Tribune Print Share Text

A lifetime of doing good

Carolyn Compton continues her passion for community relations at Riderwood

Created date

May 25th, 2017
Carolyn Compton is one of the newest members of Riderwood’s Resident Advisory Council.

Carolyn Compton is one of the newest members of Riderwood’s Resident Advisory Council.

Carolyn Compton spent her career working in community relations. Now, thanks to maintenance-free, active retirement living at Riderwood, the Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md., she’s returned to her life’s work.

Natural path

Carolyn studied sociology as an undergraduate and completed coursework toward a master’s degree in interpersonal communications at Oklahoma University.

“I went to Smith College in Massachusetts, and that opened my eyes to a whole new world,” Carolyn says. “I met people from all different countries, religions, and people of color, which I hadn’t been exposed to in Oklahoma. It really, truly changed my life and became a natural path into community relations and civil rights.”

She returned to Oklahoma and became active in civil rights, which led to her appointment as chairperson of the Oklahoma City Community Relations Council. She served as director of the Oklahoma Police-Community Relations Council, a state agency under Governor David Boren. 

“It was a very challenging position,” Carolyn says. “We designed college credit courses for law enforcement throughout the state of Oklahoma through Oklahoma State University.” 

She was recognized for her work as the “Outstanding Oklahoma Woman in Human Relations” by Theta Sigma Phi, the National Women’s Journalism Society.

Carolyn and her family later relocated to Washington, D.C., where she became a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Her work then took her to San Francisco, where she served as the executive director of Region IX Federal Executive Board. The Federal Executive Boards were established by presidential directive in 1961 to improve the effectiveness of federal agencies by coordinating their operations outside of the capital. In her position, Carolyn worked with both military and civilian leaders of government agencies throughout the federal family.

Branching out

When Carolyn and her husband Owen first retired, they lived in North Carolina. But they ultimately wanted to be closer to their children in the Washington, D.C., area, so in 2004 they chose to move to Riderwood, an Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md.

Over the years, Carolyn has found many opportunities to become involved in resident-run clubs and committees at Riderwood. She has served on committees for the Scholars’ Fund, which awards college scholarships to the high school students employed at Riderwood, the Staff Appreciation Fund, and the Benevolent Care Fund, which provides assistance, per the Residence and Care Agreement, to community members who experience a genuine and unforeseen change in their financial situation.

 Carolyn has also been an active volunteer in Riderwood’s on-site television studio, which produces programs for the in-house station. 

“I have been the host for the live call-in general services show for 11 or 12 years,” she says. “I am also the host for the monthly live Arbor Ridge show.” Arbor Ridge is Riderwood’s on-site continuing care neighborhood. 

Full circle 

Recently, Carolyn decided to become even more involved in life at Riderwood. She ran for and was elected to the influential Resident Advisory Council (RAC), which facilitates communication between community members and staff.

“I felt it was time to give my time to help residents have more of a voice and communicate with administration,” Carolyn says. “I am really enjoying it, and I hope I can give back to the community.”

 Each member of RAC is charged with managing communications with a specific department. Carolyn serves as the liaison with the resident life department. 

In the first few weeks of her term, she was busy meeting with the director of resident life and managers from Riderwood’s fitness center, salon, television studio, and other amenities that fall under the resident life department. In this post, Carolyn draws on her many years of professional experience working in community relations.

“I love it,” she says. “Another reason I wanted to join the RAC is because [community relations] was my life’s work, and now I feel like I am back on my path again.”