Four award winners.

Frederica Williams (clockwise from top left), C.S.S. ’91, Peter Thielen, A.L.M. ’11, Diane Smith, A.L.M. ’17, and Renee M. Greene, A.L.M. ’19, were honored by the Harvard Extension Alumni Association.

Courtesy photos

Campus & Community

Four recognized for service and leadership

3 min read

Harvard Extension Alumni Association awards outstanding graduates

Whittier Street Health Center President and CEO Frederica Williams, C.S.S. ’91, was recently awarded the 2020 Dean Michael Shinagel Award for Service to Others, presented by the Harvard Extension Alumni Association.

Williams, a Sierra Leone native, has been at the helm of the health center for 18 years, transforming it from a provider of basic health care to a state-of-the-art facility that serves the full continuum of care.

Driven by her faith, work ethic, and her mission — helping “the least, the lost, and the last” — Williams has made a monumental impact on vulnerable populations in Roxbury, Mass., and its surrounding areas.

“There was an opportunity [at Whittier] for me to realize my vision of addressing health disparities, social justice, and economic inequities,” said Williams.

“Our health is our wealth. If you don’t have access to resources, you cannot take care of your health. If you’re homeless, you cannot take care of your health. If you are suffering from food insecurity, you cannot take care of your health.”

Barbara O’Reilly, director of the Alumni Awards, said Williams’ ability to charter a transformative path for her organization while taking on academic challenges and successfully managing family life makes her exemplary of a Shinagel award winner.

“Frederica Williams embodies exceptional leadership advancing social change in addressing health and economic disparities and social justice in the Greater Boston community,” said O’Reilly.

To read more about Williams’ story, visit the Harvard Extension blog.

The HEAA also recognized three alumni as Emerging Leaders, those who show promise as trailblazers in their fields.

“From conducting critical research on COVID-19, leading in mentorship and advocacy at Goldman Sachs, to founding a literary journal dedicated to poetry, flash fiction and short stories; their achievements are nothing short of extraordinary,” said Jill Felicio, director of advancement for Harvard Division of Continuing Education.

Renee M. Greene, A.L.M. ’19, studied international relations to diversify her expertise in finance and military background. Currently serving as Vice President, Credit Trading at Goldman Sachs, Greene also works as a mentor to marginalized students and serves on the associate board of the Council for Economic Education.

Peter Thielen, A.L.M. ’11, studied biotechnology before starting a position at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the Research and Exploratory Development Department. He’s now a senior scientist studying molecular biology and leads workshops for implementing vial genomic epidemiology in low- and middle-income countries.

Diane Smith, A.L.M. ’17, used her journalism degree to strengthen her business, Grey Sparrow Press. Now celebrating 10 years in operation, the company publishes two literary journals as well as poetry, flash fiction, and short stories.