The Downsizers

Meet Our Team

ELIZABETH HIRSH, OWNER AND DOWNSIZING MANAGER 

After helping several family members with challenging moves, Elizabeth launched The Downsizers, the Triangle’s leading move management team specializing in serving the senior community and individuals in transition.

Downsizing through a move can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. After speaking with senior communities and individuals going through a transition, Elizabeth realized the tremendous need for these services in the Triangle region and is now driven by a sincere desire to help. 


Thriving on building teams who exude compassion, efficiency, and positivity, Elizabeth enjoys serving the Triangle community.  Elizabeth and The Downsizers are members of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce, National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC), Health Affairs Roundtable (HART). The Downsizers are also a Business Partner of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), an Orange County Living Wage Employer and are certified as a Dementia-Friendly Provider through the Orange County Department of Aging. 


Elizabeth is currently serving on The Board of Directors for (NAPO-NC) - the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers and won "Business Woman of the Year" through the Carolina Chamber in 2020. 

JEN HARRIS, BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS MANAGER

After supporting her mother during the downsizing and relocation process from Florida to the Triangle area, Jen knows the physical and emotional challenges with such a transition. She organized, downsized, packed and got her settled in her new home. Jen found that many of her friends were supporting their parents in this same transition. They felt overwhelmed and alone. Jen joined The Downsizers to provide the senior community, individuals in transition, and their loved ones with a trusted and compassionate resource.

As a Certified Public Accountant and Holistic Health Coach, Jen has supported clients for years through a variety of financial and health challenges. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Virginia Tech, Jen’s ability to determine her clients needs, develop plans of action, and help clients implement these plans have made her well-suited as a Move Manager. In 2020, Jen  transitioned from managing hundreds of projects as a Downsizing Manager to now, leading our Business and Operations Management for The Downsizers. 

Jen is also an active member of the Triangle area community, regularly volunteering through Activate Good delivering meals to homebound individuals, serving dinner at Raleigh homeless shelters, helping local schools, and supporting other local organizations. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, two adult children and Sunny (her energetic Labrador retriever). Jen believes that “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens to us. Not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life.”

IBBY WOOTEN, DOWNSIZING MANAGER

Four years ago, Ibby and her husband made the decision to downsize. After all, the kids were grown and the house seemed so big. They both were caught off guard by how much stuff had accumulated over the years, and how attached they had become to their cherished items. While they managed to overcome the mountains of stuff and their sentimental bonds, the move was actually a much larger “life event” and an emotional journey. They realized that letting go was freeing, liberating and could lead to new experiences and opportunities. Ibby enjoys offering compassion, empathy and encouragement to others throughout the moving process.


When she joined The Downsizers, Ibby’s professional life became a tale of three unlikely, but well-traveled career paths converging into one. With an 11-year career as an Activities Director at a local continuing care retirement community, a 10-year career with an antiques and auction firm, and a career as an event planner, Ibby brings strong project management skills to her clients. With her background, Ibby understands how the senior living industry works and is very familiar with retirement communities in the Triangle Area. She loves to help individuals with decorating projects and understands what it takes to turn a house into a home.


Ibby enjoys spending time with her husband and family. Healthy cooking, photography, antiquing and spending time at the coast are her favorite past times. Ibby is also an avid Carolina fan. Go Heels!

FULLER LANCASTER, DOWNSIZING MANAGER

Fuller Lancaster, who has worked as an Executive Administrator and Assistant Manager, was introduced to The Downsizers through Lead Downsizing Specialist, Kristi.  As Kristi started explaining the mission and scope of the work of The Downsizers, Fuller knew this is a job she was born to do. Both of her married, adult children have sent out SOSs at critical life moves: “Mom, Please HELP we can’t get this done without you!” And in extra-crazy preparation for joining the Downsizers Team, Fuller and her husband, David, have downsized, put items in storage, and moved FIVE times from December 2019 and December 2020. 

Fuller brings to the table a high visual-spatial intelligence, crafted as a professional photographer, but which was formed, she says, "because I had a daddy who could pack a trunk like no one’s business!” Her artistic eye is from her mama, whose uncle painted covers for Better Homes and Gardens prior to color photography.

A life motto for Fuller is “People are more important than things.” She understands: The Downsizers may be brought to the table to manage Things, "but it's only because. the Person, our client, matters most of all."

CATHY MEERBERGEN, DOWNSIZING MANAGER

A lifelong series of moves, both international and domestic, has landed Cathy in the Triangle. This, with professional 
experience in sales and social work and leadership experience in a variety of volunteer capacities have made a perfect 
match for The Downsizers. She is gratified to work with a team of caring people helping clients clear beautiful paths for 
new experiences ahead. 

When not on the job, she enjoys gardening, good food, interior design and the performing arts. Wife and mother of two 
adult children, she is proud of her dual Belgo- American nationality and will happily discuss her second home with 
anyone who asks. 

MELINDA KIZER, LEAD TRAINER & OPERATIONS ASSISTANT 

Working with seniors in many different capacities for over 20 years, Melinda has experienced first-hand how difficult transitioning can be for a senior. She has assisted seniors and their families with the moving process for years. Melinda has the drive, compassion, and patience to work with seniors during what is often one of the most frightening and difficult times in their lives. She has been an advocate for seniors and enjoys helping them achieve their desired outcome. Working with seniors is truly Melinda’s passion. 


SARAH RHYNE, LEAD DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST

After spending over 15 years working at various non-profits and receiving her Master’s Degree in Public Health, Sarah realized it was time for a change. Her last position, Disaster Program Manager at the American Red Cross, was quite literally a 24/7 job that held a lot of responsibility with very high stakes. She managed 100’s of volunteers within 6 counties in NC during calm times and various local disasters.


But in every job the two aspects that she enjoyed the most were: 1) organizing and 2) working one-on-one with clients. Early on in her career, she spent 5 years working at The Container Store, where she got a lot of experience helping people organize, in particular helping to design their closets, but it wasn’t until she decided to embrace her love of organization that she realized buying all the cute containers in the world will not solve the real problem. Decluttering first is the key to creating a calming and lasting organizational system. This is also true when it comes to downsizing.

Sarah’s organizational skills came in handy after her dad died and she had to help her mom downsize from her 6,000 sq ft childhood home to a 2,500 sq ft home. And now 15 years later, she is helping her mom in the beginning stages of another downsize. It is with this knowledge and experience that Sarah wanted to help other individuals and families who are overwhelmed and stressed by the downsizing process.

KRISTI LAMB, LEAD DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST

After her mother-in-law passed away, Kristi was faced with the challenge of going through many years of precious possessions and memories that had been lovingly collected and inherited over several decades.  A short time later, she was faced with the same challenge when her mother had to leave her home due to Alzheimers.  It was overwhelming having to find homes and useful places for practical, valuable and sentimental possessions accumulated over a lifetime, all while finding the best home for her mother and taking care of her mother’s needs as well.


With time and patience, she was able to care for both estates and settle her mother into assisted living nearer to Kristi’s own home. A few years have passed and now Kristi is excited to meet Downsizers, where she can apply the skills and knowledge she learned from her own experiences to help make the same journey a bit easier for other families. Her genuine desire to help each client she works with is seen as she treats each family’s possessions with the same loving care she had for her own families.

KAREN WATT,  LEAD DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST

As a restless retired corporate project manager and baby-boomer who couldn’t sit home any longer, Karen completed organizational management training as her next career after downsizing and transitioning friends and family members.

Karen knows the importance to be able to make new surroundings uniquely represent what a home means and needs to be for each individual. She utilizes many ways to make a new home environment your own by working to help you establish and accept what needs are important for you to successfully move forward.

ANGELA MCGINN, LEAD DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST

Angela joined The Downsizers team after 16+ years of managing the home based alternative education of her three children while simultaneously sourcing and reselling vintage goods and collectibles online. During those years she came to understand the value of practical home organization skills, developed an appreciation for schedule management, satisfied her boundless curiosity while perfecting her online researching skills, and enjoyed helping others make valuable connections with local resources. She also learned to determine the monetary value of vintage items and how to pack them to ship around the world for safe arrival, resulting in repetitive final customer approval. 


Angela also has experience working for an estate sale company and a vintage clothing store.  She has always had a passion for home décor and enjoys creating comfortable areas in her home that tell stories about the people in it. She likes playing with both color and shape and, in recent years, took this interest to the digital landscape by learning the art of surface pattern design to create seamless repeating digital patterns that can be used for manufacturing products like wallpaper, fabric, or wrapping paper.


Her goals are to efficiently assist clients in all aspects of their transition and create positive moments throughout the process.  Angela loves to spend time outdoors with her family and can often be found on long hikes with their pit bull mix, Finley.


NINA MCPHAUL, DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST

Nina has always been the “go to” family member when anyone in her family needed to relocate. Being the eldest daughter in a family of seven children, Nina has both the organization and communication skills needed to help people “downsize” by eliminating the superfluous and retaining the important.

Nina and her husband, a local real estate appraiser, ran a “short-term furnished” rental business in Chapel Hill for over twenty years. She was “Air B&B” well before they were even dreamed of. Nina planned, designed and implemented the furnishings and room layouts while also being the Manager of over 14 rentals. Nina's people skills and ability to listen to people and their wishes has proven to be one of her best attributes. 


Nina has lived in Chapel Hill for 30+ years with John, their two adult children & Corgis. Not one to be idle, she has been an active member of UNC Masters Crew for over 12 years. Interior Design, the kitchen & creativity are all part of her daily life. She has also created a boutique floral business out of her home where she nurtures her insatiable artistic eye. Nina’s typical response when asked “What do you do?” is “Whatever it takes!” and she means it!

KATE BARR, DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST 


After an education and career in various aspects of business for many years, she longed for a change, and returned to college as an adult to earn a BA in Human Services. Kate worked in Recreational Therapy for a large long term care facility in New York. Seeking a fresh start, she moved to be the General Manager for an international Home Care Agency in Asheville. After nearly 15 years of supervising an administrative staff of 8, and overseeing over 100 caregivers working with older adults, Kate moved to the Triangle area to be closer to her family. She never thought that she’d be lucky enough to find a house less than a half mile away from where her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live, but much to her delight, her dream came to fruition. Once she was settled into her new home, Kate felt that she needed more or a sense of purpose in her new life. The Downsizers was the perfect fit! 

 

Kate loves getting to know people, listening to their stories, and lending a hand where needed, especially when it comes to the senior population. Kate didn’t have the privilege of knowing or caring for her own parents as they got older due to them passing “before their time”, so when opportunities arise where she’s able to develop personal or professional relationships with elders, she is looks forward to it. 

 

In her spare time, Kate enjoys bicycling, cooking and entertaining, gardening, hiking, and of course, spending time with loved ones (including her doggie, Otis).

DENISE PREWITT, DOWNSIZING SPECIALIST 


Denise Prewitt is originally from California but in April of 2020, she drove across the country and settled in the city of Chapel Hill to start a new life. Denise is a combat veteran of the U.S. Army who dedicated half her life serving in the military and knows the stresses that come with moving and starting all over. Denise has strong values that she has acquired while working as a Military Police officer in the Army and has a strong belief in family and community. After she left the military in 2019, she obtained her degree and certification from the Department of Veterans Affairs as a veteran support specialist, which allowed her to be a compassionate supporter to her fellow veterans with combat-related stresses, and complex PTSD. She has also worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant in full care and assisted living, where she felt gave her a sense of purpose and genuinely enjoyed working with seniors with disabilities. She enjoys helping others. Denise has a passion for home decor, design, and organization. 


In her spare time, Denise enjoys spending time with family and simply enjoying life in North Carolina.


BRADLEY SCHMALING, SUPPLY MANAGER 


Originally a native of Wisconsin, Bradley moved to Chapel Hill with his family in 2015. Bradley and his family are very familiar with moving, having planned, sorted, packed and settled several times in the past 23 years for school and work opportunities, and finally to be closer to his in-laws and enjoy all that life in North Carolina has to offer. Having lost both of his parents as an adult, Bradley also has first hand experience with downsizing a family home.


Bradley brings a wide variety of skills and expertise to The Downsizers team. He graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in Health and Human Services and Gerontology. His career path has included massage therapy and carpentry, professional photography and many years of work in retail. He was raised in a small town helping his father run the local Schmaling’s Piggly Wiggly and learning the value of service to the community. Bradley brings a hard work ethic and a caring heart to the team, along with a genuine love for working with seniors.


Bradley is married with two children, two dogs, and a cat. He enjoys spending his free time with his family, being outdoors, lake swimming and traveling. He will always be a Green Bay Packer fan, but he married a Carolina grad, so also says Go Heels!!


And this is how our team describes our culture . . .