For the first 14 years of her life, Carrie Masters was in and out of homelessness, surrounded by drug addiction and relying on programs through UMOM and the Thomas J. Pappas School. She now is SJW’s newly-appointed, first-ever female CEO.
“As an Arizona native who grew up in poverty and homelessness, SJW’s mission personally resonates with me,” shared Carrie. “This provides me the ability to impact the community in which I lived in for a lot of my life. SJW has been around for 35 years and has a backing and following of clients who can rely on them. It’s exciting to work for an organization with a solid foundation and opportunities for growth while being able to impact a massive community of underprivileged people.”
Carrie came to SJW from LGE Design Build, where she spent nearly 20 years. As a young single mom in survival mode, she started as a receptionist. Carrie ultimately became Chief Operating Officer. Her time at LGE provided her unique insight into how to lead people. She sat in a variety of roles, understanding the perceptions, processes and procedures and how they impacted each other. Because of her background, her C-suite experience connected her to people much differently. She had walked in their shoes and serves as a mentor to many former employees.
“People involved in nonprofits such as UMOM served as role models and gave me the support, the love, the push to know there was something different,” Carrie said. “Because of people who contributed to nonprofits and the community, it allowed me the opportunity to do more.”
While at LGE, Carrie also served as executive director of the David R. Sellers Foundation, a nonprofit organization helping LGE Design Build to give back to the community. While at LGE, Carrie helped launch Creation RE/PE, an alternative investment and real estate development firm, serving as its COO. In addition, she launched LGE Design Group, an architecture firm and served as its COO.
Outside of work, Carrie enjoys spending time with her 22-year-old daughter and two rescue dogs. She’s learned to enjoy the simple things in life such as taking in a big breath of fresh air, smelling flowers while walking, traveling and learning about new things.
Looking back – in Carrie’s own words:
When I was younger, I had a spark in me that no matter what the circumstances, I was going to do something better.
I tended to look up to those who were more fortunate whether they were teachers, adults or friends. I had a curiosity around how different they were than what I was seeing and dealing with at home. I wanted to know why they were different and how they were doing it. I was driven to not let my circumstances hold me back at a young age. People involved in those nonprofits that helped my family gave me the example, the support, the love, the push to know there was something better out there. Because of people who contributed to nonprofits and the community, it allowed me the opportunity to do more.
I’m where I am today because people invested in me and I’m a huge proponent of doing the same for others.
I used to ask myself, why did I go through childhood trauma? Why me? I eventually realized I was specifically chosen to endure the myriad of obstacles and associated pain to gain the empathy and the strength I needed to persevere to give back and make an impact on people whether internally within the organization and or externally with clients.
Advice to her younger self:
You can do it. Having gone through what I went through from all angles – including abuse – tends to rip your confidence away from you. You don’t believe in yourself. You think something’s wrong with you. You start to believe nobody like you makes it out of this environment. Survival mode is all my family and I knew.
I had to embark on my own journey to learn how to love myself and how to be a good mom which is very important to me, given how I was raised. I’ve supported my daughter in a way that allowed me the room, support and strength to believe in myself. Success slowly started to come. I had no idea I’d become and executive assistant to a President / CEOand soon, being surrounded by clientele – many of whom were from the first class community – as I grew in my career and landed in the C-Suite people I once looked up to began reaching out to me for advice on how to run their businesses.
So having said all that, what would I tell my younger self? ‘Girl, you got this.’
Carrie’s message to you about SJW:
Arizona is a booming state with a lot of real estate. If we invest a little time and funding into the community in which we live, we’re making it better all the way around. There’s an employment shortage across the board. Many businesses are looking to hire, but are not providing training, skills and tools to get the job. That is where SJW can step in. We are here to provide the candidate with all of the necessary tools and support needed to fill that void. Help us help you. Every dollar counts.It allows us to give back to the local community. We will all benefit from a business lens and from a neighborhood / community lens.