Byline: By Charlotte Higgins
Subtitle: CCA’s facility reporters and public information officers are the local news link between CCA and the world
News Category: General News
Often, the CCA communications staff stays in touch with what’s going on at the facilities because of the hard work of facility reporters and public information officers (PIOs). These employees frequently serve as the liaison between InsideCCA magazine, the local media and you.
Facility reporters are volunteers, who are typically selected by their warden. They are responsible for collecting information about programs, events and people at facilities. They take photos as they gather the news and send a monthly report to the CCA Communications department. They work closely with department heads and other facility leaders to find stories that are waiting to be shared.
Leyda Rivera is the secretary at CCA Citrus County Detention Facility in Lecanto, Fla. but has also worn the hat of facility reporter since 2000. She said she sees herself as someone who works backstage to help her co-workers shine.
Rivera recognizes that not everyone is excited to have their picture taken at an event, but that doesn’t discourage her from covering the event. She knows her co-workers will be pleased with the end result when they see themselves on CCATV, Facebook, or even the local news.
“That, to me, is rewarding, not just at work, but at home, also,” said Rivera. “My passion is to see everyone with a smile.”
PIOs are also involved in telling the stories of CCA employees, especially as it relates to the local community and media. They are responsible for communicating regularly with the CCA Public Affairs department. As with facility reporters, PIOs are volunteers chosen by their wardens. To help prepare an individual to act as a PIO, CCA Facility Support Center in Nashville, Tenn. hosts an annual training conference which all new PIOs are encouraged to attend.
In 2011, Nathaniel Dunlap, Jr. began his work as a quality assurance manager at CCA Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. He later accepted the additional role of PIO in 2013. He said attending the training conference in Nashville gave him an appreciation for the PIO community.
Dunlap admitted that acting as a PIO is sometimes a challenge. He relies heavily on the support of his warden when promoting the image of CCA in the community.
“A PIO working effectively is not just someone who responds appropriately to negative information,” Dunlap said. “The greatest strength a PIO can have is the ability to be proactive and regularly share positive information.”
Some individuals choose to act as a PIO and a facility reporter. One enthusiastic example is Tiffany Lopez, an administrative supervisor at CCA Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Ariz. Despite the extra responsibilities, Lopez remains positive about sharing the stories of her co-workers.
“I truly believe in the value of recognizing staff every chance I get,” said Lopez.
She added that she has seen staff members experience a morale boost when they see their pictures and stories on CCATV, in InsideCCA, and even in local media. The joy she experiences from seeing the hard work of her co-workers recognized is the best part of acting as a PIO and a facility reporter, she said.
“Knowing that their faces and stories are featured nationwide for the entire company to see warms my heart and gives me a great deal of satisfaction,” she said.
More CCA News
All in the Same Boat
Learning to Follow a New Pattern
I Am CCA: Meet Wave Walton
Feature on Homepage: Yes
Blog Post Feature Level: Second Level