Friday, June 28, 2024

NCDAC recognizes outstanding employees

The NC Department of Adult Correction recognized outstanding employees on June 27th in a celebration at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University.
Jun 28, 2024

The NC Department of Adult Correction recognized outstanding employees on June 27th in a celebration at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University.

NCDAC color guard presents colors during National Anthem

Employees were recognized in the following categories: Above and Beyond, Employee Accomplishment, Excellence in Leadership, Heroism, Innovation, Outstanding Community Service, Path to Progress, Safety and Security, and Workplace Improvement. Employees were nominated from the divisions of Administration, Chief of Staff/General Counsel, Operations, and Rehabilitation and Correctional Services.


Tiffany Rash, Recruiting, Above and Beyond -- Military and Veteran Recruiter Tiffany Rash spent three weeks completing an extensive survey for the Department of Defense that required a high level of expertise and skill in data collection, analysis and reporting. The survey conducted by VETS Indexes had significant implications, leading to NCDAC receiving an official VEX award for our work in hiring military veterans.

Leann Supko, S.H.I.E.L.D., Heroism -- Leann joined S.H.I.E.L.D. last October as its first executive assistant. On the night of November 15, Leann attended a retirement party for a friend and former co-worker at a local restaurant in Sampson County. As Leann and her family were leaving the restaurant, she witnessed a man collapse suddenly in the parking lot. Leann shouted for her husband to stop their vehicle and acted swiftly, exiting the still-moving car. Leann and her husband initiated CPR, maintaining focus and determination throughout the ordeal. Her quick thinking and decisive actions played a pivotal role in sustaining the individual until professional medical assistance arrived.

Jay Patel, Human Resources, Innovation -- Jay has been instrumental in providing innovative solutions to business problems since his hire within Operations - Institutions Administrative Services.  Jay offered suggestions and presented new models that he created on his own. The products were like nothing our agency had ever experienced, including interactive user features, and automatic farming of data to meet specified parameters. Jay created the Interactive Vacancy Dashboard, WACO Smartsheet, Governor’s Awards for Excellence Nomination Processing Smartsheet, and LMAR data reports. He always has time to explain the new technology or platform so that we understand the purpose and usefulness of the tools we have available.

Dr. James “Chip” Coon, Safety Director, Safety, Occupational and environmental Health Office, Workplace Improvement – Dr. Coon started with the state of North Carolina over 20 years ago. He was instrumental during the formation of NCDAC in keeping the safety office together and helping DPS establish its safety office. He continues in his role as Continuity of Operations (COOP) Liaison between NCDAC and NC Emergency Management. This program ensures continued operations of essential government services during a time of disruption. He played a role during the pandemic working between Prisons, Juvenile Justice, employees, medical testing, and our continued operation. He supervises new NCDAC Workers Compensation staff, Safety, Occupational Environmental Health, regional Safety Consultants, regional Nurse Consultants, Industrial Hygiene Consultant Supervisors and the Safety Physician.


Corey Slife, Legislative Liaison, Above and Beyond – Corey has done an outstanding job responding to legislators and constituents about concerns. She is committed to helping identify solutions that will improve the situation and offers realistic solutions. Corey assisted Community Supervision in facilitating discussions with the Administrative Office of the Courts regarding Odyssey/eCourts training. New channels of communication were established thanks to Corey’s efforts.

Paula Page, Shannon Bond, Patrick Hand, Lachelle Bullard, Chestley Wright, Harold Reep, Meghan Borrasca, Dolly Murphy, Cynthia Thornton: Office of Professional Standards, Employee Accomplishment – This section leads the department-wide American Correctional Association accreditation process. They successfully led 12 initial accreditation audits, and two reaccreditation audits in 2023 while preparing the Institutions for an additional 26 audits during 2024. This team has saved the agency thousands of dollars with the training they provide. They built their own lesson plan that can be utilized in the training of new facility compliance specialists, in turn saving NCDAC $50,000 per training event. They developed an ACA Auditors welcome book template and distributed it to all facilities undergoing ACA accreditation, as well as developed all forms that are used for preparation before and during the audit process.

Carleshia Thornton, Webmaster, Innovation – Carleshia has crafted unique and “out of the box” solutions to create the new NCDAC Intranet, Inside DAC, which is scheduled to launch in August. Carleshia brought an enthusiastic innovative mindset to the project and developed unique solutions that addressed major challenges along the way to replace aging intranet site. At the same time, Carleshia has worked with NCDIT staff to lead the way in state government in implementing technology to ensure that websites are accessible to those with disabilities.

Special Operations and Intelligence Unit/Community Supervision, Safety and Security -- Between May 1-Aug. 31, 2023, investigators assigned to the Special Operations and Intelligence Unit and the Division of Community Supervision, local police departments and sheriff’s offices executed "Operation Summer Slam." The primary objective was to perform warrantless searches of offenders and their residences while apprehending individuals with active arrest warrants related to probation or post-release violations. 206 warrantless searches were attempted, with 137 searches successfully completed. The operation resulted in the capture of 13 absconders and arrest of 35 non-absconders, as well as 8 individuals for post-release violations. The confiscated items included 55 firearms, 2,484.32 grams of illegal drugs (marijuana, methamphetamine, oxycodone, heroin), 8 swords, 1 dagger, 1 crossbow, 29 fixed-blade knives, and Tannerite targets. A total of 167 arrest charges, consisting of both felonies and misdemeanors, were executed, along with two sex offender arrest charges. Additionally, $20,000 in currency and fraudulent checks were seized. Notably, 7 sex offenders were found to be in possession of sexually explicit material, and one minor was residing with a convicted sex offender.


Bob Weaver, Correction Enterprises, Above and Beyond – Bob Weaver’s “do whatever it takes,” “above and beyond” attitude and actions displayed during 2023/2024 while providing general project management for an all-time record $1 million order of office workstations (cubicles) for the NCDAC Controller’s Office and his service to Johnston Correctional Institution to meet it needs for new   

Torrey Leach, Duane Cogdell, Shalonza Atkins, Joseph White: CDL Implementation Team, Employee Accomplishment – This team started a program that allows offenders to earn a Class A Commercial Driver’s License while in prison. This program provides offenders the ability to gain employment as truck drivers after release, providing for their family, and contribute to their communities in a field that is in great need of certified drivers.   Torrey and his team worked with purchasing to create a contract and establish a vendor agreement to provide training for the program. They worked with Eastern Region staff to determine a training site. Greene Correctional Institution staff, led by Program Manager Joseph White, ensured all program requirements were met and the vendor had proper access to offenders for various tasks. Duane Cogdell of the Education section worked with Torrey to ensure contract issues were dealt with swiftly and effectively. Duane also coordinated with existing education staff to recruit candidates for the program. Shalonza Atkins recruited, screened, and communicated with the vendor regarding cohort status. The program began in early March and has now completed several cohorts, and graduated numerous drivers.

Sherri Cook, Community Supervision, Excellence in Leadership – District 21 JDM Sherri Cook has transformed the district into one of the most progressive probation/parole districts in the state. She has introduced programs that have helped reduce recidivism rates. Her work with the DATA program and the district attorney’s office has helped prevent relapses in alcohol and drug abuse users. She is also on the Forsyth County Reentry Council advisory board and has helped organize reentry simulations. JDM Cook helped in the creation of District 21’s incentive closet to help newly released probationers receive toiletries and clothing.

Scott Surles, Darrell Monroe, Correction Enterprises, Heroism -- While driving a Correction Enterprises delivery truck, Scott and Darrell risked their own lives to save the life of a motorist who had just wrecked ahead of them on a Raleigh road. While delivering furniture to a customer, they came upon a smoking car that had just smashed into a tree with the driver’s legs pinned under the steering wheel.  As the smoke from under the car intensified, they helped free the driver before flames were visible under the car.  After EMTs arrived and took control, the two men continued their deliveries as if nothing had happened.

Susan Costa, Community Supervision, Innovation -- Susan is the human resources manager for Community Supervision. She presented an idea of hosting an after-hours hiring event in all four Judicial Divisions. She discussed the idea with Community Supervision leadership and NCDAC Human Resources. The first three after-hours hiring events have resulted in 29 conditional offers of employment.  In addition, Susan is very proactive in renewing processed actions to ensure that staff and the department are not dealing with overpayments/underpayments.

Somoura Thomas, Community Supervision, Outstanding Community Service -- PPO Somoura Thomas performs community service every Saturday at a local thrift store (Helping the Orphans).  PPO Thomas helps to sort through donations and helping customers find what they need. She assists in providing low-income families be able to have clothing and household items.  She is active in the community and provides community support. PPO Thomas does this on her own time to uplift the community. She also volunteers to help mentor new officers pre- and post-basic training.

Jeffrey Woodruff, Community Supervision, Path to Progress – Along with his regular duties, Probation/Parole Officer Jeffrey Woodruff serves as a community health worker in helping high risk illegal substance abuse users. He has contributed to the growth of the recovery court program by helping create new guidelines and procedures. He serves as a liaison between court officials and offenders.

Sharard Waithe, Institutions, Safety and Security -- During 2nd shift at North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, Correctional Officer Sharard Waithe was conducting his duties with offenders on the yard. He heard the fire alarm and noticed smoke coming from the clothes house. He immediately notified the officer-in-charge and removed the offenders from the area. Emergency services were notified, and the fire department was on the scene within minutes of the discovery.


Dana Melton, Operations, Above and Beyond – Dana Melton is a medical records associate at Nash Correctional Institution. However, not only does she work alone in this role at a very busy medical facility like Nash CI, but she became to go-to trainer for other new medical records staff. She assists with vacancies at other facilities and helps set up on-site clinics at Nash and other facilities and assists the region with special projects. She created scheduling templates in OPUS for on-site clinics and is called on regularly as a medical records expert.

Alan Baggett, Institutions, Employee Accomplishment – Alan Baggett is the facility maintenance supervisor in Clinton, but he’s taken on the extra responsibilities of filling the vacant role of maintenance manager.  He’s overseen special projects such as building facility exercise units, replacing windows at Pasquotank CI and ACA statewide projects. He’s implemented comprehensive tool safety training for staff and offenders.

Armen Armenakyan, Central Engineering, Excellence in Leadership – Deputy Director of Central Engineering Armen Armenakyan oversaw the busy division during a period after the director’s departure. Armen provided direct leadership to the architectural design, electrical design, and project Management teams within Central Engineering until those leadership vacancies were filled. Armen continued in the Certified Public Manager Program achieving success completion during this interim period. He also led the project to install air conditioning throughout the state’s prison facilities.

Sherese Robertson, Institutions, Heroism – Tabor Correctional Institution Food Service Officer Sherese Robertson was on her way home when she noticed an infant child on the ground and a distraught father attempting CPR on the child, who had been rescued from a swimming pool. FSO Robertson used her training to take over with CPR and helped revive the child. She stayed on site until an ambulance arrived and the child was airlifted to Chapel Hill for hospitalization.

Letitia Owen, Institutions, Innovation -- Assistant Director of Nursing Letitia Owen leveraged technology to revolutionize data collection and streamline workflows. Recognizing the potential of Smartsheet as a solution for data collection, Letitia took the initiative to implement it within her division. Despite initial hurdles, she acquired the necessary skills through self-learning, mentors and training resources, such as YouTube and Smartsheet University. This proactive approach has transformed the division's operations, resulting in significant time savings and improved efficiency.

Jimmy Varner, Facility Management, Outstanding Community Service – Maintenance/Construction Supervisor Jimmy Varner demonstrates an unwavering commitment to volunteerism. For more than 35 years, Jimmy has been an integral part of Boy Scout Troop 571, a nontraditional troop of young men ages 15-56 with disabilities. He’s helped with Operation Red Sleigh, which helps needy families during the holidays. He’s supported Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat Golf Classic, Asheboro’s No Tie Affair and Field of Honor for veterans, and the Special Olympics in Randolph County.

Mary Grillo, Correctional Services, Path to Progress – Mary Grillo has served as the interim social work services director while maintaining her job duties as social work services supervisor for the Central and Eastern Regions. Last December, she took on the additional role of Medicaid expansion coordinator for NCDAC. Her efforts to enroll offenders in Medicaid before release has made a positive difference for their reentry. Her diligent work with DHHS to improve the process assists NCDAC with resource allocation for this initiative.

Nina Hooks-Thomas, Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Programs, Workplace Improvement – Nina Hooks-Thomas has worked for Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Programs for 18 years. Her responsibilities included traveling to prisons in the eastern part of the state administering substance abuse education programs, administering the SASSI at Craven Correctional Institution, and providing aftercare (release and reintegration) for offenders who completed treatment within several adult correctional facilities. She is also the liaison between the clinical team and front-line staff in distinguishing what is working and what’s not working in pilot programs.

Cross-Departmental Excellence Overall Awards 

These employees were recognized as NCDAC's most outstanding employee in each award category:           

  • Tiffany Rash, Above and Beyond
  • Alan Baggett, Employee Accomplishment             
  • Armen Armenakyan, Excellence in Leadership     
  • Sherese Robertson, Heroism      
  • Carleshia Thornton, Innovation  
  • Jimmy Varner, Outstanding Community Service 
  • Mary Grillo, Path to Progress      
  • "Operation Summer Slam" Team, Safety and Security      
  • Dr. James Coon, Workplace Improvement