Alumni Award Honorees 2020
The Tufts University Alumni Association will recognize 13 exceptional Jumbos for their career successes, contributions to the university, and civic engagement during an online celebration on Feb. 27.
This year’s Distinguished Achievement Award recipients are William Abrams, A75, A11P, A16P; Julie Salamon, J75, A11P, A16P; Xanthe Scharff, F06, F11; and V. Heather Sibbison, J83, A13P, A16P.
The Distinguished Service Award, for outstanding service to the university, goes to B. Gresh Lattimore, Jr., F65, F70, F72, and Alan D. Solomont, A70, A08P.
Ryan Pandya, E13, will receive the Young Alumni Achievement Award, and Derrick Young Jr., MG17, will be honored with the Young Alumni Service Award.
Lee Gelernt, A84, and Nina Smith, J89, will receive the Active Citizenship and Public Service Award, which celebrates contributions to improving the lives of others.
The Career Services Award goes to Chiamaka Chima, E14, EG16, for work creating career opportunities for Tufts students and alumni.
Service citations will be awarded to Cynthia Valianti Corbett, F78, and Raphael Y. Hui, A06.
Watch the Alumni Award ceremony.
William Abrams, A75, A11P, A16P
Bill Abrams is president of Trickle Up, leading the international development organization in its mission of helping people in extreme poverty and vulnerability advance their economic and social well-being. During his tenure, Trickle Up has helped more than 1 million people start on a pathway out of extreme poverty. He joined Trickle Up in 2005, following a career as a senior executive and journalist for the New York Times, ABC News, and the Wall Street Journal. Abrams has master’s degrees in journalism and business from Columbia University, and while at Tufts served several terms as editor-in-chief of the Tufts Observer. He served for six years on the board of InterAction and is currently on the boards of the US International Council on Disabilities and the Village Temple in Greenwich Village.
Chiamaka Chima, E14, EG16
Chiamaka Chima currently works as an analog design engineer at Intel in Massachusetts. Prior to that, she had done co-ops/internships at Bose Corporation and Analog Devices. She has strengthened relationships between her employers and Tufts, building a more consistent recruiting relationship with the Tufts Career Center, and mentors students through referrals from the International Center, the Career Center, and the National Society of Black Engineers. Chima is the “go-to person to send engineers to when they are just starting to understand the importance of networking,” says Robin Kaplan, associate director at Tufts Career Center. “She is a role model for other international engineers and a strong mentor to women of color, both students and alumni.”
Cynthia Valianti Corbett, F78
A native of Marlborough, Mass., Cynthia Valianti Corbett is the founder and director of the Cynthia Corbett Gallery and the Young Masters Art Prize, an international contemporary art gallery which has an annual exhibition program and regularly exhibits at contemporary art fairs. She trained as an art historian at Christie’s Education before establishing her gallery in 2004. Prior to this, she had a high-profile career as an international economist specializing in emerging markets and was the principal architect of debt conversion plans for Sub-Saharan African countries in the 1980s. Corbett was also a regular commentator in the financial press in both New York and London. She relocated from New York City to London in 1986.
Lee Gelernt, A84
Lee Gelernt is a lawyer at the ACLU’s national office. He is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading public interest lawyers and has argued dozens of groundbreaking civil rights cases during his career, including in the U.S. Supreme Court and virtually every federal court of appeals. He has testified before both houses of Congress. He argued a successful national class action challenge to the Trump Administration’s unprecedented practice of separating immigrant families at the border. His recent work is featured in the documentary The Fight. He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, and for several years was a visiting professor at Yale Law School.
Raphael Hui, A06
Raphael Hui majored in economics and international relations, and is now a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong. He received a J.D. from the City University of Hong Kong School of Law in 2014. In the spirit of community service, Hui does pro-bono legal work and helps organize efforts to provide legal assistance and legal education to the general public. His favorite Tufts memories include attending student organization activities, including Tufts ballroom competitions, themed gatherings with the many culture groups, as well as the many friendships made and kept through the years.
Gresh Lattimore, Jr., F65, F70, F72
Gresh Lattimore saw active duty from 1966 to 1969 in the Navy, serving two sea duty tours aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea as assistant legal officer and air transfer officer; he also taught history at the U.S. Naval Academy for a year. Lattimore returned to The Fletcher School in 1969 and earned a Ph.D. in post-WWII German political affairs in 1972. After teaching on the college level for a year, he went into commercial banking, serving over 30 years in the small business lending community in greater Boston. He retired in 2005 and spent three years in chaplaincy training, and became involved with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Mass., where he helped facilitate a PTSD group of fellow Vietnam veterans for eight years and joined the hospice team. In 2012 Lattimore became involved with the Advocates for Tufts ROTC, and has been an active participant, earning an Alumni Chapter Leadership Award.
Ryan Pandya, E13
Ryan Pandya is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Perfect Day, a food company on a mission to create animal-free dairy products, while leaving a kinder, greener footprint on the planet. Pandya studied chemical and biological engineering at Tufts, where he contributed to seminal research on tissue engineered meat at the Kaplan Lab. After graduating, he worked at MassBiologics, a small biopharmaceutical company in Boston. He realized that the same technology used in the pharmaceutical industry could solve other world issues, including one that was particularly personal to him—the need for better dairy alternatives.
Julie Salamon, J75, A11P, A16P
Julie Salamon is an American author, critic, and storyteller. Daughter of Czech immigrants who were Holocaust survivors, Salamon grew up in Seaman, Ohio, a rural Appalachian village of 800, where her father was the town doctor. After graduating from Tufts, she earned a J.D. degree at New York University School of Law. She worked at the Wall Street Journal as a financial reporter and then film critic, and later became a culture reporter and TV critic at the New York Times. Along the way she started writing books—fiction and nonfiction, for adults and children. The books have received wide critical and popular attention, among them the international bestseller The Devil’s Candy and Wendy and the Lost Boys. She is board chair of BRC, a New York City nonprofit that provides housing and treatment services to homeless adults. She also serves on the board of her synagogue, The Village Temple, as well as on the board of the American Jewish Historical Society.
Xanthe Scharff, F06, F11
Xanthe Scharff is the CEO and co-founder of The Fuller Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to groundbreaking reporting on women worldwide that raises awareness, exposes injustice, and spurs accountability. Under her leadership, The Fuller Project has evolved from a grassroots start-up to a global newsroom dedicated to reporting on women and publishing with leading outlets. She heads an organization that includes several dozen editors, reporters, global contributors, and senior business leaders. As a journalist, her reporting has been featured in Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and beyond. During the coronavirus pandemic, she was among the first to write about the disproportionate impact of the economic crisis on women in a major U.S. news outlet. Earlier in her career, she was the associate director at the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, where she led research and programming on girls’ education and was an education pioneers fellow and a peace scholar at the United States Institute of Peace.
Heather Sibbison, J83, A13P, A16P
Heather Sibbison is a leader in the field of Native American law. She earned her J.D. at the Columbia School of Law, and is a partner at Dentons, a global law firm, and serves as chair of the firm’s Native American Law and Policy Practice, which focuses on legal issues pertaining to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. Sibbison has extensive experience with the Indian Reorganization Act, IGRA, NEPA, various land and water rights settlements, and legal issues that have followed the Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. Her practice represents tribes in the tribal-state compacting process, the development of inter-governmental services agreements, and federal recognition issues.
Nina Smith, J89
Nina Smith is the founding chief executive officer of GoodWeave International, a global NGO working to stop child labor in global supply chains by bringing visibility and voice to workers, restoring childhoods, and providing assurance to companies and consumers. Under Smith’s leadership, GoodWeave has directly rescued some 6,000 children from exploitation and provided rehabilitation, education, and other critical support to these and thousands of other children in producer communicates in India, Nepal, and Afghanistan. A longtime advocate for children’s rights and an expert on addressing labor violations in manufacturing supply chains, she is winner of the Skoll and Schwab awards for social entrepreneurship, and the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s EXCEL Award for excellence in chief executive leadership.
Alan D. Solomont, A70, A08P
A former ambassador and a lifelong social and political activist, Solomont is currently the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts. Throughout his career, Solomont has embraced the power of social activism, civic engagement, and public service to benefit society and promote the common good. Appointed by President Barack Obama, he served as U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra in 2009-2013. Before his posting in Madrid, he chaired the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the home of domestic service programs such as AmeriCorps, VISTA, and Senior Corps. He also served as national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee and is a veteran of six presidential campaigns.
Derrick Young Jr., MG17
Derrick Young earned a Master of Public Health degree from the Tufts University School of Medicine, and has demonstrated his commitment to Tufts as a member of the Tufts Public Health Student Senate and the Tufts Health Literacy Leadership Institute, and as co-founder of the Tufts Coalition for Inclusion. Young has stayed engaged beyond graduation as a member of the Alumni Council and as the previous president of the Public Health and Professional Degree Programs Alumni Association from 2018 to 2020. In addition to his commitment to Tufts, he is deeply committed to Boston and its surrounding community. Young is the founder and executive director of The Leadership Brainery, a nonprofit that promotes educational equity by preparing first-generation and diverse college students to attend top-tier graduate and professional degree programs.