He makes a mean Eggs Benedict, loves the outdoors and proclaims himself loyal to a fault, but the quality Peter Starkey possesses he considers the most important in a relationship is passion.
“Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer or bartender – if you’re passionate about your craft and your forward trajectory in life – that’s sexy,” he said.
Starkey’s work fuels his own passion. As the executive director of Monadnock Peer Support agency, a regional mental health agency that provides a community for those in crisis or distress, he spends his days supervising, providing human resources, public affairs, marketing, quality assurance, budgets and advocacy.
“I work to connect legislators and government leaders with stories, experiences and people who lived those experiences, which is who the legislation affects,” he said. “I want to make sure people have a voice.”
Starkey shares his voice to tell his own story of his crippling social anxiety and depression – he talks about it in his 2018 TEDX talk.
“I’m there for people who are having a rough time or are struggling and want to understand themselves more and just need to talk,” he said. “I want people to know they aren’t alone - that we’re struggling with the same things and they won’t be judged.”
Starkey and his mother, Teresa, moved from Westmoreland to Keene when he was in 4th grade. After graduating from Keene High School in 2010, he attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C. to study international affairs with the goal of attending law school. But the stiff competition and high cost of living led him back to Keene. Soon after he got a job operating the study abroad program at Brattleboro’s School for International Training, where he oversaw global health and safety for students worldwide. He worked there from 2014 to 2017.
While he didn’t have a desire to get his psychology degree, he was interested in how to support struggling students.
“I found the philosophy and training of peer support,” he said. He’d never heard of Monadnock Peer Support, but when he saw the position of executive director advertised, he went for it. He was 25 then in 2017 when he was hired.
Starkey considers himself an extrovert.
“I don’t like being home alone, so I try to occupy myself outside work,” he said. His idea of time off well spent (in addition to quality time with his long-haired dachshund) is volunteering. He’s served on the boards of the Greater Keene Rotaract Club for young professionals, MAPS Counseling Services, 100 Nights Shelter, and he currently sits on the Keene School Board.
While physical fitness is important to him - he lost 100 pounds and enjoys going for runs - he realizes looks fade.
“I’m a sapiosexual,” he said. “I’m attracted to intelligence.”
As an online dater, he’s noticed the pandemic has forced people to interact in a more meaningful way because they can’t just schedule a meeting in-person and judge a date purely on their physical attributes.
It’s more up his alley.
“You have to make it through this barrier,” he said. “You make stronger, more authentic connections.”
Speaking of authenticity, Starkey’s deal breaker is simple yet significant.
“Don’t cheat,” he said.
Second in line to that one: “Someone who isn’t respectful to others, like people in the service industry,” he said.
To win him over, being genuine and vulnerable are key.
“The deepest connections come from being real,” he said, “from struggles and adversity - things that really show who you are as a person and what you’ve overcome. Not from surface-level stuff we tell each other every day of our lives.”
He has plenty to bring to the table.
“I’m warm, fun, outgoing – I’m not boring,” he said. “Life will be fun and interesting.”