Joan Carpenter: “It’s All About Helping People”

Joan Carpenter

By Kia Croom Over the last 15 years, Joan Carpenter has helped establish viable community services, powerful coalitions and community partnerships in the West County. As District Coordinator for Supervisor John Gioia, she is the go-to person for constituent relations and linkages for support services in West Contra Costa County. “It’s all about helping people. I took interest in community arbitration and mediation years ago. I enjoy helping constituents resolve issues and get resources they need. It’s an easy job because I love my community and people,” Carpenter said. The Richmond native attended UC Berkeley where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Carpenter began working in constituent relations in 1998 after volunteering in Gioia’s first run for Board of Supervisors to represent District 1. “The bottom had fallen out of the economy. The IT industry had crashed, and I had recently gone back to school to work in the IT field.  During this time, I volunteered on John Gioia’s campaign. After he was elected, he asked me to come to work for him,” she said. “The job came with great flexibility at a very critical time for me.  I was caring for my mother who had suffered a massive stroke, while also caring for my grandmother who was also very ill.” Carpenter says she has enjoyed a fulfilling career in public service. Through her efforts, Gioia’s office has created critical services that have impacted thousands of community members: West County Babies, The West County Homeless Coalition, and the West County Senior Coalition. Additionally, Carpenter is involved in a number of community and civic organizations including the Soroptimist International of El Cerrito and the League of Women Voters, where she has been instrumental in helping to promote diversity. Above all of her accomplishments, Carpenter says she is most proud of her grandson, currently a sophomore and quarterback for Utah State University. “My grandson took the team to the Potato Bowl! I am a proud grandmother,” she said. Today, Carpenter celebrates her own rich heritage—a legacy passed down from her great-great grandmother who was a midwife, down to her mother who was one of the first Black Nurse Practitioners in Contra Costa County. “My mother ran the first clinic in Richmond on eighth street. I truly come from some awesome women,” she said.
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