Mae CarpenterMae Carpenter, a champion of seniors for more than 30 years, was appointed Commissioner of Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) in 2001. Prior to that, she had served as director of the county Office for the Aging, the forerunner of DSPS, since 1979. 

She is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable and innovative advocates for seniors in the United States because of her many innovative programs and ability to build and sustain coalitions of volunteers. Many people call her a visionary.

The Commissioner has testified before Congressional staff members in Washington, D.C. about what Westchester has done to meet the urgent need for family caregivers to care for the growing number of seniors in the county. She was a panelist at a forum on global aging sponsored by AARP at the United Nations and a panelist on “Creating Connected Communities for Aging Well” at Georgetown University.

The Commissioner spearheads DSPS’ two signature programs.  One is the Livable Communities: A Vision for All Ages – Bringing People and Places Together Initiative. The goal of this trailblazing and multiyear project is to improve the quality of life for people of all ages and enable seniors to live active lives with independence and dignity as they age in their homes.

Key features of livable communities are informal services provided by volunteers such as health and wellness programs, education and cultural events, safety, consumer protection and advocacy for affordable housing and safe sidewalks and roads. DSPS partnered with the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and AARP New York to develop this project.

The second program is Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors (TIPS), which is one of the top telehealth programs in the United States. Through TIPS, computers remotely monitor seniors’ pulse, blood pressure, weight and blood oxygen levels. TIPS is called “High Tech and High Touch.  That’s because in addition to check-ups of vital signs, participants are assessed to see if they can benefit from any social services in the county.

In June 2014 the Commissioner led a conference on “Successful Aging:  It’s Everybody’s Business.” The conference brought together top names in the telehealth and aging fields.   “MAP:  My Aging Plan” is a special brochure that was developed for the conference under her leadership.  It offers step-by-step guidelines for people from their 20s to their 80s and beyond on what they can do at each age to ease their journey in areas such as finances, employment and housing. 

The Commissioner was a delegate to the National White House Conference on Aging, a catalyst for developing national policies on aging in 1981, 1995 and 2005.  At the 2005 conference, she was a leader in developing the resolution on the need for livable communities. For the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, she is leading regional programs to develop resolutions for consideration, such as ones on retirement security and long-term services and supports.

The Commissioner’s leadership has been recognized with numerous and prestigious awards over the years. Some of them are:

  • 2014 – the Westchester Women’s Hall of Fame Award presented by the Women’s Research and Education Fund for her extraordinary contributions to enhance the lives of older women. Previous winners of this award include Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state; Nita Lowey, the Westchester congresswoman, and the late Ruby Dee, the actress and human rights activist.
  • 2012 - Westchester County was one of the first seven counties or cities nationwide that AARP named to its “Network of Age-Friendly Communities” for its Livable Communities Initiative. Because of AARP’s affiliation with the United Nations’ World Health Organization, the county gained access to resources from WHO’s “Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.”
  • 2010 – DSPS won two International Livable Communities Awards in the United Nations-endorsed worldwide competition in areas that promote “best practices” such as sustaining communities, promoting healthy lifestyles and planning for the future. 
  • 2008 – Ms. Carpenter received the American Society on Aging’s ASA Award, which had traditionally been presented to a person on the national level for outstanding contributions to aging-related services and advocacy.  Ms. Carpenter was the first recipient on the local level to be honored.