Announcing the 2023 Alumni Award recipients

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Faculty of Arts is delighted to announce the 2023 recipients of our annual alumni awards. Chris Williams (BA ’91 Fine Arts) is an Academy Award winning animator, film director, screenwriter, and the 2023 Alumni Achievement Award recipient. Sara J. Cumming (PhD ’14 Sociology) is Executive Director of Home Suite Hope, an award-winning professor, and the 2023 Rising Star Alumni Award recipient.

The Alumni Achievement Award was established in 1998 to recognize the accomplishments of inspiring Arts alumni who graduated more than 10 years ago. Formerly called Young Alumni Award established in 2009, the Rising Star Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and achievements of Arts alumni who graduated in the last 10 years.

Chris Williams, 2023 Alumni Achievement Award

Chris Williams

Chris Williams is a highly accomplished filmmaker and director renowned for his outstanding contributions to the animation industry. With a career spanning nearly three decades, Chris has cemented his place as a prominent figure in the world of animated filmmaking by working on films such as Frozen, Mulan, and Bolt. His most notable achievements include co-directing the critically acclaimed and academy award winning animated film, Big Hero 6 (2014), and producing, directing and writing his latest feature film The Sea Beast (2022), another award nominated film. Chris’ talent, passion, and dedication to the art of animated storytelling has earned him widespread recognition and admiration.

Chris joined us on September 26 for an online Q&A hosted by Mike Farwell (BA '97 English). Read some highlights from their conversation about creating successful films, the importance of collaboration, and the value of a Fine Arts degree.

Sara Cumming, 2023 Rising Star Alumni Award

Sara Cumming

As executive director of Home Suite Hope, Sara Cumming designs programs to help unhoused single mothers put together the crucial pieces they need: housing, jobs, childcare and more. These programs have led to lasting impact for single mothers and their children. Sara is also known for finding creative ways to build ties with the community: sourcing grocery donations for students during lockdown, brokering temporary residences at Sheridan College for Ukrainian refugees. For her current project, the Community Ideas Factory, she's working with 16 local organizations to build a life skills course that can be used and adopted by community organizations across Canada.

Sara's doctoral research at Waterloo laid the foundation for her work at Home Suite Hope and at Sheridan College where she's an award-winning sociology professor. But she also credits her insights to her own experience as the daughter of a single teen mom and a former single mother herself.  Read more about Sara’s work.