Two '93 Graduates Receive GAA's Distinguished Young Alumni Awards

 Serena Wille ’93, left, and Wendy Bounds ’93.

Serena Wille ’93, left, and Wendy Bounds ’93. (Photo by Dan Sears ’74)

A Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote a book about finding a home after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and a lawyer who helped trace terrorists’ finances for the 9/11 Commission have received the UNC General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumni Awards for 2007. The GAA honored Wendy Bounds ’93 of Garrison, N.Y., and Serena Wille ’93 of Washington, D.C., at a dinner ceremony Oct. 5 for bringing credit to the University through their achievements.

“The remarkable accomplishments of many of Carolina’s younger alumni are truly inspiring,” said GAA President Douglas Dibbert ’70. “The GAA delights in presenting each year the Distinguished Young Alumni Awards to those who have made our alumni and our university so proud.”

Bounds joined The Wall Street Journal after graduating from Carolina, where she was editor-in-chief of The UNC Journalist, then the magazine of the journalism school. She writes about the quirks and challenges of small business and entrepreneurship in the Journal’s “Enterprise” column. She also pens a column on home improvement called “Did It Myself” for the paper’s Saturday “Weekend Journal” section. Bounds has chronicled the rise and fall of companies in many industries, including fashion, travel, retail, marketing and media.

Her first-person essay “Amid the Ashes, Baby Carriages, Shoes, Family Photos,” which she wrote with fellow Journal reporter Kathryn Kranhold, won the 2002 Front Page Award for 9/11 commentary from the Newswoman’s Club of New York.

The events of 9/11 had a direct effect on Bounds’ life and work. She lived next to the World Trade Center, a short walk to the Journal, until the attacks left her homeless. While looking for a place to live a safe distance from New York, she came across a deli with a small bar overlooking the Hudson River. There she learned about the efforts of the family who owned the place to keep it open after the father became too sick to work every day. The conversation inspired Bounds to help out at the bar herself, and led to her 2005 book about finding home again in the midst of so much upheaval, Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most.

Bounds, a native of North Carolina, recently launched the Journal’s small-business blog. She reports as a weekly financial correspondent for CNBC and regularly contributes to Good Morning America.

Wille, who came to Carolina as a Morehead Scholar from Connecticut, was one of a small group of undergraduates who dreamed up APPLES, the first student-run service-learning program in the country. APPLES provides a way for students to use what they learn in class to help the community, and to use what they learn in the community to strengthen and solidify what they learn in class.

After graduating from Carolina with a degree in political science and going on to get a law degree at Harvard, Wille worked on international financial transactions at corporate law firms in Manhattan and London. She was in New York when the planes hit the World Trade Center and led a group who helped at a Red Cross station at Ground Zero. She left corporate law when the 9/11 Commission asked her to help trace terrorist financing. She helped track how al-Qaeda moved money, as well as provide an accounting of the attacks, assess the U.S. government response and make recommendations on how future attacks can be prevented.

That experience brought the power of public service home to Wille yet again, and she went on to work for the CIA investigating illicit finance issues. She has since returned to corporate law at the firm of WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., and makes time for pro bono work, setting up credit agreements for international micro-lending projects.

Since 1989, the GAA’s Distinguished Young Alumni Awards have recognized alumni age 40 or younger whose accomplishments have brought credit to the University.

Related coverage is available online:

  • Hey You — Where’ve You Been? Maybe Little Chapel on the River always was a book waiting to be written.
    Coverage of Wendy Bound’s book from the September/October 2005 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.
  • Tracking Terrorists Dollar by Dollar: There are many ways to hit the best-seller list. Ditching a fulfilling corporate-law career to toil on a government panel typically isn’t one of them. But then, the details that lawyer Serena Wille ’93 and her fellow 9/11 Commission investigators unearthed about the terrorist attacks made for an uncommonly riveting final report.
    This alumni profile of Serena Wille appeared in the November/December 2004 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.

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