Tarah Carnahan, recipient of this year’s Alumna of the Year Award for Lee’s Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences, with Dr. Heather Quagliana, right
Tarah Carnahan was honored as Lee University’s Department of Behavioral & Social Science’s Alumna of the Year during the school’s 2022 Homecoming festivities. Ms. Carnahan was recognized for this honor during a special Homecoming breakfast, where she was presented the Alumna of the Year Award.
“Tarah Carnahan is an exemplary representative of our department,” said Dr. Heather Quagliana, chair of the Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences. “She embodies the qualities we hope to instill in all our graduates and uses the knowledge and skills that she learned in the classroom in a practical way. Her life is devoted to service to God and those around her, and she is truly the hands of God to those in need. We have followed Tarah’s work with her non-profit and watched it grow.”
Passionate about the intersections of culture, community and creativity, Ms. Carnahan is the executive director and co-founder of Treetops Collective, an organization committed to the long-term belonging and flourishing of New American (refugee) women and teen girls in West Michigan. Treetops accomplishes this goal through connecting new neighbors to people and opportunities within the community that welcomes them and invests into New American women's leadership.
“Tarah shared her work with Treetop Collectives with us, through which she works with women refugees,” said Dr. Quagliana. “They are transforming lives and communities! Tarah is truly what Lee is about: academics, global awareness, and a call to service. It is my pleasure to have her named as this year’s distinguished alumna for our department.”
Ms. Carnahan holds a Master of Sustainable Business from Aquinas College and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Lee University. Her background is rooted in social enterprise and women’s economic development, from the underprivileged areas of Asuncion, Paraguay, to her current street corner in Grand Rapids. Through her work, she exercises her belief that robust communities begin with the celebration of strengths and a commitment to create room at the table to see those gifts utilized.