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Leadership is Essential

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” ― Albert Schweitzer

It’s hard to believe that I have been employed by Tri-Valley for ten years now. They say that your home is where your heart is and I can say with utter conviction that my heart is in southeast Kansas. It only feels like yesterday, but in those ten years we have completed a myriad of projects and created new programs to ensure that quality supports and services continue to be provided in our area for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I say “we”, because I could not have achieved anything without the support of the employees of this wonderful organization. During the last couple of months my columns have focused on the importance of our direct support professionals and targeted case management. This month I have turned to our leadership team, whose responsibilities are extensive and who don’t always get the credit they deserve. Below is a short synopsis of the members of our leadership team.

It all starts with my sidekick Bill Fiscus from Chanute, who has been an employee of Tri-Valley for over thirty years, many of those years serving as the Associate Director. I lean on him to oversee a majority of the departments including programming, finance, nursing and transportation. When I leave on vacation, I don’t worry at all because of the confidence I have in him. Bill’s knowledge and skill set is invaluable to the agency and without him, we would not be able to accomplish half of the things we have.

Another member of the leadership team is Kathy Brennon from Erie, who is the Director of the Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDDO). Kathy has been at Tri-Valley for over seventeen years and during that time has also served as Director of Case Management. Kathy is one of those people you can go to with questions and you will get an accurate answer. She knows policies and regulations like the back of her hand. In addition, she is always advocating on behalf of the people served in her CDDO area.

Lea Chickadonz from Buffalo, is our Human Resources Director. She is another long term employee, with over twenty-one years of service. Lea is the glue that holds the organization together. She is very precise, knowledgeable, ethical and organized, all attributes that are needed for her position.

Debi Cramer is the Director of Case Management. Debi has been at Tri-Valley eighteen years; with eight of those years supervising case management and quality assurance. Debi is a great motivator and team builder, which is needed in our current managed care environment. Her positive attitude helps keep us rolling in the right direction.

Alene Jolly of Ft. Scott is the longest serving Tri-Valley employee ever, at over thirty six years. She was one of the original employees in Ft. Scott. Alene is one of those people who is very quiet, doesn’t offer her opinion very often, but when she does, it is usually an incredible idea. She has seen and accomplished a lot in thirty-six years, but when you think of a leader, Alene is usually one of the first to come to mind.

Michelle Reddick of Independence is the newest member of the leadership team having been with the organization almost four years. Michelle is our Finance Director and is responsible for all of the financial aspects of the organization. She is very organized, pays great attention to detail and has had to become innovative in dealing with the managed care companies billing systems.

Brenda Harrison has been with Tri-Valley twenty-seven years with ten of those as Director of Residential Services. Brenda has learned to think outside the box and become very creative in her philosophy. She is very compassionate about the people we serve and is willing to do anything to help them achieve the preferred lifestyle they seek.

Mike Jones of Chanute brought a wealth of knowledge with him when he started at Tri-Valley almost five years ago. Having working previously with Class Ltd. in Columbus, Mike is very familiar with people with disabilities and has brought that energy and lead by example mentality with him. He is always busy and will jump in where ever he is needed. He is an outstanding team player.

Last but not least is Tricia Campbell of Yates Center, who has been with the agency over twenty-one years. Although Tricia is not officially a member of the Leadership Team, she is an honorary member. Tricia is our Special Projects Coordinator and is the cog in the machine that keeps the leadership team running smoothly. She not only serves as secretary to the team, but she is also responsible for fundraising, our web site, policies, helping with the board, HIPPA, and the list goes on and on. I call her the Radar O’Reilly of TVDS because she is always a step ahead of me.

The leadership team at Tri-Valley is exceptional. In the ten years I have been here, I have seen growth in their character and expansion in their skill sets. I have seen improvements in team work, communication, quality, attention to detail, efficiencies, and many others. It is important to have the right people in the right places and I can say with confidence, that we have the right people. I could not be luckier!

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