Sharon Dodson, Business Owner

Sharon Dodson

Growing up in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Sharon Dodson learned cultural dancing and beadwork beginning in fifth grade through the Johnson O’Malley Program, an experience she shared with several of her family members, including her siblings and an uncle who served as their chanter.

“That has followed me. The songs and hymns have always been a part of our life, living in the language and the culture,” said Sharon.

Through these school programs, she felt connected to her Choctaw heritage and became inspired to work for her tribe when she grew up. Sharon’s plan to work for the Choctaw Nation was put on hold, however, when she went to work at the large Michelin tire factory in town after graduation, like many of her classmates. She ended up staying there for almost 20 years.

Sharon Dodson

She didn’t give up on her dream of getting her degree when she went straight into the workforce, though. While raising a young family and working nights at the factory, Sharon worked on her bachelor’s degree in business management a little at a time with help from the Michelin company.

By the time her oldest son started high school, Sharon needed a change. She had missed out on so much of her children’s lives that she made the decision to leave Michelin and start a business with her husband that would allow her to be more present for her family. She also set her heart on finishing her degree, a goal she accomplished at age 45, proving that dreams are reachable when a person is determined to put in the hard work of achieving them.

"When you work in a large business, there's not a whole lot of flexibility. We wanted to do better for our employees once we started our own business," she said. "We wanted to offer a job that was good pay along with the flexibility of spending time with their family."

Sharon Dodson
Sharon Dodson

After selling their tire business, the Dodsons began their second small business in fuel transportation in 2008. Sixteen years later, it’s still going strong. Sharon says one of the hallmarks of their success is how they treat their employees.

“When you work in a large business, there’s not a whole lot of flexibility. We wanted to do better for our employees once we started our own business,” she said. “We wanted to offer a job that was good pay along with the flexibility of spending time with their family.”

Although they could expand their business, Sharon says the small size allows her and her husband to have a healthy work-life balance. Their youngest son is in his senior year of high school, and she enjoys getting to go to his basketball games. She also gets to spend more time with her grandchildren.

“Our goal was to start a business where we could make a good living, and still enjoy our kids and our grandkids,” Sharon said.

Sharon Dodson

One day about thirteen years ago, Sharon happened to stop by Choctaw Nation Headquarters to see if there were any job openings. Even though she and her husband had their family business, she had never given up the hope of serving her tribe. She ended up accepting a position in the Finance Division.

“[Connie Zalenski] gave me my first opportunity here. I’ll always be grateful to her for that and also the encouragement she gave me,” said Sharon.

Today, Sharon still works for the Choctaw Nation, although her position has changed. “I’m doing what I absolutely love to do, which is tribal advocacy.”

In her current position in the Recruiting Department, Sharon helps Choctaw tribal members find employment, education resources, training, mock interviews, and even clothing for interviews. She loves getting to help tribal members who have the same dream she did to work for their tribe.

“Don’t say you can’t do it. We can help you do it. We have too many resources for our members not to achieve,” said Sharon.

"The Choctaw Nation is about faith, family, and culture, but that has always been in my life," said Sharon. "I think it's absolutely awesome. If a tribal member comes to the office and wants to pray, we can pray here. I get to do that and share our culture at work as part of my job."

Sharon Dodson
Sharon Dodson

Aside from helping tribal members one-on-one, Sharon loves being able to attend Choctaw Community Meetings, where she can meet new people and share all the resources the Tribe has to offer. She also dances with the Choctaw Nation’s dance troupe and helps teach beading at these meetings.

“The Choctaw Nation is about faith, family, and culture, but that has always been in my life,” said Sharon. “I think it’s absolutely awesome. If a tribal member comes to the office and wants to pray, we can pray here. I get to do that and share our culture at work as part of my job.”

Sharon Dodson

One of Sharon’s favorite success stories as an advocate is about a tribal member who had fallen into substance abuse and lost her children. When she hit rock bottom, she reached out to the Choctaw Nation for help. After finishing a Choctaw Nation rehabilitation program, she began the work of finding employment and getting her life back on track. She applied for dozens of jobs before she was given an opportunity to work for the Tribe. Today, she has her family back, and she helps other tribal members who may have a similar story to her own.

For Sharon, it ultimately comes down to people. "I truly do look at the Choctaw Nation as my family. That’s the way I was raised – to treat people right. It was instilled in us to help others."


Together, We're More

More than a Business Owner

Sharon Dodson shows the value of caring for her community and her neighbors through her work for the Choctaw Nation. She also serves as a reminder of the importance of compassion and servant leadership as a small business owner.