Susan Retik is the co-founder and president of Beyond the 11th. Her commitment to Afghan widows was born from her own journey into widowhood — a journey that began on September 11, 2001, when her husband David was killed.
In 2001 Susan joined the board of the David E. Retik Christopher D. Mello Foundation, founded in honor of her husband’s love of education and athletics to provide grants to encourage compassionate, courageous leaders of tomorrow.
Susan is an inspirational speaker who shares her remarkable story of transforming personal loss into humanitarian outreach, helping others to embrace their own power to make a difference and raising awareness of the struggle of Afghan widows.
Susan was recognized by President Obama in August 2010 with the Presidential Citizen’s Award, the second highest civilian award after the Medal of Honor. Other honors include a prestigious award from Search for Common Ground and Traditional Home Magazine’s Classic Woman award. The Lowell Police Academy recognized Susan for her work against terrorism and she received a Special Recognition Award for Activism from the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance. Susan was interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007 and has been featured in hundreds of other media pieces on television and in print. She is especially proud of Beth Murphy’s award-winning documentary film Beyond Belief, which details Susan and Patti’s 2006 trip to Afghanistan.
Susan was born in Philadelphia and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University, where she met David Retik. Upon graduating, Susan worked in the field of marketing at Scholastic in New York City until moving to Needham, Massachusetts.
Today, Susan continues to champion the cause of Afghan widows, although she is no longer a widow herself. In 2006, Susan married Donald Ger, and in 2008 the couple welcomed a daughter, Rebecca, to their busy family — joining siblings Ben, Molly, and Dina.
Patti Quigley became active in women’s issues after her husband Patrick was killed on September 11, 2001. She and Susan Retik co-founded Beyond the 11th in response to the need of their widowed counterparts in Afghanistan.
With Susan’s blessing, in 2005 Patti resigned from Beyond the 11th to shift her focus to Afghan girls. Patti joined Razia’s Ray of Hope to help pioneering activist Razia Jan fulfill her dream of educating the next generation of Afghan people in order to end a cycle of poverty, despair, and terrorism. Having enjoyed a successful career as an internal auditor and vice president of financial operations at several commercial lending organizations, Patti is pleased to apply her skills and experience to the role of executive director for the foundation.
Patti also supports other nonprofit organizations in her local community, including the Wellesley Education Foundation. She is also an annual participant in the Pan Mass Challenge, cycling to raise money for cancer research. Today, Patti resides in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her two daughters.