Published in Spring 2021 Issue of Marist Minute, alumni magazine for Marist College

After a personal transformation, including a cancer diagnosis and trauma recovery, Rae Carter ’98 [Marist College] founded EmpowR, a healing and social justice enterprise centered in co-creating personal and cultural transformation. Designed to empower healthier bodies, minds, and a more just, inclusive, compassionate society, EmpowR helps facilitate healing and culture change approaches to support individuals, communities, and organizations.

Many things can take a toll on one’s health and well-being, including navigating through a pandemic. EmpowR offers support sessions for healing and recovery of physical, emotional, and mental health challenges that could be caused by a health diagnosis like cancer, pandemic recovery, or other stressful situations navigating change and personal healing. EmpowR encompasses a healing sanctuary – land Rae and her partner, Mitch, have stewarded since 2013 in Plainfield, Vermont. The healing sanctuary was born during Rae’s experience with cancer, serving as integral to her healing process. Retreats and workshops are now held to help more people connect to the Earth as a part of holistic wellness and healing the mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Much of Rae’s energy with EmpowR is focused on building a collective of women working on social justice and white culture change. As a facilitator, Rae holds space for uncomfortable dialogues, community building, and organizational change. “I try to encourage the empowering, beautiful, and restorative aspects of culture change and draw the connections between personal healing with anti-oppression work. It is the time for healing our relationships with ourselves, each other, multiple layers of cultural and historical trauma, and the Earth.” Rae and EmpowR co-creators emphasize slowing down to make the space for deeper listening, courageous conversations, community-centered leadership, and decolonizing hearts and minds in order to tackle the system change necessary to address all of the intersectional layers of injustice, oppression, inequity, and disparity afflicting people due to their identities.

“My own experience navigating gender, economic, and health ability inequities as well as a background in communication, human behavior, and social impact gives me proximity to contribute perspective and leadership to cultural transformation conversations and actions,” Rae says. “Our individual behaviors directly influence culture and our ability to be healthy directly informs our behavior. Transformation occurs both personally and culturally when we make constant everyday changes in how we respond to situations by taking responsibility for the impacts of our behavior. The ripples of behavior change alter the paths of our personal and collective healing, social change, and therefore the norms in society. If more wealth and power structures in society can commit to systemic change that creates the space for personal and collective healing, then we can heal the world.”

Rae, formerly known as Rachel, graduated from Marist with a bachelor’s degree in communication. Her career includes being a published author, owning a public relations business, and directing statewide local food systems campaigns. She grew up in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where her journey to EmpowR truly began.

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This article was published in the Spring 2021 Issue of Marist Minute, a Marist College alumni magazine.