Valencia Henderson

Purchasing Manager

Valencia Henderson, Purchasing Manager for Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, grew up in Twin Lakes, New Mexico. Her maternal clan is Tódík’ǫ́zhí (Salt Water Clan) and her paternal clan is Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People Clan). Henderson’s maternal grandfather was of the Áshįįhi (Salt People Clan) and her paternal grandparents were of the Mą’ii deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass-Jemez People Clan). Her great-grandmother had a tough time saying her name so she called Valencia baby Cia. The name Valencia was given to her by one of her aunts, and her aunts still call her Cia.

Her first job at age 14 was at the Port of Entry Weigh Station located in Sanders, Arizona.

“Working at the Port of Entry was very fun, and I learned a lot from my supervisor,” Henderson said.

She chose a career in computer science because her father told her technology was the future.

“However, as I progressed in various job opportunities, I found purchasing to be unique,” Henderson said. “So I am currently enrolled at the University of Phoenix pursuing my BA in Business Administration with a Certificate in Leadership Management.”

Henderson said she first heard about Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise when she was an Accounting/Purchasing Clerk with the Navajo Nation Controllers Office.

“I worked with Mr. Ramsey Harrison at NNOOC, we would always meet up at the coffee/tea stationevery morning,” she said. “One day he informed me of a new enterprise that was gearing up to start and they were looking for people to recruit. I applied for the Purchasing Clerk position. I thank Mr. Ramsey Harrison for recommending NNGE to hire me, I think it was my great work ethic and demeanor that I was lucky to be selected.”

Henderson said she was assigned to work closely with Ms. Mary West, the Project Manager, and Linda West, the Accounting Manager.

“I learned a lot from Ms. Mary West, I give her credit for her patience with me during the beginning and providing the knowledge I needed to succeed,” she said. “She is a great mentor and her guidance and straight-forward tactics made me understand what Navajo Gaming was all about and made me who I am today. As of today, I look up to Ms. Mary West and do not go a day without stopping by her office to chat and share photos of our children and grandchildren.”

Henderson served as a purchasing clerk and also helped Payroll Supervisor Earlinda Bitsoi complete manual timecards for their first payroll. She said she feels very fortunate to be part of the original team.

“How fun that was!” she said. “Hard work, long hours, and some very interesting events. I appreciate everything and there is still more to learn.”

Henderson said later she was selected as the buyer at the corporate office and in 2023 she was promoted to the interim purchasing manager, working closely with the director of purchasing.

The top skills she has learned include understanding gaming overall, learning about the various vendor licenses, working with various financial systems, shipping and receiving skills, and OSHA/Health Inspection requirements.

Henderson also said she learned how to build great teamwork and being open to new processes.

She’s had many mentors, including Ms. Mary West, Mr. Ramsey Harrison, Ms. Cecilia Au, Mr. Adam Parker, Ms. Christine McLain, Mr. Karl Jim, and Ms. Phefelia Bradley.

“They continue to assist me with any questions and point me in the right direction,” she said. “This is a tough job as well. Everyone has an impact on me and I appreciate every one of them.”

She said her biggest challenge was opening all the casinos, making sure all of the orders arrived and putting everything in place.

“It was stressful at times, and we worked very long hours but we made it happen,” Henderson said. “Also, COVID-19 was a challenging time. Talk about the unknowns and stressful days, but together we got through.”

She started at Fire Rock Navajo Casino in 2008, which was close to her home. When the opportunity for Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort was available she moved to Flagstaff, AZ with her two children.

“My son was seven months old when I started at Fire Rock and my daughter was four years old,” she said. “Moving to Flagstaff was an opportunity not just for me but also for my children as well. It was the first time I moved away from family. That was challenging from the beginning, but we made it. Now my son is 16 years old, and my daughter is 21, with her own family now.”

Henderson has taken all the opportunities of available benefits and training offered.

Her advice to someone just starting out at Navajo Gaming is to be open to change, take the time to learn new skills, challenge yourself, work hard and gain every opportunity you can.

“Don’t take corrective criticism personally and always have fun,” said Henderson, who enjoys the outdoors, hiking, camping, and being with her family. “I especially enjoy being with my little sidekick – my grandson. He keeps me on my toes and I love it.”

She thanks the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Family for the opportunity they have given to her.

“I appreciate everything you do for our Team and making it the best for all of us,” she said. “To our original crew, what a ride! We did it and are pulling forward.”