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

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