Ecumen’s Velocity Leadership Program Graduates Class of 2015

The Ecumen Velocity class of 2015 has just graduated from the year-long program focused on building leadership skills and developing innovative approaches to aging services.

The Ecumen Velocity class of 2015 has just graduated from the year-long program focused on building leadership skills and developing innovative approaches to aging services.

The 10 members of the graduating class wrapped up with a July 15 closing ceremony at Hamline University, where they presented their action-learning project to the company’s senior leaders and Velocity alumni.

The Velocity program, now in its sixth year, focuses on building leadership skills with emphasis on encouraging broader thinking, exploring innovative approaches, and developing each individual’s authentic personal leadership style. To practically apply the course work, the class has an action-learning project that addresses real issues facing Ecumen and the aging services industry. This year the graduating class’s action-learning project focused helping two Ecumen communities improve employee recruitment and retention programs.   

“We operate on the belief that there is no learning without action and no action without learning,” said Carolyn Perron, Ecumen Vice President of Organizational Development, who leads Velocity. “Velocity is tied very closely to who we are as a company. This is a home-grown program to help our leaders put our company’s aspirations into action.”

The program emphasizes collaborative problem-solving that incorporates different approaches and perspectives. Participants come from all parts of the company, and graduates cite exposure to the diverse thinking of their colleagues as a key benefit of the experience.

“Velocity is an intensive program,” said graduate Jim Lindner, Ecumen Director of Purchasing and Facilities. “But the value of team work and relying on one another’s strengths as we work through our assignments makes it particularly rewarding.”

Nathan Johnson, Executive Director of Ecumen North Branch, concurred: “I think the most important learning was learning from others in our class.  We all had leadership areas that we were working on so we could take steps to improve.  By watching others and hearing what they are working on can make you stronger.”

Graduates describe the program as a journey of self-discovery — as much about personal growth as professional growth. 

“There were so many things learned, but the greatest focus is inward,” said Anne Diekmann, RN, an Ecumen Quality Improvement Nurse. “You learn about yourself, your style and how to make yourself the best you.”

Katie Bauer, Housing Director at Ecumen Seasons at Apple Valley, added: “Overall, the experience really helped me reflect on what type of leader I am and areas where I can improve and continue to grow.”

Each year in September, the incoming Velocity class members do self-assessments and get feedback from coworkers to inform the emotional intelligence and authenticity segment of the program, which marks the start of the process.  Participants spend 10 to 15 hours a month on Velocity program activities.  Four times during the year, the group gathers for a two-day session that includes in-depth discussions, readings and conversations. In January they begin working on their action-learning project, designed to address major issues and challenges Ecumen and the aging services industry is facing. 

The program is built around Ecumen’s brand promise of “Innovate, Empower, Honor.” For inspiration, Velocity participants go on site visits outside the organization to see these values in action. The 2015 class went for innovation to 3M; for empowerment to Interact Theater, which challenges perceptions of disabilities; and for honor to BeTheMatch, a program to save lives through bone marrow donations.

Perron and Robin Balck, Ecumen Senior Vice President of Administration and Chief Strategy Officer, co-facilitate Velocity, and mentors from Ecumen senior leadership work closely with participants.  In 2015, the mentors were Carol Kvidt, Ecumen Regional Director, and Jennifer Pfeffer, Executive Director of Ecumen Pathstone Living in Mankato.

Following is a listing of the Velocity 2015 graduating class:

Katie Bauer, Housing Director, Ecumen Seasons at Apple Valley

Diane Hamilton, Human Resources Director, Ecumen Home Office

Anne Diekmann, Quality Improvement Nurse, Ecumen Home Office

Nancy Garvin, Housing Director,  Ecumen Meadows-Worthington

Nathan Johnson, Executive Director, Ecumen North Branch

Kerri Keller, Senior Director of HR, Ecumen Home Office

Stacie Leppert, Business Office Mgr./HR Rep, Ecumen Centennial House

Jim Lindner, Director of Purchasing & Facilities, Ecumen Home Office

Heather Moyer, Human Resources Rep, Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood

Joe Signore, Regional Housing Manager, Ecumen Home Office


Selection of the 2016 class is now underway.