Elwanda Ray, a corrections officer at Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, has been named the 2018 Corrections Officer of the Year for her compassion, integrity and professionalism. “I’d like to congratulate Corrections Officer Elwanda Ray, whose peers selected her for this award because she is a positive influence on those around her,” said Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. “Her passion for making a difference in the lives of others made an impact on her colleagues, who nominated her.” Officer Ray has worked for the MDOC for 17 years and worked with youthful offenders for about 10 years. She volunteers at two nursing homes, delivers food to those in need and participates in a youth deterrent program with Flint Community Schools, where she talks to students about the importance of making good choices. “Hats off to all of the finalists,” said MCO Executive Board Member Bill Henderson. Henderson is MCO’s representative on the Officer of the Year selection committee and a corrections officer at Saginaw Correctional Facility. “Of 6,500 corrections officers statewide, they’re the best of the best.” Officer Ray said she was humbled to be named Corrections Officer of the Year and was proud of the other finalists for the award. “I’m humble and grateful because I truly, truly do love my job and what I do,” Officer Ray said. “I love that I can make a difference in someone’s life.” Officer Ray is a firm believer in the power of a positive attitude. She is a mentor in her community, to coworkers and to inmates in the Burns B unit at Thumb Correctional Facility. She hopes the lessons offenders learn in prison will help them lead better lives after release. “Your attitude can change everything. You don’t have to be negative,” Officer Ray said. “I encourage (prisoners), and hopefully that makes a difference.” The Michigan Correctional Officers’ Training Council, a group comprised of representatives from the MDOC, Michigan Corrections Organization, law enforcement and higher education, chose Officer Ray for the honor from a pool of five finalists. Finalists included: Baraga Correctional Facility Officer Peter Goodreau, Absconder Recovery Unit Investigator Tom Johnson, G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility Officer Jerald Nugent and St. Louis Correctional Facility Officer David Rowley. “I am proud of all of our Corrections Officer of the Year finalists, and corrections officers around the state who work hard every day to keep Michigan’s citizens safe,” Washington said.