Commissioner, Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS)
Publish Date: February
Mae 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, and speaks frequently across the country on issues that older adults face. Many people have called her a visionary.
She testified before a panel of Congressional staff members in the Capitol in 2013 about what Westchester has done to meet the urgent need for family caregivers for the growing number of seniors in the county. She also testified about what still must be accomplished in coming years as the number of older Americans continues to grow and the number of available family caregivers becomes fewer and fewer.
The Commissioner spearheads DSPS’ 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, which is the federal- and state-designated Area Agency on Aging, partnered with the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and AARP New York to develop this project.
The Commissioner was a delegate to the National White House Conference on Aging, in 1981, 1995 and 2005. Resolutions she helped to develop at the 2005 conference have contributed to setting the national agenda for older Americans through 2015, including the resolution on the need for livable communities. She worked as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representative from 1963-67 where she handled legislative and constituent matters.
She and her initiatives have been recognized with numerous and prestigious awards and honors over the years. Some of the most recent are:
· 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.