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Commissioner Mae Carpenter of the Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS), a champion for seniors for more than three decades, has been named recipient of the American Society on Aging’s 2008 ASA Award.

The organization presents the annual award to honor an individual for outstanding and ongoing contributions to aging-related services, research, administration or advocacy on the national level. She will be recognized at the 2008 ASA “Aging in America” conference in Washington, D.C. from March 26 – 30.

Carpenter is being honored because she “continues to demonstrate her excellent leadership by not only providing mandated services to residents 60 years and older, but also innovative programs that greatly benefit both seniors and their families,” ASA said.

“For 30 years, Commissioner Carpenter has spoken ‘the language of aging advocacy’,” the society said. “She speaks it in the role of a national leader with the ability to build coalitions for systemic and systematic change in aging policies and issues.”

The ASA Award is still another reason for Westchester County to be proud of Carpenter and her many achievements. The award from ASA, one of the most respected professional organizations in its field, confirms what we in Westchester have known for many years. Mae is a superb leader. The passion and professionalism she brings to her work are consistently outstanding. She is also a visionary, whose innovative and creative ideas have given Westchester the leading edge when it comes to developing programs that continue to enhance the lives of seniors. Carpenter’s development of DSPS’ signature Livable Communities initiative has won her national acclaim.

The multiyear initiative helps ensure that residents of all ages, particularly older adults and baby boomers, can remain in their homes and communities with independence and dignity as they age.  DSPS is bringing the initiative’s benefits to Westchester’s 43 municipalities through the recently formed Livable Community Connection, which has nine regional sites throughout the county. 

Carpenter said she was honored to receive the award, but said others should be recognized as well.

“It is particularly a tribute to the very fine staff at DSPS and Westchester’s dedicated and committed Aging Network for the innovative and quality services they provide to seniors in Westchester County,” she said.

Michael Burgess, director of the New York State Office for the Aging, praised Carpenter for her leadership, enthusiasm and commitment to older Americans for many years.

“She deserves this national award and recognition because of the innovative services and advocacy she has provided that have always been forward thinking,” Burgess said.

Praise also came from attorney Steven Schurkman, chairman of the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services.

“Mae is brilliant, creative, and compassionate, and has had an enormous positive impact on the lives of seniors in this county,” Schurkman said. “Her ideas and vision in the field of aging have been recognized and replicated throughout the country and the world.

Carpenter was appointed DSPS commissioner in 2001. Prior to that she had been director of the county’s Office for the Aging, DSPS’ forerunner, since 1979.

As commissioner, she manages a budget of close to $15 million from different funding sources and oversees a staff of some 140 employees.  She is responsible for the overall administration of DSPS, which has been the federal and state designated Area Agency on Aging for more than 30 years.

Before moving to Westchester, Carpenter supervised the social services activities of a community action program and the largest residential urban renewal project in the Southwest.  She also worked for a U.S. Congressman handling legislative and constituent matters over three years.

Carpenter has received many honors and awards in her long career.  Among the most current was one for  Westchester’s Pre-White House Conference on Aging. The national White House Conference on Aging takes place every 10 years, and the most recent was in 2005.

Resolutions that Carpenter helped to develop contributed to setting the national agenda for seniors through 2015. She was a representative to the national White House Conference on Aging in 1981, 1995 and 2005.

Carpenter’s cable series, “Living the Later Years,” ran for 13 years, and received the National Media Owl Award from the original Ann Landers.  She also received the Racial Justice Award of the YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester, the Urban League of Westchester’s Humanitarian Award and the Share the Light Award from Lighthouse International.

She is a member of the board of directors of Bethel Homes in Ossining and Croton and an advisory council member of the New York State Assembly Committee on Aging. She also serves on the advisory council of Westchester Community College’s human services department.

A photo of Mae Carpenter is available upon request.