After 40 years of federal service, Mary Wachacha, an EBCI tribal member, has retired from the Indian Health Service.
She began her federal career in June 1971 when she joined the Peace Corps and served for two and a half as a Professor at a women’s college in Kasserine, Tunisia. Upon returning to Cherokee in 1975, Wachacha was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as an elementary school teacher for the Cherokee Central School system.
In August 1988, she transferred to the Indian Health Service working at the Cherokee Indian Hospital as a Health Educator. In 1990, Wachacha was promoted to the Nashville Area IHS Office as the Area Consultant for the Office of Health Programs. In 1997, she was promoted to the IHS headquarters office in Rockville, MD where she served as the Director of the Community Health Representative (CHR) Program. In 2000, she was selected to serve as the Program Director for the Office of Clinical and Community Services supervising eight IHS Programs: Medical Records, Nutrition, HIV/AIDS, Pharmacy, Head Start, Maternal and Child Health, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, as well as Health Education.
In 2003, Wachacha was granted permission to work from Cherokee to serve as the Lead Consultant for IHS headquarters providing leadership, training and oversight to tribal and IHS program across IHS on a wide variety of health care issues. Throughout her tenure with IHS, she also was a Budget Writer for the IHS and assisted in the submission of budget justifications, reports, statistics and data to Congress. As Lead Consultant, Wachacha supervised approximately 75 employees and was responsible for the administration of a $19 million dollar budget.
She is married to Arnold Wachacha, and they have four grown children and three grandchildren. They live in the Yellowhill community on the Qualla Boundary.
– Mary Wachacha