KRA remains committed to hiring the best people and investing heavily in professional development to deliver the highest caliber Program Management Team. As part of this commitment, in August 2010, KRA launched a formal leadership development program, the Leadership Edge. As KRA continues its planned expansion into new regions, the over-arching goals of the program are to (1) leverage best practices and lessons learned through cross-functional interactions, (2) improve company systems and processes that increase program effectiveness, and (3) fine-tune the decision-making and problem-solving skills necessary for company leaders to respond effectively to changing and challenging situations. Planned by staff for staff, the Leadership Edge is an annual, year-long program encompassing 24 Seminars covering Business Practices, Program Operations, Human Resources, Quality Assurance, Communications Management, and Finance and Accounting.
On January 23, 2013, KRA convened its second 2013 Leadership Edge Seminar, where more than 30 corporate- and program-level executives, directors, and managers were engaged by highly informative and interactive presentations, creative, hands-on activities and exercises, and a thought-provoking speech by Wendell M. France*, Executive Director for the Central Region of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ Operations Division. France is responsible for the oversight of 7,000 employees who operate five Corrections and Detention Institutions and 11 Community Supervision Offices within the Central Region, which encompasses Baltimore City, where KRA operates the City’s Work Participation, Placement, and Support Services Program; Baltimore County; and Carroll County.
Prior to France’s address, Vanessa Atterbeary, KRA Corporate Counsel, presented an Overview of Organizational Policies and Procedures, and stressed that legal consequences could ensue if corporate policies and procedures are not adhered to strictly. Marcie Dingle, KRA Corporate Communications Manager, followed with a session on Telling the KRA Story, and why it is critical for corporate communications…internal and external…to be accurate, consistent, timely, and well-structured.
France addressed the group with an insightful presentation on leadership attributes; the most essential of which he said is “character”. When queried as to his beliefs on the age-old debate on “are leaders born or made”, France was unwaveringly on the “born” side, citing character and integrity are not qualities one can develop…you either have them or you don’t. He spoke on how technical knowledge of a job may…or may not…make one an effective manager, but not aneffective leader. For the latter, one must possess and demonstrate an effective balance of technical and interpersonal skills. At the conclusion of France’s address, Knowlton R. Atterbeary, KRA President & CEO, thanked him for sharing his knowledge and insights with the KRA leaders’ group, and expressed the hope that KRA can work more closely with his office on behalf of the ex-offenders who participant in the company’s workforce development programs.
Following France’s address, Patricia Pinckney, KRA Human Resources Director, presented a session on Recruiting and Hiring, and like Ms. Atterbeary stressed the legal ramifications that could result from unintentional recruiting and interviewing infractions, including not tracking all applicants’ properly throughout the screening and hiring processes. The Seminar wrapped up with update-presentations by staff who are collaborating across programs in planning special projects that, when implemented, will add value to individual program operations, and to KRA as a whole. The presenters were very enthusiastic and excited to share their ideas and proposals for new project initiatives critical to KRA continued expansion and growth.
Mr. Atterbeary concluded, “After the first 2013 Leadership Edge, I didn’t think I could be more impressed or pleased with the results…but I am. Incredibly, you all have managed to make this Seminar even better than the last one. Needless to say, I look forward with great anticipation to the next one. Great job, everyone!”
*France’s distinguished public service positions include Commissioner for the Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services; Assistant Commissioner for the Maryland Division of Correction – East Region; member of the Baltimore Police Department for 27 years, including the rank of Division Commander; Executive Director of the Citizen Complaint Authority, Cincinnati, OH; and Consultant to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. France earned a BS, and a Master degree in Management, from the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Coppin State University in Baltimore. Known as an effective, forward-thinking, and sometimes outspoken leader, France is quoted as saying at the 1997 NAACP Convention, ‘If we decided tomorrow to take the police out of our communities and to replace the police with people who understand the community, we’d be much better off’.”