NAAWS Warden of the Year: CCA's Ralph Kemp
After spending 40 years in corrections, contributing to society in multiple ways and demonstrating exceptional leadership skills through it all, Ralph Kemp, warden at CCA’s Wheeler Correctional Facility, has been named “2009-2010 Warden of the Year” by the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents (NAAWS). Kemp was one of 18 wardens nominated for the award nationally – and it's clear that he deserves the recognition.
“Ralph Kemp is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable and well-respected people in state government,” says Brian Owens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Kemp has spent a decade with CCA, preceded by three decades with the Georgia Department of Corrections. He now oversees a staff of more than 300 at Wheeler, which is currently undergoing a major expansion of 750 beds – a job he says he couldn’t do alone.
“This award belongs to a lot of people even though my name is on the plaque,” Kemp says. “I’m very proud of our facility.”
Aside from his daily duties as a warden, Kemp participates in numerous professional organizations, including NAAWS, the American Correctional Association (ACA), the Georgia Prison Warden’s Association, the Georgia Peace Officer’s Association, and more. Additionally, he has advanced legislation to protect the autopsy reports of murder victims from being accessed by convicted felons, and he supported a law that made unauthorized possession of a cell phone a felony in a correctional facility.
Kemp’s contributions to corrections are backed by solid character, strong work ethic and a passion to do his best daily.
“Kemp has proven that he is an adaptive, confident, decisive and determined leader committed to the highest standards,” says Rick Seiter, executive vice president and chief correctional officer. “He reflects the excellence that represents the heart of what we do each day.”
While Kemp’s special honor has attracted a great deal of attention, he remains humble and appreciates the continuing support of his loving family.
“My family has always been proud of everything I’ve done – my wife and two children,” says Kemp. “They’re making a big thing out of it. Local folks have already started calling the house and wanting interviews and stuff like that.”
Now age 67, Kemp says carrying out his day-to-day correctional duties still brings him pleasure and each new morning presents a fresh opportunity to enjoy the hand life has dealt him.
“When you reach the age I am now, you feel glad to be able to feel those aches and pains,” Kemp says. “I wake up in the morning and roll things over in mind. I just wonder about what I’m going to have to face that day – and most of those things are positive.”
By DeAndra Mack