johnny has become the go-to person on his team for sourcing candidates for positions that are hard to fill,” Katherine adds. “As a veteran, he understands how tough it can be for those leaving the military for civilian life. He wants all of the people he works with to feel like they are his top priority.”


Johnny joined Cherokee Federal because he wanted to be part of a company that has a greater mission beyond the bottom line. He says Cherokee’s leadership team is one of the best he has worked for. 


“The most impressive thing to me has been the company’s mission of serving a higher purpose,” he adds. “The leadership team demonstrates this in the workplace every day, and my work impacts the overall goal of the company and the contracts we service.”


Cherokee Federal’s technically skilled and driven team of more than 3,300 employees are focused on building next-generation technologies, solving complex challenges and serving more than 60 federal agencies globally. Join our team and make an immediate impact.




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.


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