Vann retires after more than 4 decades with Cherokee Federal

September 22, 2021

“It’s what kept me going.”


These are the words Mary Vann repeated over and over as she reflected on the past 44 years working for Cherokee Federal.


Mary began her career with Cherokee Nation Industries (CNI), Cherokee Nation’s first enterprise, which was formed specifically to provide meaningful employment in Adair County, Oklahoma. CNI eventually became a part of Cherokee Federal’s engineering and manufacturing sector, supporting federal and commercial clients. 


Over the years, there were many things that kept Mary going, including providing for her family, supporting the warfighter and the meaningful relationships she developed with her team. Through her employment with CNI, Mary was able to provide for her family.


“I had kids in school and this job put food on the table, clothes on my kids back and put some even through college,” Mary said.


Mary knew there were others who depended on her as well. As a production associate, Mary worked on equipment she knew eventually made its way to enlisted members of the United States military. Ensuring their safety kept Mary going.


“I knew what I did impacted others people’s lives,” she said. “I knew there were people who depended on what I did and I wanted to make sure I was careful, worked hard and that they were safe.”


Cherokee Federal’s engineering and manufacturing sector provides products and staffing solutions to some of the largest companies in the world, as well as serving the needs of the U.S. warfighter, federal agencies and global organizations such as the Department of Defense, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky and even NASA’s International Space Station.


Cherokee Nation CND Line Manager, and Mary’s last supervisor, Sherri Deason, could tell the work Mary did was personal to her.


“She was glad she had a hand in what she did for the soldiers, the warfighters,” Deason said. “Not everyone understands what we do for the military, but she did and she was glad to serve in this way.”


Working with her team was also personal for Mary because of the bonds she formed over the years. After four decades with the company, her relationships with her coworkers kept Mary going.


“They were more family than my own at times,” Mary said. “I couldn’t ask for better bosses. Spending 44 years somewhere is a long time. They are my friends and I’m going to miss them. They are what kept me going.”


Deason said the feeling is mutual among Mary’s work family and that she, too, will miss Mary.


“She is dedicated. She could work circles around some of these younger employees,” Deason said. “Mary had a lot of knowledge, did everything I asked and was always asking for what is next when she finished her tasks.”


Mary retired on Sept. 15 and celebrated her birthday on Sept. 20. Happy retirement, Mary, and a very happy birthday.


Who We Are


Cherokee Nation Industries was formed in the summer of 1969 in Stilwell, Oklahoma. Today, it is a part of Cherokee Federal.


Cherokee Federal, a division of Cherokee Nation Businesses, is a team of tribally owned federal contracting companies that serve more than 60 federal clients. Our team of more than 3,300 employees has completed more than 5,300 federal missions in more than 20 countries.


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