With proud friends, family, and colleagues looking on, 40 members of the Department of Corrections Leadership Development Program (CLDP) graduated on September 12 at the DOC Training Academy.
Secretary John Wetzel was on hand to congratulate the graduates, pointing out that the department is excited to start seeing the results of a leadership development program that's been in the works for several years. "We need strong leadership here more than anything," Wetzel said.
Wetzel noted that the addition of Dr. Jennifer Wallitsch to the Training Academy staff has made that possible.
"We were pleased to bring Jennifer back from the Office of Administration for this program," he said.
Wallitsch, who started her career in the Department of Corrections, underlined the invaluable work the DOC-PBPP consolidation steering committee had done over the past few years to guide the leadership needs of the merged department.
The 2019 Corrections Leadership Development Program included eight learning sessions, held at the Training Academy and virtually, over the course of six months. Much of the early work involved self-assessment and "deep dives" into participants' leadership strengths, developmental opportunities, and examining how they affect those around them. A variety of presenters instructed sessions on critical leadership skills, such as emotional intelligence, coaching, esprit de corps, action planning and leading though change. The program ended with participants giving capstone presentations on their learning gains.
Wallitsch, the program director, described CLDP's foundation as based in transformational leadership.
"The goal of CLDP is to prepare mid-to-upper level management for the next level of responsibility in corrections," Wallitsch said. "Transformational leaders give people individual attention, they inspire people, they intellectually challenge themselves and others, and they exert a positive influence by modeling organizational values.
"It doesn't matter if you have a supervisory position or not, anyone can be a transformational leader."
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Wallitsch thanked the positive attitude the class brought to the program, and singled out their managers and colleagues as being particularly supportive of the process.
During the ceremony, four participants shared brief remarks about their experiences throughout the program: Tammy Koritich, DOC human resources; Larry Powell, PBPP; Michael Cole, SCI Cambridge Springs; and Tiffany Clark, PBPP. Training Academy Director Michael Dooley also spoke, congratulating the class and pointing out what a program like this means for the future.
"This is a great example of learning today for a better tomorrow," Dooley said. "You have set the standard. Future leaders in the Department of Corrections will now be challenged to meet that standard."
The class presented gifts to three of the Training Academy's food service staff: Sue Bryan, Shane Hiner and Steven Augustine. They were recognized for going "above and beyond" in helping feed the participants while at the Training Academy.
The next cohort of the Corrections Leadership Development Program will begin in spring of 2020. For more information on CLDP, contact Dr. Jennifer Wallitsch at firstname.lastname@example.org.