Two Friends working together

Two Friends working together

Marla Smith-Nilson, Class of 1987

Marla was an active member the years she attended Benson High School. Her parents Mary Jo and Ken Smith were both teachers for many years at BHS. Marla was the recipient of the Flinn Foundation scholarship which allowed her to travel to countries as far as Egypt. Marla graduated from the University of Arizona in civil engineering, which included building things like water systems. She received her masters in environmental engineering from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

 She attended a UA summer science camp at age 12. That same summer she vacationed in rural Mexico. ” While on vacation, I saw a girl around my age fill a large container with water from a lake, put it on her back and walk off. It really made an impression on me,” recalled Marla.

Marla founded Water1st International (http://watr1st.org/) and continues as Executive Director. The Seattle-based nonprofit has made safe water accessible to more than 165,000 people in Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia and Honduras. They intentionally work in only four countries, so they can really get to know the communities and their partner agencies.

Marla is married and has two children. They live in Seattle, WA. Her Mother, Mary Jo lives in Seattle also.

by J. Hearn

Crissy Ahman Perham, Class of 1988

Crissy was also involved in activities while attending Benson High School. She played basketball. Her dad was the boy’s basketball coach. Crissy was the one-person swim team for BHS. She had to go to Tucson for practice and meets.

She was on the University of Arizona swim team from 1988-1992. She won the NCAA national championship in the 100-yard butterfly in 1991 and 1992. Crissy competed at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where she three medals, two gold and one silver.

Several years later she returned to Tucson and was the Director of Community Relations at Tucson Padres AAA Baseball. Crissy is married and has two children who are also involved in athletics. She now lives in Texas. She joined Marla in Honduras for a Water First International to support this work.

by J. Hearn