Michael Bates, a Captain at the Ellis Unit, and Natalie Isaac, Program Supervisor V of the Counsel Substitute Program, will begin the Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management program this fall.“I am ecstatic and truly blessed,” said Isaac. “I am still on Cloud Nine. This is a huge accomplishment for me.” Both scholarship recipients plan to continue their careers with TDCJ and hope to parlay their degrees into top positions in the state agency.
“I want to retire as the Director of the agency,” said Capt. Bates. “If you set your goals low and miss, you miss low. But if you set your goals high, you can get there. I am excited to get started.”
The master’s degree in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management is offered as either an online or intensive weekend program. The 36-hour program is intended for criminal justice professionals currently working in mid-management and senior level positions or those seeking career advancement in the field of criminal justice. The degree caters to professionals whose jobs and family commitments prevent them from returning to campus as full-time students attending classes during the work week. The program allows working professionals to continue the pursuit of their career in criminal justice while completing their degree in two years.
Doug Dretke, Executive Director of the CMIT, is passionate about the role of higher education in providing correctional leadership with the knowledge and tools to maximize their leadership capacity.
“It is an honor to support emerging leadership within the TDCJ through this collaborative scholarship,” Dretke said. “Michael Bates and Natalie Isaac represent the many dedicated, committed, and passionate employees that serve the State of Texas through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice seeking to enhance their leadership capabilities as they work to fulfill the public safety mission of the agency.”
Capt. Bates currently oversees correctional officers and 2,500 inmates at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, where he served most of his seven year career with TDCJ. He began working with the agency while a business administration student at Sam Houston State University and served in Ellis’ administrative segregation unit and as a Lieutenant and Sergeant. He also was assigned for two years as a Lieutenant in the Clemens Unit in Brazoria County, which houses 1,300 offenders.
Capt. Bates hopes to combine his business degree with a MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management and use statistics to run a better agency.
“We have to look at what we do, find grants and run budgets,” Capt. Bates said. “I am very much looking forward to learning new techniques for management to bring it to the forefront of the job and grow and manage as a leader.”
Isaac is Supervisor of the Counsel Substitute Program, which oversees all units and facilities in the State of Texas. This program secures and protects the due process rights of offenders charged with disciplinary infractions by providing training to staff to assist offenders during the disciplinary process. She also worked in the Equal Employment Office helping to solve employee complaints and issues. She is a certified mediator.
“I enjoy working with employees to get their issues solved,” Isaac said. “I enjoy helping people to get through tough times.”
Isaac began her career at TDCJ in 1997 as a correctional officer, serving in the Estelle and Byrd units for six years. She also worked as counsel substitute for eight years, advocating for the offender’s rights during disciplinary hearings.
Isaac would like to become a respected manager or director of TDCJ, and wants to learn more about managing people and leadership.