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The Womxns's Leadership Summit

The Womxns's Leadership Summit

The "Brave You" summit aims to reflect, embrace, and instill bravery in womxn-centric communities. Our desire is for summit attendees to gain perspective, receive encouragement, and learn tools for fostering bravery in themselves and in others. We hope attendees will leave feeling empowered, inspired, and prepared to translate the weekend’s discussions, workshops, and panels into further conversation and action at Swarthmore and beyond. This weekend is dedicated to going within ourselves and finding our own individual bravery that will inspire each and every one of us to write our own narrative.

In order to foster discussion and meaningful connections, there will be a range of panels, lectures, skill-building workshops, interactive performances, a recognition dinner, a keynote address, and structured and unstructured opportunities to connect, talk with, and learn from one another. The summit is inspired by the Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Summit 2017 (hosted by Cindi Leive ‘88), and has so far been made possible through the generous support of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, the Center for Innovation and Leadership, the Dean’s Division, the Clinton Global Initiative, Hormel-Nguyen Intercultural Center, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development, Women’s Resource Center, and the Office of President Valerie Smith.

CeCe McDonald

Transgender Activist & LGBTQ+ Activist 

CeCe McDonald shares profoundly affecting stories from her life as a trans woman of color and hate crime survivor, while inspiring audiences to stand up for acceptance, justice and equality.

CeCe is a transgender activist and revered icon of the LGBTQ community. She captured international recognition in 2011 after surviving a white supremacist and transphobic attack, later receiving a second-degree manslaughter conviction and serving 19 months in prison simply for defending herself.

She has been profiled in Mother Jones,, and Rolling Stone, the latter praising her as “an LGBT folk hero for her story of survival – and for the price she paid for fighting back.” In 2014, The Advocate included her among its annual "40 Under 40” list. That same year, she received the Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Award by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. She is the subject of the acclaimed documentary, “FREE CeCe,” produced by transgender actress Laverne Cox. Since her release, she has graced stages across the country where she uses storytelling to articulate the personal and political implications of being both black and trans.

As one of the founders of the Black Excellence Collective and Black Excellence Tour, created with best friend Joshua Allen, she fosters important conversations around mass incarceration, sexuality, and violence. With energy and conviction, she highlights the hope she now fights for – that all LGBTQ people can live their lives free of hate and prejudice and confidently pursue their dreams without fear.


Valerie Smith

President of Swarthmore College


Valerie Smith, a distinguished scholar of African-American literature, is the 15th president of Swarthmore College. Smith’s significant priorities at Swarthmore include attracting more low-income and first-generation students, innovating the curriculum, increasing diversity, and strengthening relationships between the College and the region. Under Smith, the College has been a leader in sustainability initiatives such as carbon pricing. She has also led the charge to reimagine numerous spaces on campus and invest in new facilities such as Maxine Frank Singer '52 Hall.

President Smith began her career in higher education in 1980 at Princeton. In 1989, she joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), eventually serving as chair of UCLA’s Interdepartmental Program in African-American Studies. She returned to Princeton in 2001 as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and Professor of English and African American Studies. She later served as founding director of the Center for African American Studies and the dean of the college, the position she held before arriving at Swarthmore in 2015.

President Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the Fletcher Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

President Smith is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. She is the author of more than 40 articles and three books on African-American literature, culture, film, and photography, and is the editor or co-editor of seven volumes.

Smith has served on the boards of Bates College, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the McCarter Theater Center. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Second Nature and Fulbright Canada. Under her leadership, the College is in the midst of a $450 million comprehensive campaign, Changing Lives, Changing the World.

Cecily Bumbray '12 

Artist and Performer 

Known for her sweet soprano, honest lyrics and pure vocals, Cecily brings her own vulnerability to each song, telling her story, and hopes that, at the end, the audience feels vulnerable enough to tell their own stories.

In her hometown of Washington, DC Cecily has opened for award winning jazz and soul artists Gregory Porter and Jose James, R&B stars Johnny Gill, Kenny Lattimore, and Elle Varner, and alternative soul pioneer Bilal. She has played at the legendary Blues Alley and the Apollo Music Cafe, as well as The Kennedy Center, The Hamilton, The Howard Theater, and Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. In 2017, Cecily and her band were invited by the US Embassy to perform in Colombia at the VI Annual Mompox Jazz Festival.

Cecily was selected to be part of the Strathmore Artist-in-Residence class of 2018, a program that honed her performance skills and encouraged genre-defying collaborations. Cecily was also the recipient of a 2018 Project Grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council, which she will use to fund her next studio project.

Cecily released her first full album, entitled Songs of Love and Freedom on May 4th, 2018. The album was named “Best New Soul on Bandcamp” by the Bandcamp editorial team who described the project as “stirringly timeless and modern,” and as a “beautiful, self-reflecting album that emanates deep spirituality.”