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Story and photos by Ike Dodson, CDCR PIO
Office of Public and Employee Communications

The Bowers Museum, heralded for its richness of Native American artifacts, is a reverent tribute to California’s past.

It’s also a pretty good place for honoring the men and women responsible for the state’s bright future.

CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) promoted 52 people in the Southern Region during the last fiscal year, and those promotions were recognized with a special ceremony inside the Bowers Museum’s Norma Kershaw Auditorium June 28.

Flanked by family and friends, the promoted staff members were recognized by Southern Region Headquarters Regional Parole Administrator Karen Thacker and recently- appointed DAPO Director Jerry E. Powers at the Third Annual Supervisor Promotional Ceremony.

Thacker and Powers awarded each promotee a badge and certificate, posing for photos after each handshake. Administrators shared insight on supervising techniques and emboldened parole agents to be good leaders and role models.

Afterward, the honorees gathered on the steps of the historic balcony and grinned widely as relatives pointed a volley of smart phones and digital cameras in their direction.

After a dazzling ceremony recognizing the success of some of CDCR’s most accomplished parole staff, all seemed eager to capture the moment in time on a still frame, and a cultural center celebrating the world’s finest arts and history was the perfect backdrop.

“It’s a great event and beautiful venue,” newly promoted DAPO Chief Deputy Regional Administrator Enrique Gonzalez Jr. said. “This shows the professionalism of the agency and how much we actually appreciate and value our employees. They are the greatest resource within our agency and that is why we have an event like this in such a prestigious location.

“This is truly one of the honors and privileges that a manger has to promote an employee who has earned the opportunity and who accepts the challenge to serve our communities and make us better.”

Gonzalez helped find the venue. He said the event is great for welcoming parole agents into the fold as supervisors.

His hospitality was shared by Thacker, who spoke after welcoming remarks by Parole Administrator Eric Summers, presentation of the colors by the California Institution for Women Honor Guard, a harmonious recital of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Laura Padilla and an invocation by Chaplain Ray Miller.

Thacker made a point to address the families in attendance.

“I want to thank you for sharing your loved ones with us, and thank you for sacrificing your time,” Thacker said. “I recognize what your family goes through to allow loved ones to participate.”

“To honorees, I want to say congratulations, because this ceremony is for you,” she continued. “This a huge accomplishment and a huge undertaking and it began when you started your career.

“Thank you for agreeing to step up and lead the Southern Region.”

Director Powers challenged promoted staff to have an even greater impact on citizens in the community, including parolees.

“My charge to you as supervisors is to figure out what it takes to make your folks better, because you will make the organization better, your agents will be safe and they will go home at the end of the day,” Powers encouraged. “Congratulations to all of you on a job well done.

“This is just the beginning. I wish all of you the greatest success.”

Thirty recently promoted Parole Agent IIs were honored, including Alex Bustos.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this team and provide leadership to our unit,” Bustos said.

“I have never seen a ceremony such as this,” fellow Parole Agent II Albert Montano added. “This is such a beautiful, family-oriented event and it’s nice to see our administration recognize the time and dedication we have given to the department.”

Kenneth E. Thomas of the California Parole Apprehension Team was one of 13 promoted to Parole Agent III. He was all smiles after taking photos inside the museum courtyard.

“It’s an honor to have a position that enables me to pass on what I have learned over the years and continue to lead and teach my crew,” Thomas said. “These are special people who have an important role to play, and I am proud to lead such a top-notch crew.”

Jason Johnson and Jaqueline Waltman were both promoted to the position of Parole Administrator and Jon Stern joined Gonzalez on stage as a newly appointed Chief Deputy Regional Administrator.

Stern may have flashed the widest smile of any honoree when shaking hands with Thacker and Powers.

“This is very moving for me, and one of the events that I am most excited about participating in,” Stern said after the last certificate was awarded. “Seeing all the people I work with get promoted and witnessing the effect it has on their families is quite moving for me, and something I always highlight in my calendar.”

“We spend a lot of time focusing on our parolee community and helping them, so to take a day out to recognize those that do that day-in and day-out is extraordinarily important.”