The Wells College Association for Alumnae and Alumni (WCA) has selected Christie Perfetti Williams '00 and Mariam Raqib '97 each to receive the 2018 Young Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement. Selected for their extraordinary leadership, philanthropic service and professional acumen, this year's recipients each exemplify the spirit of the Wells community and demonstrate the power of a liberal arts education.
The recipients will be honored on the evening of Friday, Oct. 19 during Wells College's 150th anniversary weekend. The award ceremony and dinner, which is sold out, takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Macmillan Hall's Art Exhibit Room.
Christie Perfetti Williams '00 is the founder and producing artistic director of Carnival Girls Productions, a New York City-based, all-female theater company. She is an award-winning playwright of over 20 nationally produced plays, as well as a published novelist, screenwriter and blogger. In 2016, Wells College mounted a production of "An Appeal to the Woman of the House," her play about the Freedom Riders of 1961.
Perfetti Williams was born and raised in Oswego, N.Y. She graduated from Wells College with a major in English and a minor in theatre. While at Wells, she was the recipient of several academic awards, including the H. Helena Zachos Prize, Class of 1905 Prize in Poetry, Catherine B. DePau Prize, Phoenix Literary Society Prize, Helen Gertrude Dean Award and Kaufmann Entrepreneurial Scholarship. In 2011 she married and moved to the Jersey shore, where she lives with her husband Greg, son Luke, daughter Eve and their rescue dog, Cleo.
Mariam Raqib '97 is the founder and director of Afghanistan Samsortya, a nonprofit organization that implements grassroots reforestization and orchard development programs in eastern Afghanistan. Samsortya is a Pashtu word which translates to "revitalization of the environment"; since its founding, the group has planted more than 100,000 trees along the Afghan countryside, helping to revitalize a region which has been devastated by more than 40 years of war, poverty and environmental degradation.
Afghanistan Samsortya's work puts an emphasis on community empowerment, developing a diverse and widespread network of partners in the community who play a primary role in the development and implementation of programs that work to establish food sovereignty and continue the reforestization of the countryside.
After graduating from Wells with a double major in international studies and in religious studies and human values, Mariam went on to earn her doctorate in law, policy and society from Northeastern University. She is currently in Afghanistan to assess and further develop Samsortya projects. She has returned to Wells on many occasions to speak about her work; she was selected to give the keynote address at the College's 2014 Activism Symposium and also was a featured speaker in September 2017 as part of the "Sustainability Perspectives" lecture series.
The 2018 Young Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement is being given in recognition and in memory of Nancy Wenner Witmer '61. A longtime friend and supporter of the College and beloved by all who knew her, Nancy filled many volunteer roles over the years on behalf of the WCA, the class of 1961, and the Office of Advancement. An alumna trustee from 2012 to 2017, she was named an honorary trustee in June 2017. She was also very active in her own community of Webster, N.Y., having volunteered for the PTA, the Webster Arboretum Association and many other organizations. She passed away in October 2017.