About Carla Carlisle…

 Carla Carlisle is a speaker, author, and mental health advocate. Carla became a foster parent in 2010 to a baby boy born two months prematurely. Her relentless quest for motherhood would lead her on an eight-year, unconventional journey to rescue the child she now calls her son. Carla’s calling is to minimize/eliminate Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their impact; focusing on family and children.

She is an active Board Member of the Alexander Children’s Foundation (Alexander Youth Network), Storyteller with Mental Health America of the Central Carolinas, and volunteers with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Charlotte Chapter).

Carla works for a global financial services company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carla earned her B.A. in sociology from Indiana University in Bloomington. She also earned an M.S. in human resources management from American University in Washington, D.C. and another in organizational development from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. In addition, Carla has obtained a graduate certificate in change management from Johns Hopkins University. None of these degrees prepared her for loving and fighting for the life of the child of her heart. She is the proud mother of three boys and two dogs.


Learn more about Carla’s Talk…

Title: The Least and the Lost

Description: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact children into adulthood without social buffering. ACEs increases a person’s likelihood of trying to die by suicide by as much as 1200%, I almost lost my child at the tender age of 6, and consistent exposure to his family’s intergenerational trauma impacted my own mental and physical well being. Trauma and mental health are as important as physical health, without advocacy and support, the impact can be devastating to the individual and society.

What do you want people to learn from your talk? I want people to learn two key things: the connection of mental health (especially ACEs) and physical health and the importance of everyone taking ownership by helping/advocating for those who didn’t have support as a child and their children (The Least and The Lost).

What action items do you want people to take away from your talk? Learn more about ACEs. Volunteer to provide support; via foster care, respite, donations, advocacy (legislative and other) – and to just be more kind and understanding that everyone wasn’t born into the same circumstances.


Learn more about Carla…

Where is your hometown? Kokomo, IN

What are your hobbies? I had to think about this one. Used to be traveling and shopping. Now it’s more like watching my kids play football and rugby and I still shop. Reading, journaling (using Apple Notes), and staying connected to my undergraduate and high school friends. Mentoring, listening, and speaking engagements.

What are you passionate about? Mental Health, Infertility, Children (they really are our future).

What draws you to Charlotte? I was married and having major issues, my husband wanted to move away from the DMV to Charlotte, but our problems came with us! Once I met my son, I knew this was home for as long as I was honored to be his mother. Charlotte is growing and with it comes a divide between the “haves” and “have nots”. I work tirelessly to help keep Charlotte a great place to live for everyone.

What is the best compliment you’ve received? That I am graceful (so not true). Seriously though, that I made an impact on their future (in a positive way).

What do you want to be remembered for? The legacy I want to leave is that I made life better for children and helped them to become good citizens with self-esteem and joy. That is success.

How do you push the boundaries? I rarely accept no for an answer, the first or second time. I push passionately and look to meet people where they are by sticking to the facts (and feelings), but appealing in a way that is well received by the other party. When it comes to children, I do buck the system. Not every rule is helpful. The example would be with my son. He was given to his birth mom when he was six months old. I knew he wasn’t going to be safe as there were no guardrails in place to provide support to the birth mother or him. If I believed he was going to be safe, I would have let go. But the “system” had moved on to the next child. Against DSS advice, I let my foster license go and stayed connected to my son (now adopted son). I lost friends and was very much misunderstood about this. He was worthy. He is worthy. For children, I will push any and every boundary, especially when it comes to their health and well being.

What does your happy place look like? On the beach relaxing, watching my boys play (safely) in sand and water, sipping a cocktail with eye candy nearby. Laughing uncontrollably until my stomach hurts. My closest girlfriend by my side. Later we go get massages, go shopping, and dancing while the kids are asleep or busy doing something (with supervision). yea mon!

What is one thing that you would like to share that is unknown about you? I used to work for the FBI for nine years doing foreign counterintelligence investigations. I became tough as nails (small-town girl meets the big city and has to toughen up). I learned to take the “never let ’em see you sweat” approach to everything. That served me well until I met my son, then I “became human” as one of my employees told me. I’ve done a 180-degree turnaround. My “toughness” has a purpose… if it’s focused in the most positive ways.

Where do you see Charlotte in 5 years? Charlotte is growing by leaps and bounds. I love to see how we are expanding culturally. I am concerned about the growing number of homeless and lack of infrastructure to support the growth. We have to be intentional about putting health first or we can end up like any other metro city. The QUEEN city has a heart, I’d like to see us hold on to that tight and being intentional about our people will ensure we stay that way while growing.


The most important questions…

What animal will be our future overlords? I laughed out loud and thought a cougar (in a joking way), but I’d say a panther for obvious reasons. 🙂