Spotlight on a Native-Owned Business: Apela Strategic Solutions
Apela Strategic Solutions is located in Stratford, Oklahoma and is a full-service human resources and benefits and healthcare consulting firm. Founded by Choctaw Nation member Tena Jolley, the firm specializes in Native American-sponsored health plans. During the Coronavirus pandemic, Apela solutions transitioned to offer its services virtually while also managing an influx of clients. While initially working with businesses to ensure that furloughed employees were able to apply for and receive benefits, Apela Solutions is now working with those same businesses to bring back employees as the economy rebounds. At the same time, Apela is finding new ways to support frontline healthcare workers with additional resources. It’s no surprise that Apela takes its name from the Choctaw word for help.
We hope you enjoy our interview with Tena Jolley and Apela Strategic Solutions!
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Tena Jolley, I am the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Apela Strategic Solutions and a citizen of the Choctaw Tribe. I hold a master’s degree in Human Resources Administration and Public Health, Healthcare Administration and Policy. I spent approximately 25 years working for the Chickasaw Nation, most of which was in the benefits & human resources divisions. During my tenure with the Chickasaw Nation, it became abundantly clear that there was a need for those who understood the unique complexities of tribal organizations and who are truly dedicated to serving their population.
2. Tell us about Apela Strategic Solutions.
Apela Strategic Solutions is a full-service human resources, benefits and healthcare consulting firm specializing in, but not limited to, Native American-sponsored health plans. Apela is the Choctaw word for help, it’s from that servant’s heart that Apela was founded on November 1, 2018. Apela’s current book of business includes a wide range of industries of predominantly small to mid-sized groups, both native and non-native owned.
Our services include human resources consulting, healthcare access solutions and strategies, and benefits cost-containment strategies.
3. How have you been managing your business during the pandemic?
At the beginning of the pandemic I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. However, it didn’t take long to realize that I needed to prepare for virtual meetings because even during the pandemic our business continued to grow. The growth has been organic through word of mouth, but our services especially in the employee relations arena have just exploded.
As companies were downsizing and furloughing employees, I was contacted by several small business owners who were in that same position and wanted to retain our services to assist with the downsizing/furlough process, but also wanted us to help ensure their employees had the best chance to take advantage of all of the things available to them, such as: unemployment, insurance, and employee assistance programs. Those small businesses that we assisted during their downsizing are now utilizing us for the onboarding services as they are able to bring their employees back.
We continued offering Apela Solutions’ full suite of services consistently throughout the pandemic and have become more efficient in how we conduct business. I attribute the continued success to my belief that God always provides. There was a time early on in the pandemic when I wasn’t sure that all of my clients would be able to pay for our services, but we continued to honor our commitments of serving them to the best of our ability in their time of need, regardless of ability to pay. I continued believing that God would meet our needs as we worked diligently serving others. I believe that God honors faithfulness and it’s his divine hand that has caused Apela to thrive in the midst of everything going on in the world.
4. What community events are you involved in?
We are a Member of the Society of Human Resource Management as well as holding membership with the Oklahoma Health Care Alliance, American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and WellOK.
5. Are you planning to expand your business?
Yes, we are currently working on developing a curriculum designed to give respite, relief, and provide additional coping skills and resources for front line workers specifically in the mental health arena.
6. Anything else you want to include? How can people learn more about your business?
Apela’s core values include: Honesty, Integrity, Diligence, Stewardship, Accountability & Loyalty. You can visit our website at www.apelasolutions.com to learn more about Apela Solutions and our services.