SMU celebrates 50th anniversary of Women's Symposium

The highly respected SMU Women's Symposium celebrates its 50th anniversary Wednesday.

Womens Symposium 2015

Dallas (SMU) – The SMU Women's Symposium will celebrate its 50th anniversary Wednesday, March 4, with an examination of women's progress through the last 50 years. 

Lilly Ledbetter
Lilly Ledbetter 

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."

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, 3140 Dyer St. Visit visit for registration.

More than 600 attendees are expected to attend SMU Women's 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.

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

Women's Symposium 2015 Logo"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-aged women of how to network and support one another."

Designed to create equal standing for students and women from the community, assigned seating and head tables are absent from the keynote luncheon. Instead, women select seats by table topics. Winners of leadership awards at the dinner are introduced through heartfelt introductions created by students they mentor instead of traditional biographies.

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 Ward Award for Excellence in Mentoring. 

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.

Events Schedule

11 a.m. Registration and Community Resource Fair

12 Noon Luncheon, Lilly Ledbetter, advocate for gender wage equality

Topical table discussions

2 to 4 p.m. Interest Sessions

"Fashion Through the Ages,"Camille Kraeplin, director of fashion media, associate professor of journalism, SMU Meadows School of the Arts

Camille Kraeplin will discuss how fashion has evolved over the past 50 years and how that reflects on women. She will discuss how fashion reflects women's freedom and how women express themselves through fashion.

"An Opportunity, a Chance, and a Job: Women in the Workforce," Brenna Smith, CEO and founder of SheNOW

As founder of an online community and organization that helps women develop their careers, financial independence and community service, Brenna Smith will discuss the career paths of women over the last 50 years, as well as the future of women in the workplace.

"Global Women: Balancing Culture and Progress,"Dilshad Dayani, president and founder of World Women Global Council, and National Diversity Women's Council

Journalist, speaker and consultant Dilshad Dayani will discuss women's global progress in the last 50 years and understanding cultural perspectives of success, challenging social and cultural conformity and attaining life balance.

"The Origin of Genesis Women's Shelter: Unsilencing Sexual Assault,"Jan Edgar Langbien, CEO of Genesis Women's Shelter

Jan Langbien will discuss the 1985 founding of Genesis Women's Shelter and its evolution to become a center, which provides emergency shelter, safety and counseling for victims of domestic abuse and their children. 

4 p.m. Joint Session "The Evolution of Women's Rights,"Crista Deluzio, SMU associate professor of history, and Linda Eads, SMU associate provost and associate professor of law

Crista DeLuzio and Linda Eads will discuss the evolution of women's rights from their respective fields of study, history and law.

5:30 Community Awards Reception

6 to 8 p.m. Community Awards Dinner Program

For more information and to register for all or part of the SMU Women's Symposium, visit Cost ranges from $50 for luncheon only to $110 for the day. Registration deadline is Feb. 25, 2015.

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