Alison CarterReceiving her early training and mentorship from the Harvard professor who developed the early concept of management systems, Linda Alison D. Carter, also known professionally as Alison Carter, is an accomplished grant writer, playwright, artist, energy healer and activist. She first embarked on her professional journey as a management systems analyst with the Hartford Insurance Company in 1968, where her boss encouraged her to break the glass ceiling, leading to her becoming a key figure in designing the system to implement new no-fault insurance laws nationwide. Moving into environmental work, she spent the next two years with Buchart Horn Consulting Engineers, where she was the administrative assistant to the chief of environmental services and administrator for a federal grant to study and abate acid mine draining in the Loyalhanna Creek watershed in Pennsylvania. During this time, she discovered that the city of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was burning trash in nearby mine shafts, which was leading to continuous underground fires. Ms. Carter contacted local authorities and was able to get the mines shut down and sealed and the trash burning stopped, which ended up saving the town as it prevented the mine fires from reaching the shafts that ran underneath the city proper.

Inspired to change her career path, Ms. Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in urban planning, magna cum laude, in 1976, following 13 years of night school and a handful of full college semesters, and joined Sinai Hospital of Baltimore as a vocational evaluator in the department of rehabilitation medicine from 1976 to 1978. During this time, a knee injury brought her to energy healing practitioner Janet McGuigan and her recovery led her to seek study in energy healing as well. Following her training with Ms. McGuigan, Ms. Carter spent the next 17 years teaching spiritual development classes, offering guided meditations and facilitating alternative energy healing.

In 1978, Ms. Carter began her work with the state of Maryland’s Mental Hygiene Administration, where she would serve until her retirement in 1993. Serving as an administrative officer and the deputy director of community support services, she was also active as a state grant writer, project director and principal investigator. Over the course of her tenure, she wrote, was awarded, administered and monitored grants from the National Institute of Mental Health that totaled over $13 million, the equivalent of $43 million in 2021. During the last three years of her career, her annual grant submissions received the highest competitive grant scores nationwide, making her to top scoring grant writer in the United States for three years in a row.

Gaining a reputation as the “conscience” of the Mental Hygiene Association, Ms. Carter was a tireless advocate for mental health consumers. Her three top scoring grants were all designed to help change the mental health system and add programs to provide community support for those leaving mental hospitals. She helped to provide startup funding for 12 community support programs over the course of three years and was behind the grant for the first study in the U.S. on job retention in people with severe, long term mental illness, which she saved by shutting it down hallway through and having the researchers resubmit it after it was discovered that the project had exceeded the scope of the initial protocols.

Above everything, Ms. Carter considers the highlight of her career to be her work with the mental health consumer movement. She worked closely with Mike Finkle, the director of On Our Own of Maryland, to develop a number of grant projects that led to the first state funded mental health consumer run drop-in center and the first state and nationwide conferences for mental health consumers. From 1993 to 1995, she secured a federal grant for the Anti-Stigma Project to raise awareness and sensitivity to attitudes about mental health. For her efforts, she was presented with the Visionary Award by On Our Own of Maryland in 2000.

Ms. Carter’s career took another turn in 1988 when she contracted Lyme disease, forcing her into early retirement in 1993. Not willing to let this be then end for her, she turned her attention to activism and, working from her bed, became a founding member and co-director of the Morgan County Citizen’s Coalition in 1998, through which she worked to keep her community safe and healthy. She has also continued to cultivate her skills in writing and photography, which had been side endeavors during her earlier career. Her photos have appeared in calendars and art exhibits, won her numerous awards, and, in 2010, she curated an art exhibit on Star Laws and the Lakota prayer “All My Relations,” which was done with the blessing of two Lakota chiefs. Ms. Carter’s writing catalogue includes, plays, short stories, newspaper columns and a book, “Rainbow Stargate 33,” about how the land she lives on influences her spirituality, which is slated for publication in late 2021.

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