David Stewart named Cherokee Nation Industries CEO
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Feb. 10 memo to Cherokee Nation Industries employees, David Stewart is the company’s new chief executive officer as former CEO Bryan Collins steps into a chief operating officer role.
The move makes Stewart CEO for CNI, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and Cherokee Nation Businesses and was approved by the boards of all three entities.
“There are good leaders on the ground at each of these businesses that have day-to-day responsibility for creating jobs for Cherokees and making a profit,” Stewart said. “My job is to make each one of our companies as successful and profitable as they can be, and having CNI more closely aligned with the overall strategy will help them and the rest of the Nation’s businesses.”
Stewart, a CN citizen from Sallisaw, served as CNI CEO from 2001-02 before becoming CNE CEO in 2002. He holds a master’s degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant.
“David Stewart is highly qualified to execute the Cherokee Nation’s business plans. He has a tremendous track record of success, creating thousands of jobs and generating record profits for Cherokee Nation-owned companies in his tenure,” David Ballew, CNI board chairman, said.
Ballew said Stewart’s compensation did not increase and that part of the role of the CNB CEO is to work with CNI and all CN-owned businesses. He said the change is one of several being made to allow CNB and its subsidiaries to become more efficient.
“For some time there has been a tremendous amount of focus on leveraging CNB’s shared services capabilities, which currently include support in areas such as legal, business development, audit and communications,” Ballew said. “Across the country, companies are being forced to find new ways to become more efficient in an ever-changing economy, and we believe this change helps CNB and its companies do just that.”
Ballew said ownership of CNI was transferred to CNB in 2008, two years following the same move by CNE, and that both entities report to CNB. He said since CNB is charged with having a business strategy for the entire tribe, it makes sense to have one CEO implementing that vision across each entity.
“This reporting structure helps streamline processes and efficiencies across all entities. The idea is to have a unified strategy and common vision for each of the Cherokee Nation’s business entities, and this is the best way to accomplish that,” Ballew said. “We’re sensitive to what we are asking David Stewart to do, but we also know that he has many highly qualified, competent Cherokee people helping him every day. This structure also eliminates duplication in resources and improves consistency across all of the companies.”
Though no longer CEO, Collins will run CNI’s daily operations and report to Stewart. He also will run all CNI-managed companies, which include telecommunications, distribution, medical services and manufacturing businesses, as the CEO/president.
“In his new role, Bryan Collins will be able to sharpen his focus on the CNI-managed companies, while leveraging the cross functional skills and knowledge of David Stewart,” Ballew said. “We feel these changes will further improve and expand our core businesses and will allow us to protect the future of our most valuable resource, the employees of CNI.”