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Ellsworth Correctional Facility receives Leadership Transformation Grant

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The Kansas Leadership Center selected 87 organizations across Kansas as 2023 Leadership Transformation Grant partners. These partners receive grants that will be used to create a culture that embraces change, tackles problems and seizes opportunities. Among those named as partners was Ellsworth Correctional Facility.
“This grant will provide opportunities for our staff to learn, grow and acquire new experiences and skills through the KLC’s leadership principles,” Ellsworth Correctional Facility Staff Development Manager Tim Taylor said.
The grants provide tools, training and resources to assist organizations in all manner of challenges. The core team for the grant will form a strategic plan for ECF. They will take part in the KLC Path, a training spanning two to four days, that focuses on leadership as well as follow-up development sessions. The training sets benchmarks to ensure progress is being made towards their overall goals.
“We will spread the grant positions throughout our organization, from entry-level positions to high-level management, so that we are not only supporting current leadership, but building future leadership for the coming years of our facility,” Taylor said
Entities from 33 cities were awarded the grants.
 “The Leadership Transformation Grants are our primary vehicle for sharing the gift of KLC’s core grant from the Kansas Health Foundation,” KLC interim president and CEO Julia Fabris McBride said. “KLC and KHF partner this way to build the leadership and civic engagement capacity of organizations across the state. We’re proud to see this program grow every year since we started offering these grants nine years ago.”
According to the KLC they are a nonprofit educational organization founded in 2007. Their goal is to foster leadership for stronger, healthier, more prosperous Kansas communities. They partner with other organizations, businesses and industries to tackle civic issues. Their funding comes from the KHF. In addition, the KLC Press publishes leadership books and The Journal.  
When an organization receives a Leadership Transformation Grant, they then create a committee of three to six people to participate in the KLC’s dynamic program experiences and utilize KLC resources and consultation over the span of one year.  
“The Leadership Transformation Grants provide access to programs on the KLC Path, a three-step sequence which teaches that leadership is an activity, not a position, that anyone within an organization can exercise leadership effectively,” KLC Program Manager Katy Weidner said. “These programs offer a framework by which organizations can share a common language and skills to approach their challenges and empower employees to mobilize others to create progress in their organization and communities.”
Staff Development Director for the Kansas Department of Corrections Jessica Homolka began her career in corrections at ECF five years ago. Her position expanded in 2019 to a statewide role that focused on leadership and supervisory development, which goes hand-in-hand with the mission of the KLC.
“There are so many individuals across our agency and at Ellsworth Correctional Facility working together,” Homolka said. “From the warden to frontline staff, it takes us all to tackle tough adaptive challenges and create an environment of change and well-being. We’re taking the collaborative approach of ensuring to pull voices from many different groups and roles.”  
Taylor has similar goals and often works with Homolka collaborating to attain a shared vision. Taylor began his career in corrections and law enforcement in the U.S. Navy, where he held various positions including that of corrections officer at the Guantanamo Bay Military Prison in Cuba. He joined the civilian ranks of corrections in 2010 as a corrections officer, being promoted through the years in multiple roles.
“Tim is leading the charge in regards to the ECF Transformation Grant; I work to manage our statewide grant for the Kansas Department of Corrections,” Homolka said. “We both collaborate with a statewide team to ensure we’re all working towards and embodying our Pathways for Success.”
ECF’s work with KLC began in 2019 with the Leadership Ellsworth County program. The program was facilitated by Ellsworth County Economic Development which partners with KLC. At the time, ECED Executive Director Stacie Schmidt connected Homolka with KLC’s Director of Community Partnerships Racquel Thiesen to discuss the grant. At the same time, KDOC was hosting listening sessions and creating the basics of their new agency vision for the future. The collaboration matched each entity’s goals and missions.  
“ECF staff have benefited from these grant positions and leadership training through this time,” Taylor said. “We wanted to expand our facility leadership and invest in our staff more directly, which is why we applied for grant spots independently, and we couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity. Ellsworth Correctional Facility is one of the 87 organizations from 33 cities across Kansas to be selected to participate.”
ECF intends to apply for the grant again in 2024. The facility’s focus on personal and professional development continues and the KLC aligns with their goals. Along with the grant, they are continuing their search for more ways to ensure they employ well-rounded staff at all levels of the organization. KLC focuses on the belief that everyone has the capacity to lead, and provides the tools and guidance to ensure that regardless of position, staff have the ability to promote positive change.  
“We are all needed to run a successful organization and to maintain a healthy culture within our environment, while performing the duties that the citizens of this state trust us to do,” Taylor said. “The mindset of leadership is being built through this training and being spread and developed within our organization through the buy-in and dedication from our staff. As each new staff member gets the opportunity to be exposed to this training through the grant positions, we create one more opportunity for leadership growth. Our organization is creating an environment for change with our residents and our staff, and this is just one more step in that successful direction.”