(Top left row: Amanda Christy, Brenda Lewis, Christine Anderson, Audra Moeller, Gavin Bishop. Middle right row: Sarah Black, Amy Barrows, Tami Toy, Nathan Chase. Bottom row: Debi Watson, Joanna Teeter, Destiny Safford. Absent: Holly Katta)
MAYVILLE, NY – A cohort of thirteen professionals recently completed a leadership development course, signifying a noteworthy achievement in fostering impactful leadership within the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Chautauqua County.
The program was a collaborative effort between DSS Staff Development, Jamestown Community College’s Workforce Development and KnowledgeForce Consulting.
Structured to promote the philosophy of "leading from any chair," the training focused on enhancing leadership skills and knowledge applicable to everyday challenges.
"Training programs like this course play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our organization," explained Jon Anderson, Chautauqua County’s Deputy Commissioner of Social Services. "They are not just sessions; they are investments in the growth and success of our team. By honing leadership skills and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, these initiatives contribute to a resilient and forward-thinking workforce, ensuring we navigate challenges with confidence and innovation."
Thirteen dedicated professionals graduated from the program, representing diverse roles within the Department of Social Services:
1. Nathan Chase, Senior Account Clerk/Fiscal
2. Joanna Teeter, Senior Account Clerk/Fiscal
3. Tami Toy, Senior Account Clerk/Fiscal
4. Gavin Bishop, Senior Social Welfare Examiner/Medical Assistance
5. Holly Katta, Support Officer/Child Support Enforcement Unit, Legal
6. Brenda Lewis, Social Services Investigator/Child Support Enforcement Unit, Legal
7. Amy Barrows, Social Welfare Examiner/Program Integrity Unit, Legal
8. Christine Anderson, Senior Caseworker/Preventive Services, Children and Family Services
9. Sarah Black, CPS B Supervisor/Foster Care Preventive Services, Children and Family Services
10. Amanda Christy, CPS Caseworker/Child Protective Services, Children and Family Services
11. Audra Moeller, Senior Caseworker/Preventive Services, Children and Family Services
12. Destiny Safford, Caseworker/Preventive Services, Children and Family Services
13. Debi Watson, Senior Caseworker/Adult Protective Services
"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to each participant for their unwavering commitment and dedication throughout the leadership development program," said Carmelo Hernandez, Director of Mental Hygiene and Social Services. "Your enthusiasm and active engagement have been the driving force behind this success, marking a significant contribution to the culture of effective leadership within our Department. Thank you for your inspiring journey and valuable contributions to this transformative initiative."
The eight-session program covered essential aspects of leadership development, with each session focusing on specific objectives:
- Leadership Development Program Introduction: Exploring the guiding principles of leadership and identifying individual leadership values.
- Your North Star – A Guide to Uncovering Your Leadership Style: Recognizing how your experiences have shaped your perception of leadership and your leadership style.
- The Influence of Professionalism: Discussing professionalism and understanding one's role in creating a positive work environment.
- The Thinking Preferences and Communication Flex: Introducing the Whole Brain Thinking® Model to enhance communication and understanding thinking preferences.
- Exploring Workplace Ethics: Exploring workplace ethics and decision-making based on values, principles, and morals.
- Solutions from the Heart of Leadership: Exploring the how leaders can get from “surface level” to the “heart of” a challenge to resolve workplace issues using emotional intelligence, essential conversations, and solutions-focused techniques.
- Understanding and Maximizing My Strengths: Leveraging personal strengths and adopting strengths-based leadership for team culture.
- Leadership Development Program Completion Ceremony: A celebration of learning with presentations and certificates of completion.
The completion ceremony witnessed positive feedback from facilitators, supervisors, and managers, emphasizing the program's impact on team building and inter-divisional connections.
"On behalf of our entire community, I extend heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated professionals who completed the DSS Leadership Development Program," said Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel Jr. "Your commitment to enhancing leadership skills is not only a personal triumph but a collective investment in the well-being of our county. Your efforts transcend individual success, contributing to the fabric of effective governance and service. Thank you for your invaluable contributions, making our community stronger and more resilient for all residents."
The DSS Leadership Development Program, an annual opportunity, is funded by the NYS Bureaus of Training and Development of the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. KnowledgeForce Consulting LLC, a NYS and County of Erie WBE Certified talent development firm, played a crucial role in program design and facilitation, contributing to the success of this transformative initiative.