Women’s Symposium


Image of Jade Mathis with hands on hips in a citrus orange dress on blue background with map imagery overlayed in yellow on background.

The Women's Symposium featuring Jade Mathis

March 1st, 2023 at 5:30 pm in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballrooms

Program Schedule:

5:00-5:30 PM Check In and Networking
5:30-6:00 PM Dinner
6:00-7:00 PM Community Awards Program and Dinner Program
7:00-8:30 PM Keynote featuring Jade Mathis


Jade Ellis Mathis, also known as “The Resilient JEM”, is an attorney, public speaker, and mental health advocate located in the Washington D.C. area. While following the footsteps of her father, host of the nationally syndicated Emmy award- winning Judge Mathis Show, Jade experienced several obstacles and setbacks on her challenging road to becoming an attorney. After receiving a life-changing mental health diagnosis while in college, Jade was determined to change the way the world views mental health. Her bold, authentic, unapologetic, and unashamed approach to addressing mental health is admired and respected by many. In 2016, she captured the attention of millions across the world by sharing her story of resilience and perseverance in her Don’t Quit, Anything Can Happen viral testimonial video, changing countless lives.

An attorney by trade and a former non-traditional prosecutor, Jade observed firsthand the disparities and deficits in the criminal justice system and felt compelled to make a difference. She created and operated diversion programs as alternatives to incarceration. Dubbed the “Expungement Guru”, she now serves as an influencer and criminal justice reform proponent providing organizations with information and strategies to foster rehabilitation and reform.  


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CORE the Podcast


Core The Podcast


Introducing CORE the PODCAST, an opportunity for all members of the SMU community to participate in the inner-generational dialogue and learning that takes place as part of the Women's Symposium. Listen and Subscribe here.




The Women's Symposium was created in 1966 as a part of the University's Fiftieth Anniversary celebration by the late Emmie V. Baine, Dean of Women at SMU from 1962 to 1988. The Symposium is the longest continuously running program of its nature in the country and one of SMU's oldest and most distinguished traditions.

The annual forum brings together women and men of differing ages and multicultural backgrounds to examine and discuss topics of national interest. The Symposium is a product of a year's work by joint committees of students, faculty, and community leaders. The program features nationally recognized speakers as well as topical seminars and workshops conducted by students, community leaders, and SMU faculty and staff.

CORE Women's Symposium Leadership Committee


  • Help plan and lead the longest continuously running program of its kind in the nation
  • Hear nationally recognized speakers
  • Discuss topics of national, global, and personal importance
  • Network with area leaders and community members

For more information, please contact  (214) 768-4792 or womenandlgbtcenter@smu.edu

Core the Podcast

CORE the PODCAST is on opportunity for all members of the SMU community to participate in the inner-generational dialogue and learning that has typically taken place solely between our CORE members and the Women's Symposium Community Award winner they are paired with in order to get to know them before they have to introduce them at the symposium. The women who are selected as our community award winners have such multi-faceted lives and incredible journeys that they have taken on order to get to where they are today, and we feel like those stories need to be heard. So, we bring you CORE the PODCAST


Image of the 6 community award winners over a yellow and white dotted background with text reading Women's Symposium Community Awards   



The Women's Symposium community awards recognizes women whose actions and example have served to advance the lives of women in the Dallas area. They will be honored and celebrated during the Women’s Symposium dinner on March 2nd. You can join us to celebrate with them to be registering here


The Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award

The Gail Reese Ward Excellence in Mentoring Award commemorates Gail Ward, 1950-2003, who coordinated the SMU Women’s Symposium from 2000 to 2003 and created the Profiles in Leadership Awards program. It recognizes an award recipient for especially significant contributions as a mentor to girls and women.


The Gail Reese Ward Award for Excellence in Mentoring Award Winner:

  • Lisa Culbertson, Head of Upper School at The Hockaday School

The Profiles in Leadership Award

The Profiles in Leadership award honors women who exemplify the purpose of the Women’s Symposium to educate women for social and political leadership.


Profiles in Leadership Award Winners:

  • Dr. Nancy Bernardino, Executive Director, Single Gender & Transformational Cluster, School Leadership A, Dallas ISD

  • Dr. Deanie Kepler, Former Director, Parent and Family Programs/Parent Liaison at SMU (retired)

  • Almas Muscatwalla, Founder & Executive Director, Faith Forward Dallas @ Thanks-Giving Square

  • Kelly Wilmore, Coordinator, Programs & Services, Diversity & Inclusion Chapter Lead, Alzheimer's Association, Dallas & Northeast Texas Chapter

  • Rabbi Elana Zelony, Senior Rabbi for Congregation Beth Torah

Individual Gifts

The lifeline of the SMU Women's Symposium is the individual contributor. Annual gifts from individuals, no matter what size, help fund a significant portion of the operations of the Symposium. Gifts may be made by cash, check, or online with a credit card. Give today and change the world and the women who can make the difference.

Honoraria and Memorials

Gifts may be made to honor or memorialize someone living or deceased. Celebrate a birth, graduation, anniversary or other special event with a gift to the SMU Women's Symposium.