TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced this week he has named Jennifer Kirby as the Executive Director of Human Services.

Kirby, of Oaks, has served as the interim executive director of Human Services since January 2021, and in the department since 2006.

“Jennifer Kirby has a heart for service. She has the experience to lead and the skills to meet the challenges of creating a caring safety net to help lift up Cherokees in need,” Chief Hoskin said. “She demonstrated all this as interim executive director during the COVID-19 pandemic, which called upon the Human Services department to administer new programs and millions of dollars in assistance to help mitigate the continuing impact of this unprecedented public health crisis. Jennifer is more than ready to lead this vital department.” 

Kirby began her career with the Cherokee Nation by serving in a leadership development program that explored various areas of Cherokee Nation; government, hospitality, gaming, industry, and business development with Cherokee Nation Enterprises. She was then placed in Human Services eventually becoming the Family Assistance Director in October 2016.

“I am honored to be asked to serve as Executive Director of Human Services. I believe Chief Hoskin is one of the most dedicated servant leaders I have ever worked with,” Kirby said. “To have this vote of confidence from the Chief and Administration, to serve in this capacity, is truly a proud, honorable moment for me. It is a pleasure to serve alongside this team of servant leaders.” 

Kirby became the acting executive director of Human Services after former director Marsha Lamb retired in 2021. 

“I would like to express gratitude to two Cherokee women that taught me about work ethic and being strong, my maternal grandmother and mother,” Kirby said. “I also want to recognize Cherokee women that have paved the way and proven the capabilities of women in leadership roles, Marsha Lamb, and Tina Glory Jordan. Both have been great mentors and teachers to me and many others.”

Kirby oversees 397 employees that help operate Family Assistance, Elder Services, Food Distribution, Child Care & Development, Child Support, Indian Child Welfare, and Youth Services & Special Programs. Child care and food distribution are just a few of the areas of Human Services that will see growth in the coming years. 

“Human Services is an integral department for the Cherokee people,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “Strong visionary leadership is needed to provide comfort to Cherokees in need and offer them a hand up. Jennifer Kirby can provide that leadership.”

Kirby graduated from Northeastern State University in 2004 with a B.S. in Education. She received a Bachelors in Business Administration in 2018 and a Masters of Business Administration in 2020.

“I appreciate Jennifer and all the Human Services staff that work tirelessly each day,” Secretary of State Tina Glory Jordan said. “Through her leadership and the department’s hard work it helps many citizens when they are most in need.”