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Empowering Communities: A Conversation with Commissioner Christine Peters on Leadership and Service

TipCo Automated Systems proudly collaborates with many forward-thinking leaders in the health and human services (HHS) sector, particularly we wish to highlight the women driving transformative change within their communities. These leaders are keenly attuned to the pressing challenges confronting their county departments, from critical worker shortages to the burgeoning demand for essential programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They recognize the imperative for more efficient and supportive technology to effectively address these pressing issues.

Among these esteemed leaders stands Commissioner Christine Peters, a stalwart advocate for community well-being and progress in Clinton County, New York. With over 20 years of dedicated service to her name, Commissioner Peters brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to public service to her role at the helm of the Department of Social Services (DSS).

Interview with Christine Peters

With her passion for problem-solving and dedication to serving the community, Commissioner Peters eagerly anticipates the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in her new role. Join us as we delve into an insightful conversation with Commissioner Christine Peters, exploring her vision for the future of Clinton County’s HHS sector and her unwavering commitment to advancing the well-being of all residents.

What inspired you to pursue a career in social services, and what motivated you to take on leadership roles within your respective counties?

While attending Plattsburgh State, I did an AmeriCorps internship with then North Country Legal Services (LASSNY), and I was instantly drawn to human services. As I pursued my law degree, I worked in the legal clinic during the academic year, continuing my interest in helping people and serving those individuals who could not serve or help themselves.

When a new Social Services Attorney position was created at the Department of Social Services in 2004, I instantly sought out then-Commissioner Jay T. LePage to see what the position entailed. I was drawn to the department’s mission, vision, and values and told Commissioner LePage that I would commit to him for two years. I instantly enjoyed my position and the work. The idea of being a public servant was always appealing to me, and I grew up in this community, so making it a better place to live was rewarding. As I learned more about social services as an entity and a career, I knew I wanted to contribute in a more impactful way to the vision and values Commissioner LePage spoke of in my interview. I started to learn about all aspects of the department, getting involved in the management team initiatives. Eventually, I accepted a position that increased my exposure to leadership as Director of Legal and Social Services and embraced the position in leadership, learning all I could about social services.

Through Commissioner John Redden’s mentorship, I began to take a more active leadership role in the entire agency and began learning more about how the Department of Social Services fit into and impacted the community. When Commissioner Redden began his succession planning, I knew I wanted to be at the helm of Social Services and continue the philosophy he started of respect and service to the community. Twenty years later, the decision to take a job at DSS was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am proud of the agency, the staff at Clinton County DSS, and my service to my community in this capacity.

What strategies have you employed to address challenges such as staffing shortages, budget constraints, or unexpected crises like the COVID-19 pandemic?

We have developed task-based solutions, reorganized the agency, used technology to leverage solutions, and sought the opinions of other Departments of Social Services to solve the crises we encountered. My staff at Clinton County Department of Social Services is top notch. Without their unwavering commitment to the work, the community, and each other, we would not be where we are today.

With your extensive experience in the field, what do you consider to be the most pressing issue facing social services today, and how do you propose addressing it?

The most pressing issue facing social services today is the lack of depth in the ranks of the employees, supervisory and line staff, as well as staff retention in the face of the challenges we see each day. The problems continue to grow, and it’s difficult not to feel desperate in the face of homelessness, substance use, child abuse and maltreatment, and mental health concerns. Not having experienced staff contributes to the struggle to keep staff.

In what ways do you believe technology and innovation can further enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of social services delivery in your county?

Technology and innovation can streamline tasks for employees. When used effectively, the ease at which work tasks can be done properly and consistently supports employees in doing good work. When employees get their work done and the task is made easier or more effective by innovation, everyone wins. The client gets timely service, the employee feels accomplished and gains confidence, and the supervisory staff sees results. I see technology as being exciting but also as an opportunity to show staff that we care enough to invest in solutions to make their jobs more effective and more efficient.

As you are one of the first leaders in the HHS realm to embrace AI, what made you decide this was a solution for your agency and community?

In partnering with Tipco, I saw this solution as supporting staff and easing some of the burden on both line and supervisory staff. AI can be scary, but compassionate AI is empowering—it empowers workers to do higher level tasks that humans should do, such as eligibility determinations. It also makes tasks that can be time consuming and redundant easier. As a leader, I am always searching for ways to provide better, more consistent service delivery without burning out staff—EVA is the solution to this issue for my workforce. Again, the lack of depth in the workforce and the lack of seasoned staff prompted me to look for outside-the-box solutions, and AI seemed to be the solution that fit. The challenge of a new workforce—specifically a somewhat younger workforce—becomes an opportunity with AI because this workforce embraces technology and is willing to try new solutions to challenges such as the volume of calls or the volume of information coming into my department on the Income Maintenance side of the house. With the workforce challenges in general, individuals are much more used to technology and leveraging technology through automation than ever before, including our clients.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind in terms of your impact on the community and the social services sector?

I hope to leave behind a legacy of innovation, respect, and delivery of services to our community. I want social services to be looked at as a cutting-edge innovator, an economic engine, and highly valued in the community. I want my employees to feel valued and respected as well as supported in providing the best service we can to improve our community. Most of all, I want people to feel valued—clients and employees alike.


As we reflect on our conversation with Commissioner Christine Peters, her remarkable dedication to public service and tireless advocacy for the well-being of Clinton County residents shine brightly. Commissioner Peters’ passion for fostering positive change and empowering clients and employees resonates deeply, reflecting her steadfast commitment to community welfare. We look forward to witnessing the positive transformation and continued success under Commissioner Peters’ leadership. May her tenure be marked by continued progress, collaboration, and a steadfast dedication to improving the lives of all Clinton County residents.

To Commissioner Christine Peters, we extend our deepest gratitude for her unwavering dedication and exemplary leadership. Her vision, passion, and commitment to excellence serve as an inspiration to us all, and her impact on the Clinton County community will undoubtedly endure for years to come.



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