2018 WCA March Newsletter Article

Rory Thelen, President

WCA, Leadership and Value

As I come to the end of my Presidency this fall, I reflect back two years ago when I talked to you about what leadership means to me personally and professionally.  My definition of leadership quite simply is how our actions and interactions we have every day, influence the people we meet and work with.  By influencing them in a positive manner, we enhance their abilities to make a difference.  I truly believe that every one of our members in the Wisconsin Correctional Association has a value and is in a position to lead every day.

About a month ago, I was introduced to the concept of Catalytic Leadership by a colleague and I would like to share his perspective of leadership and how it directly relates to my theory on what makes a good leader.  He referred me to the writings of Dr. Jeffrey Luke of the University of Oregon.  In the late 1980’s Dr. Luke undertook a research project to find out why some communities and organizations were more successful dealing with difficult issues and solving complex problems than others.  His answer came after he studied community challenges in which multiple groups came together. The ones in which no one group had clear ownership over the problem or the process were the ones that were the most successful.

Dr. Luke found that the primary factor for success was a certain type of leadership, which he called Catalytic Leadership.  Catalytic Leaders engage and motivate others to take on leadership roles and work toward a shared vision.  Dr. Luke decided that the skills of Catalytic Leadership are teachable.  He focused on the strategic application of the following leadership skills:

*Raising Awareness: Focusing Public Attention on the Issue

*Forming Work Groups: Bringing People Together to  Address the Problem

*Creating Strategies: Stimulating Multiple Strategies and Options for Action

*Sustaining Action: Implementation Strategies and Maintaining Momentum

*Thinking and Acting Strategically:  Framing and Reframing Issues

*Facilitating Productive Work Groups: Collaboration and Cooperation

*Leading from Personal Passion and Strength of Character:  Be Optimistic, Enthusiastic and Persistent

Dr. Luke asks us how can we provide effective leadership in our organizations to address the interconnected problems with reduced fiscal resources, a lack of consensus on options and the involvement of diverse, independent minded stakeholders.  Leadership is an activity engaged in by people of all walks of life to include but not limited to, elected and appointed officials, public and private sector people, paid and volunteers, urban and rural individuals.  Our problems are interconnected, they cross organizational and jurisdictional boundaries; they are inter-organizational.  No single agency, organization, jurisdiction or sector has enough authority, influence or resources to dictate visionary solutions. 

I believe that today’s leaders must be catalytic, thinking about problems and solutions in a systematic or interconnected way. One must elevate the issue to the public agenda, convene critical stakeholders, stimulate multiple initiatives to achieve goals and sustain action over the long term. This is just a brief overview of what Dr. Luke studied and applied. 

I only ask you to read his works and be your own judge. You can go online where you will find several sites that speak to his research.  As I have matured and grown throughout my career with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections over the past 32 years, I have learned that the more I involved and empowered the ideas from my staff in my decision making process, the more successful I became and the safer our institution became as well.  Finding the value in someone and using that value makes us all better individuals.




Toby Formiller, President Elect

We are about a month and a half away from the 37th Annual Wisconsin Correctional Association Training Conference. Our Conference Planning Committee has been hard at work planning this year’s Conference. Please check out our website at (wcatoday.com) to see all information about this years Conference. All information has gone out to Regions and Institutions for staff to put in to attend this year’s Conference. 

On Friday July 27th, we held a Conference Planning Committee meeting along with our first WCA Liaison meeting at OSCI. Rory Thelen, Theresa Anderson, and I have been hard at work on creating an updated list of Liaisons and new position descriptions for the Liaisons. The meeting was well attended and there was a lot of excitement in the room.

WCA President Rory Thelen and I will be attending the ACA’s 148th Congress of Correction Conference in Minneapolis, MN from Aug. 3rd thru the 7th. We will be bringing back much information to share with fellow WCA members and fellow co-workers within the Department of Corrections. We will also be sharing what we are doing here in Wisconsin with the WCA. We will be discussing how successful our one day workshops are (thank you Richard Skime), how our numbers are growing and how we are retaining members.

In ending, I would like to thank the new Department of Corrections Secretary Cathy Jess, Deputy Secretary Stephanie Hove and their Administrative staff for the continued support of the Wisconsin Correctional Association.





Todd Timm, Past President

What a Great Run

This is my final newsletter article as part of WCA. It has been an honor to serve on the Board of Directors the past 7+ years and be an active member since 1994. I don’t really have a lot to add to the numerous articles I have posted over the years, but I did want to acknowledge all the hard work that goes into keeping a great organization like WCA running. Countless folks on the Board of Directors, Conference Committee, Liaison’s, and other volunteers make this Association run efficiently. For all the people who have dedicated their time and effort over the years, I really do appreciate all of you.

We are just beginning the Board of Directors election cycle starting on Monday July 30th, so please visit our website or note the posting on MyDOC for specific information. It is great to see so much interest in our Board and it is healthy to have competition. So, get out and vote!

Finally, this was my last year running the summer charity golf outing. I have retired from my career in DOC and will be retiring from WCA activities as well. I will still be an active member, but it is time to pass on the torch to someone else who can continue to make this a successful and fun event each year. Thanks to everyone who came out for the event this year and raised funds for the Wisconsin American Legion Law Enforcement Academy.

Thanks again and hope to see everyone at the Fall conference in Stevens Point.


 Valorie Manninen-Nelson, Juvenile Representative



Theresa Anderson, Recording Secretary 



Richard Skime, State Representative


Resilience, what is it? According to the “Merriam-Webster Dictionary” Resilience is “The ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Those of us working in the Criminal Justice Field know all too well about misfortune or change. Criminal Justice is always changing; in fact change is probably the only consistent part of this business. We change the programing offered based on evidence based practices. We change policies, codes, rules and regulations based on new ideology. These change the way we do daily business.

Staff in the Criminal Justice field also deals with a lot of misfortune. In our profession we receive a lot of criticism from the public we are charged with protecting. We deal with defiant individuals, who don’t want to take responsibilities. There is a higher degree of disrespect, assaults, even death then what the majority of professions deal with.

So how do we bounce back? What do you do to re-center yourself after a long day of work? How much of work do we bring home with us? These are the questions we should be concerned about. I was searching online for keys to resiliency. I found the following “10 Ways to Build Resilience” from the American Psychological Association

*Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

*Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

*Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

*Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

*Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

*Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

*Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

*Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

*Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

*Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

To read the full article here is the link:


“Merriam-Webster Dictionary” - http://www.merriam-webster.com/
“American Psychological Association” - http://www.apa.org/index.aspx





Amanda Derks, Corresponding Secretary





Emily Bortz, Federal Representative

Remembering a Fallen Hero: Boyd Spikerman 

The recent attack in Minnesota on July 18, 2018, is a painful reminder of the risk we take every day working with violent individuals. On July 18, an inmate serving time in Minnesota DOC for homicide attacked correctional officer Gomm, who later died at a nearby hospital from the injuries.

The attack reminds me of the officer we lost at FCI Oxford in 1984, Boyd Spikerman. I walk past a display of Boyd’s service every morning when I come into work. The WCA gives the Boyd Spikerman award each year to a correctional officer for their professionalism and dedication to corrections. The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond their job duties. 

We know about the WCA award, but do we know the details of that fateful morning?

Boyd H. Spikerman, a 32 year-old Correctional Officer, died at FCI Oxford on January 29, 1984 after a six-month tour of duty. At approximately 5 a.m. on January 29, 1984, Officer Boyd H. Spikerman was on duty in the Juneau housing unit, when inmate Matthew Granger surprised him. As two other inmates acted as lookouts, inmate Granger bludgeoned Officer Spikerman with a fire extinguisher and mortally stabbed him. Both injuries were so severe that individually each was sufficient to be the proximate cause of death. A fellow officer found Officer Spikerman’s body at approximately 5:13 a.m.

An investigation found that the inmates had discussed killing a staff member to impress and be recognized by the Aryan Brotherhood. Inmate Granger and a second inmate were convicted of murder and received life sentences. Boyd H. Spikerman is listed in the National Law Enforcement Memorial on Panel 13, E-12.

Even though our jobs can become routine or we, deal with the same “good” inmates day in and day out, we must never underestimate the risks we face every day as law enforcement professionals. We must remain vigilant at all times to ensure the safety and security of staff, the public, and the inmate population. 



Dean Bryan, County Representative



Jim Brace, Education Representative






Nathan Melanson, Private Representative