DIRECTOR OF HOUSING, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES NORTH, INC.
Hometown: Grindstone Island, Thousand Islands, NY
Education: Bachelors of Arts (1999), Bachelors of Science in Social Work (2004)
Community Involvement: 2014-present Board of Directors, Clinton County Housing Coalition – Continuum of Care; Board of Directors, ETC Housing Corporation; Clinton County Adult Single Point of Access Committee; Housing and Rehabilitation Selection
Elizabeth Carpenter may be one of the most genuine people you may ever meet. She brings a passion and drive to her work and family exuding that intensity of real change-makers. In an industry where outcomes and successes are measured by providing safe, supportive, affordable transitional and permanent housing for area residents, the stakes are incredibly high. Liz Carpenter is a powerful force, unrelenting in her challenge to improve every aspect of what she does. When you meet Liz, you are instantly disarmed by her warm smile followed by her open, honest, welcoming persona. She is a strong voice and participant in the movement to reduce stigma relating to mental health and substance use disorders. For a young woman who grew up in the Thousand Island region, taking a “school boat” to the mainland, Elizabeth Carpenter has offered the North Country a gift – her presence is a present.
Who are your favorite influencers?
I sincerely believe that I can learn something valuable from every person I encounter. However, there are some folks who have influenced me more than others over the years: Dr. Richard Beach, speaker at PSU 1999 December graduation, said “Graduates, if you don’t remember anything from today, listen and remember this. Bullshit may get you to the top, but it WILL NOT keep you there!” Mentors include Mary and Nat Natalie, my husband, my parents, and the dedicated people I work with at BHSN.
What’s the single most important characteristic for success?
Honesty, but responsibility and personal accountability are close seconds!
What’s your biggest professional success?
I’ve experienced several successes over the years that were significant to me in different ways but overall would have to say the one I am the proudest about is the tremendous growth within our Supported Housing Department. In 2004, we had one program with a staff of one serving 40 households in Clinton County. As of 2018, we have four housing programs with a team of more than thirteen (at one point), serving over 110 households in Clinton County.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I don’t. I struggle with this often and find it very challenging to provide equal amounts of time consistently to my marriage, family, friends, work, and self-care. I do have wonderful people in my life that remind me “Not to get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. I try every day.
What’s most exciting trend happening in the community right now?
The decrease of stigma and willingness to help those struggling with mental health and/or addiction within the business community and private sector. Also, the community’s embrace and validation of human experiences as evidenced by the growth of Peer Support Specialists, Peer Recovery Coaches, the grass roots movement of people coming forward in support of the SPARRC coalition and sharing their experiences with family members/friends, etc. Tremendous.
What can the North Country do to make this region more appealing to a younger generation?
Have more concerts and popular artists play at the Strand, more activities available late at night and/or on the weekend, offer job opportunities that pay well and offer opportunity for advancement, have more safe, affordable permanent housing.
How do you contribute to the culture of your company?
I acknowledge and celebrate others successes and achievements and strive to offer a welcoming presence.