The 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.”
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.
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.