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Carr-Joyner steps up when Division needs a new leader


Shelli Carr-Joyner

Division 274’s leadership recently transitioned as the Council Leader, Co-Council Leader, Treasurer and Secretary stepped down from their positions, paving the way for Shelli
Carr-Joyner to step in and take the reins.

Carr-Joyner had been thinking about getting more involved in the union and the decision of the leaders to vacate those positions provided an opportunity.

“I started working with OMH (the Office of Mental Health) in November 2016,” she said. ‘”Immediately, I joined the union. I wasn’t a steward but I did volunteer to help the previous Council Leader because I’m that type of person who likes to get involved.”

Carr-Joyner’s volunteer efforts gave her a taste of what a Council Leader does.

“It was quite interesting to me so I really inquired about
what it would take to be a Council Leader,” she said. “With all four leaders giving up their positions, now was a perfect time to try.”

She ran unopposed for the position and became the Council Leader at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center.

The new Division leadership is diverse.

“I’m an RN, my co-leader is a doctor, our treasurer is a nurse administrator and our secretary is a social worker,”
Carr-Joyner said. “We have a nice rainbow group. We’re hitting different disciplines.”

Shortly after the new leaders took their positions, COVID-19 came blasting in.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get much training because people were out sick,” she said. “We’ve been winging it thus far. Before being in this position, I didn’t realize how many different disciplines are involved in PEF. Once I got in I realized it is a vast amount of disciplines, doctors, psychologists, people from dietary. When I saw this, I realized I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew.”

She didn’t let the daunting task stop her. Instead, she and the new slate of Division leaders hit the ground running and working to support their members during an unprecedented crisis.

“People nowadays want to be informed,” she said.

“Knowledge is power. When people don’t know what is going on you start seeing morale lowered. My goal as a Council Leader is keep members educated, informed and in touch.”

The Division leaders decided to create subcommittees for each discipline in their facility to streamline the flow of information.

“Each discipline will have a go-to person,” she said. “We’ll meet with those go-to people and try to get our members taken care of quickly.”

COVID has been difficult on everyone in the facility, Carr-Joyner said. As Council Leader, she has done what she can to help and boost morale.

“Due to COVID, everyone is running around and they are scared,” she said. “But they have been so strong and dedicated. We thought we needed to do something for them. So, for Nurses and Doctors weeks, we bought umbrellas. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, everyone got one. They were happy with that. That was a huge success.”

There is also a plan to have a heroes breakfast, lunch and dinner on June 19.

“We want to thank them for their dedication,” she said. Carr-Joyner praised Region 9 Coordinator Diane Jaulus and PEF Field Representative Dominick Mannino for their assistance.

“They have been a huge help while we’re trying to get our feet wet and get our bearings together,” she said. Despite the difficulties presented by COVID, Carr-Joyner is happy to be helping her fellow members.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I wanted to be involved to help develop a better relationship between employees and management. When employees need help, I want to be involved.”