SMU Women’s Symposium celebrates 50 years, looks to the future Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award

SMU Women’s Symposium celebrates 50 years, looks to the future Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lilly Ledbetter

Equal-pay activist Lilly Ledbetter will give the keynote speech at SMU’s 50th annual Women’s Symposium Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

The SMU Women’s Symposium will examine women’s progress through the last 50 years as part of its own golden anniversary celebration on Wednesday, March 4, 2015,

More than 600 attendees are expected to gather at the Symposium, created in 1966 as part of the University’s commemoration of its 50th anniversary. Now the longest running event of its kind, the student-led symposium has challenged, changed and broadened women’s perspectives on campus and in the community.

Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and an advocate for gender wage equality, will present at noon a keynote address about her 10-year battle for pay equality at Goodyear Tire and Rubber.

“Lilly Ledbetter represents women using their voices to create change,” says Karen Click, director of SMU’s Women and LBGT Center. “We’ve been inspired by that for 50 years and hope that we continue, as women, to examine our voices and use them.”

Past speakers have included Hillary Clinton, Maya Angelou, Margaret Mead, Marlee Matlin, Patricia Ireland and Eleanor Clift.

Women's Symposium 2015“For me, Women’s Symposium was a unique opportunity for women to come together to discuss issues in a supportive environment,” says Meg Wuebbels Leal, a Phoenix attorney and government relations specialist who was involved with SMU Women’s Symposium as a student in the late 1980s. “It serves as a great example to young college-age women of how to network and support one another.”

The 2015 symposium will feature a community resource fair, book signing and community awards reception and dinner where Merriott Terry, executive director of IGNITE Texas, will receive the Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award.

The Profiles in Leadership Award will be presented to Roberta Berger, licensed professional counselor and psychologist; Ashley Elsey, founder and owner of Minerva Consulting; Pam Gerbber, executive director, Entrepreneurs for North Texas; Liz Cedillo-Pereira, attorney and founding partner of Cedillo-Pereira and Associates; and Nellie Tafalla, community activist.

The symposium is open to the public and will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

Written by Nancy George

> Visit the SMU Women’s Symposium online: smu.edu/womsym
> Find a complete schedule at the SMU News website

March 2, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Year of the Student|

‘Women Are Superheroes’ in SMU’s 2014 Symposium

SMU Womens' Symposium 2014 - 'Women Are Superheroes' graphicThe SMU Women’s Symposium celebrates its 49th anniversary with a focus on using your power to change the world for the better.

U.S. Air Force veteran Kimberly Olson, president and CEO of Grace After Fire, is the special guest for the 2014 Symposium, “Women Are Superheroes.” Olson will deliver the Emmie V. Baine Lecture during lunch on Wednesday, March 5, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.

This year’s theme has shaped Symposium programming in both literal and figurative ways, says Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives. “Imaginary superheroes may be heroes of strength, or they may be sexualized partners – but a real-world interpretation is of women who have changed our world, have been great mentors and have amazing powers for good.”

Keynote speaker Olson embodies the bridge between these ideals, Click adds. “She was a literal superhero as a career Air Force pilot who flew into combat and used her strength and skills, plus some incredible technology, to defend our nation. And she’s a figurative one as well, as the leader of an organization whose purpose is to support other women veterans.”

Student organizers are excited about both the theme and their guest, Click says. “Superheroes have been an important part of their collective imagination, and they seem thrilled to have one in their midst,” she says. “Military life seems pretty distant to most of our students as well, and they’re looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about a woman who lived that experience.”

> Find a complete list of 2014 SMU Women’s Symposium events

A variety of Symposium interest sessions will address topics ranging from comic-book depictions of women superheroes, to “Wonder Women” of the workplace, to the pressures of living up to the “Supermom” ideal.

The Symposium is the oldest continuously running program of its kind in the country and attracts hundreds of community leaders, high school students and college students, faculty and staff members each year. Programming is designed by the Symposium Advisory Board and Student Planning CORE Committee.

> More about the Symposium Student Planning CORE Committee

The Symposium will also recognize the winners of its 2014 Profiles in Leadership Awards and Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award. The recipients are:

Profiles in Leadership Awards

  • De’ Edra S. Williams, engagement director of Paranet Solutions
  • Ethene Jones, founder of the Humanitarian World Foundation
  • Monica Urbaniak, director of prevention and outreach and bilingual therapist at the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center
  • Mavis Knight, Education advocate and member of the Texas State Board of Education
  • Cecelia Guthrie Boone, philanthropist and chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award

  • Linda Hall, chair of the Board of Directors of Wisdom’s Hope and advocate for the homeless

For more information, contact the Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, 214-768-4792.

> Learn more and register online at the SMU Women’s Symposium website

January 27, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

2013 SMU Women’s Symposium minds the age gap March 6

SMU Women's Symposium 'Mind the Age Gap' logoFor its 48th anniversary, the SMU Women’s Symposium is using a new format to explore age-old questions about the differences and common ground among generations.

Associate Professor of Management and Organizations Ellen Jackofsky and senior art history major Bekah Boyer will participate in a moderated discussion on this year’s theme, “Mind the Age Gap.” The Emmie V. Baine Lecture event will take place during lunch on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.

This year’s event promises to be “a very different kind of symposium,” says Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives. “I visit many different women’s organizations in Dallas, and most of their membership is over 60. They want my help in reaching out to younger women.”

But those efforts are hindered by “a feeling of incapability” shared across generations, Click says. “Younger women are worried about taking on the responsibility of keeping up the push for women’s rights. Older women are worried that their experience no longer matters. When women should be uniting to tackle issues, we’re stuck reinventing the wheel.”

This year’s event will focus on how those gaps affect the community, Click adds. “We see this specifically as an issue impacting Dallas, so we decided not to seek national speakers.”

> Find a complete list of 2013 SMU Women’s Symposium events

“We believe that each generation of women has something different to contribute,” says senior political science and management major Pooja Patel, co-chair of the Symposium’s CORE student planning committee. “By trying to minimize the ‘gap’ or disconnect between them, women’s groups in Dallas will be stronger and more effective.”

A variety of Symposium interest sessions will address topics ranging from the generationally shifting barriers to reproductive rights to how age affects women’s perceptions of appropriate (and inappropriate) fashion choices.

The Symposium is the oldest continuously running program of its kind in the country and attracts hundreds of community leaders, high school students and college students, faculty and staff members each year. And for some participants, including CORE co-chair Kimberly Elmazi, it’s a family legacy.

“All three of my elder sisters participated in CORE during their time at SMU,” says Elmazi, a junior political science and international studies major. “Eight years after my third eldest sister graduated from SMU, I joined the committee as a first-year. Now I’m a co-chair.”

More about the Symposium Student Planning CORE Committee

Elmazi is especially looking forward to the interest session “The Incredibles: Can You Have It All? Gender Roles and Reproductive Rights” because one of her sisters will be a speaker. “It’s funny how things have come full circle,” she says.

The Symposium will also recognize the winners of its 2013 Profiles in Leadership Awards and Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award. The recipients are:

Profiles in Leadership Awards

Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award

For more information, contact the Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, 214-768-4792.

Kelsey Reynolds (’14) contributed to this article.

Learn more at the SMU Women’s Symposium website

March 1, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Marlee Matlin to give keynote at 2012 SMU Women’s Symposium

Marlee MatlinAward-winning actress, author and activist Marlee Matlin will give the Emmie V. Baine Lecture at SMU’s 47th annual Women’s Symposium Wednesday, March 7, 2012. The event is the longest continuously running program of its kind in the country.

The 2012 theme is “Making the Leap: Women as Agents of Change” – a concept exemplified by the keynote speaker, says Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives. “Marlee Matlin has been an amazing change agent for Deaf advocacy. She is a very talented actor and author who has set her goals high and worked to achieve them,” Click says.

In 1986, at age 21, Matlin became the youngest woman and the only Deaf person to win an Academy Award for best actress when she took home an Oscar for Children of a Lesser God, for which she also won a Golden Globe. Subsequently, she earned two more Golden Globe nominations for the TV series Reasonable Doubts. She has received 5 Emmy Award nominations for her appearances in series including SeinfeldPicket FencesThe West WingThe L Word, Desperate HousewivesThe Practice and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

As runner-up in the 2011 season of The Celebrity Apprentice, Matlin raised in a single episode a record-setting $986,000 for her charity of choice, The Starkey Hearing Foundation. (Series star Donald Trump kicked in $14,000 of his own to make the contribution an even $1 million.) In addition, she competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2008. Her autobiography, I’ll Scream Later, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009 – the same year in which she received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Matlin has served as an advocate for the Deaf and for persons with disabilities in general, as well as for LGBT issues. She is a tireless proponent for the expansion of closed captioning in all media.

The Symposium will examine all aspects of change, Click says. “How do we start to change? How do we feel about change? How does one person make a change in the world? We will even be looking at the literal and physical changes that women go through,” she says.

The Symposium’s evening program will honor the recipients of the 2012 Profiles in Leadership Awards. This year’s honorees include:

  • Rabbi Nancy Kasten, community advocate
  • Jill Johnson, board chair, Dallas County Historical Foundation
  • Courtney Underwood, sexual assault advocate
  • The Hon. Carolyn Wright, Chief Justice, 5th District Court of Appeals
  • Abby Williams, philanthropist

In addition, the Symposium will honor Cheryl Mayo, executive director of the West Dallas Community Center, with the Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award for “especially significant contributions as a mentor to girls and women.”

Symposium participants range from high school and college students to new career women to seasoned professionals, Click says. Additionally, SMU reserves 20 spaces each year for clients of local violence shelters. “Our hope is that all of these individuals learn that whatever age, status or experience, we can all learn from each other,” Click says.

“I also hope that our SMU students are motivated to see the world around them and look for opportunities to change it for the better. I hope we all realize the power that is held when people find a common goal.”

Early registration is open through Wednesday, Feb. 29. Limited seating may be available at the door, depending on preregistration numbers. Register online at smu.edu/womsym, or download an SMU faculty-staff registration form (PDF format). For more information, contact Karen Click, 214-768-4796.

> Visit the SMU Women’s Symposium homepage

February 23, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Julie Powell to give keynote at 2011 SMU Women’s Symposium March 2

Julie PowellAuthor and food enthusiast Julie Powell, known to millions as one half of “Julie & Julia,” will deliver the Emmie V. Baine Lecture during SMU’s 46th Annual Women’s Symposium. This year’s event is scheduled for March 2, 2011, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.

Powell will speak during lunch at the Symposium, which is the oldest continuously running program of its kind in the country and attracts hundreds of community leaders, high school students and college students, faculty and staff members each year.

The topic, “Happiness Is…,” was the result of brainstorming by the Symposium advisory board, CORE student planning committee and staff members, says Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives.

“We found we’re often comparing notes with each other about that secret to happiness,” she says. “Women are constantly trying to understand this thing. There are so many false paths to happiness, so much money spent in pursuit of it, so many dynamics involved in seeking and finding it. We thought it was a great broad theme, and the entire community can relate to it.”

Finding the ideal keynote speaker was the next challenge. “Most people don’t get their degrees in happiness or work for the Department of Happiness,” Click says. Powell’s biography and body of work stood out in that regard, she says.

In 2002 Powell, an Austin native, worked in the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s call center, answering questions from victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and complaints from the public about the LMDC’s plans for rebuilding on the World Trade Center site. In search of a sense of direction in her life, she decided to cook every recipe in the landmark 1961 book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, cowritten by Julia Child, and blog about her experiences. Those writings, collectively known as The Julie/Julia Project, led to Powell’s first book, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, published by Little, Brown in 2005. The book in turn helped inspire the major motion picture “Julie & Julia” starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, released by Columbia Pictures in 2009.

But wealth and fame brought no contentment. Powell almost lost her marriage and went through a series of financial disasters that ate into her new fortune. “Basically, she discovered she wasn’t happy at all,” Click says. “She became a butcher’s apprentice to rediscover her spark and motivation, and she wrote her second book about that experience.” Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession was published in 2009.

The Symposium will present a variety of interest sessions on the subject of finding happiness, as well as a show by the Dallas improvisational comedy group Heroine Addiction.

In addition, the Symposium will recognize the winners of its 2011 Profiles in Leadership Awards and Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award. The recipients are:

Profiles in Leadership Awards
Lois Finkelman, public policy consultant
Candace O’Keefe Mathis, CEO, Foundation for Women’s Resources
Peggy Sewell, philanthropist and director, Sewell Automotive Companies
Karen Shuford ’70, charitable trust consultant, Bank of America Private Client Group
Kathleen Wu, partner, Andrews Kurth LLP

Gail Reese Excellence in Mentoring Award
Phyllis Bernstein, philanthropist

Symposium attendance is discounted for SMU faculty and staff, and students can attend free. The online registration deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 23. Register through the Women’s Symposium website or contact Wendy Smith, 214-768-4792.

(Photo of Julie Powell ©Kelly Campbell)

> Learn more at the SMU Women’s Symposium website
> Visit Julie Powell’s website at juliepowellbooks.com

February 22, 2011|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|
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