On April 2, 2019, several thousand professional women gathered at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center for a day of inspiring speeches and women supporting women. No, it wasn’t a dream. It was the 2019 Simmons Leadership Conference.
Now in its 40th year, the conference continues to break barriers. Among the featured speakers were Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister; Laverne Cox, a transgender person of color who has taken the entertainment industry by storm; and actor, presenter and activist, Jameela Jamil.
Each year, the conference hosts over 4,000 middle and senior level women from companies and organizations globally. Profits from the conference, which is a nonprofit fundraiser, benefit graduate scholarship opportunities for women at Simmons University.
“I’m a black woman, I’m a trans woman, and I’m a woman over 40, so I probably shouldn’t even have a career,” Cox joked, taking the stage for a morning keynote address about overcoming challenges and forging your own path.
To a cheering crowd she proclaimed, “I come to you today a proud, black, transgender woman from a working class background raised by a single mother. I come to you an artist, an actor, a producer, a sister, a daughter. And, I believe it’s important to name the various intersecting components of my multiple identities, because I’m not just one thing. And, neither are you.”
In addition to the big name keynote speakers, breakout sessions featured wisdom from powerhouses like Katherine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon, and Kate Biberdorf Ph.D. (“Kate the Chemist”), an award-winning chemistry instructor and STEM barrier breaker.
The day left women of all backgrounds inspired and ready to forge a path of their own. Looking for your own inspiration? Check out the glass ceiling shatter-ers featured right here in Exhale.