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SMU student-led program to address change with 30 women from 19 countries

2016 Women Ambassadors Forum
2016 Women Ambassadors Forum

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The Dallas Morning NewsForum at SMU will promote global gender equality

June 5, 2017

(DALLAS) SMU – SMU student Mirka Serrato and recent graduate Gloria Gutierrez are putting the final touches on the biggest event of their lives – hosting 30 women from 19 countries at the Women Ambassadors Forum, a conference they have organized for June 6-10, 2017, on the campus.

Over the past year they have screened 584 applicants from 84 countries and secured speakers ranging from Meredith Black, first vice president and CMO of the Federal Reserve Bank, to Shelly Zalis, CEO of the Female Quotient and creator of the Girls' Lounge.

Their goal is simple but powerful – to unleash the power of each ambassador and to create a ripple effect of change that goes beyond boundaries and glass ceilings. In addition to listening to speeches on personal growth, business and entrepreneurship, participants will share experiences and strategies at daily workshops.

For a schedule of speakers and more information about the Women Ambassadors Forum visit: http://www.womenaf.org/.

"The forum is all about productivity and problem-solving," Serrato says. "We selected participants who have already been agents of change in their communities and who will benefit from leadership training and networking.”

Attendees will be coming to SMU from countries ranging from Jordan to Jamaica and South Africa to Brazil. 

Serrato, an SMU senior management and marketing major, and Gutierrez, a 2017 SMU economics and international affairs graduate, were involved with the Women's Ambassador Forum when it was created in 2015 at Trinity University in San Antonio. Now SMU students, they approached the Niemi Center for Economic Growth and Leadership Development at SMU's Cox School of Business last fall about bringing the forum to SMU.

"The Niemi Center has proved guidance," says Maribeth Kuenzi, director of the Niemi Center and associate professor of management. "But the students have taken it to a new level. They have taken the skills they have learned in the classroom at SMU to put together a sophisticated endeavor. The impact they could have is endless."

SMU's Engaged Learning Program also has supported the forum.

Speakers at the three-day forum include the following:

  • Carrie Tharp, CMO Neiman Marcus Group
  • Sheryl Adkins-Green, CMO Mary Kay
  • Shelley Zalis, CEO and founder of the Female Quotient
  • Jen Welter, first female NFL coach
  • Meredith Black, first vice president and chief operating officer of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

"Working on this conference has given these students a world of experience," says Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the SMU Tower Center and staff adviser to the forum. "They sought not only to develop their own skills but to address complex issues women everywhere share. I see a bright future because these women will make it so."


Media Contacts:

Nancy George
SMU News

Anna Martinez
SMU Cox News



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