Ecumen Velocity Class of 2014 Begins Year-Long Action-Learning Program

The Ecumen Velocity Leadership Development Program Class of 2014 completed its first workshop on “Authenticity and Emotional Intelligence,” kicking off a year-long experience focused on building leadership skills and developing innovative approaches to aging services.

“The first workshop is all about self-discovery,” said Carolyn Perron, vice president of organizational development.  “To lead others effectively, you need to know yourself. Once people learn who they really are and what their leadership gifts are, they can start building skills and leveraging strengths.” 

The Velocity program encourages broader, more innovative thinking and development of each individual’s authentic personal leadership style.  The first workshop was devoted specifically to helping participants understand their individual styles using well-established assessment tools.  They took the Leadership Practices Inventory, which lets each participant see how they view themselves compared to how their colleagues view them. They also took an emotional intelligence assessment that provides insight into self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Based on class feedback, the first workshop achieved its goal.  Danielle Olson, executive director at Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park, Minn., summed it up this way: “The experience was emotional and personal. I really learned who I am and how specific moments in my life shaped my leadership style.  I left with an excitement for what is to come and have already found myself being more fully engaged in conversations that I am having with others.”

 “WOW! I’m feeling overwhelmed, excited and pumped up for the changes to come,” said Christy Johnson, recreation therapy director at Ecumen Parmly LifePointes. “I have gained valuable insight to my leadership style, delivery and perception.  I have taken away several key strategies to help me make improvements to my work and home relationships.” 

Over the next year, the group will have three more workshops. Early in 2014 the class will be given an action-learning project to practically apply the course work to a real issue facing Ecumen and the aging services profession. Last year’s action-learning project focused on developing ideas and strategies for how an Ecumen campus could potentially become an “ageless community” that is less dependent on government funding. 

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.  The 2014 class members are:

  • Amanda Beavens, Housing Manager, Ecumen Mapleton, Mapleton, Minn.
  • Christy Johnson, Recreation Therapy Director, Ecumen Parmly LifePointes, Chisago City, Minn.
  • Danielle Olson, Executive Director, Sunnyside Care Center, Lake Park, Minn.
  • Darcy Stueber, Director of Dining, Ecumen Pathstone Living, Mankato, Minn.
  • Irmadene Hanson, Quality Improvement Nurse, Ecumen Home Office, Shoreview, Minn.
  • Laura Templin, Housing Manager, Ecumen Lake Crystal, Lake Crystal, Minn.
  • Roberta Alzen, Clinical Director, Grand Village, Grand Rapids, Minn.

The workshops are facilitated by Perron, along with Robin Dunbar, senior vice president of human resources and strategic alignment.  Mentors for Velocity 2014 are Shelley Kendrick, vice president of operations, and Shelley Matthes, director of quality improvement. 

The Velocity program was developed by Ecumen and has been custom-designed to incorporate the leadership skill building and theories required to live The Ecumen Way and carry out the Ecumen brand promise of “Innovate, Empower, Honor.” Participants spend 10 to 15 hours a month on Velocity activities.  At the four workshops, the group gathers for two-day sessions that include in-depth discussions, readings and conversations. Additionally, they work on their action-learning project, which will be presented to Ecumen senior management in July 2014.  Since Velocity began in 2009, 63 employees have graduated.

“The Velocity experience is designed to prepare our leaders for a future that transforms the way we think about and deal with aging,” said Perron. “We work on the premise that great questions lead to great answers. So the group tackles a big project designed to challenge them and grow their skills, while also helping Ecumen deal with real issues facing the organization. All along the way, the group explores and learns together, developing new approaches for themselves and their work."


Ecumen Velocity Class of 2014 Photo