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Connecting Womxn of Color Conference

This year is the tenth anniversary of the conference, and in reflecting on its importance and vitality on our campus, we have made the mindful choice to rename it the Connecting Womxn of Color Conference, using the term “womxn” to emphasize anew our dedication to inclusivity. Commemorating this anniversary, the theme of this year’s conference is “CELEBRAT10N.”  It will be held on 26 October and will feature a keynote speaker, as well as workshop sessions and a commemorative reception. The purpose of these spaces is to dig deeper into themes discussed by the keynote speaker, as well as to be reflection spaces for community building, action, solutions, allyship, and honoring and centering womxn of color at the University of Richmond.  

In addition, the conference will be held in conjunction with our One Book, One Richmond series speaker. One Book, One Richmond is a campus-wide effort that encourages students, faculty, staff, and members of the Richmond community to read and discuss a selected book on a social justice issue. This year’s book selection is When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele, with a forward by Angela Davis. janaya khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Canada and an international ambassador for the Black Lives Matter Network, will give a talk on campus Thursday night, October 25, as well as participate in the Connecting Womxn of Color Conference on Friday.

2018 CWoC Keynote Speaker

Dr. Cecilia E. Suarez

Dr. Cecilia E. Suarez Headshot Dr. Cecilia E. Suarez was born in San Antonio, Texas and raised by two strong women, her mother and grandmother. A proud first-generation college student, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Miami and majored in biology and elementary education. Upon completing her Bachelor's degree, Cecilia enrolled at Miami University of Ohio where she graduated with a Master’s of Science in Education in 2008. In 2014, Cecilia officially became Dr. Suarez and graduated with her PhD from The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Education Policy Studies. Her research focuses on access and equity for students of color in higher education, particularly first-generation students of color. In the Fall of 2016, Dr. Suarez joined the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at The University of Florida as Assistant Professor of Leadership and Intercultural Communication. She also serves as a faculty affiliate for the Center for Latin American Studies, the Education Policy Research Center, and serves as the Director of the Women’s Mentor and Advocacy Program at The University of Florida. She focuses her courses on identity development, ethics, social justice, access and equity, as it relates to leadership, and has also given a TED talk on self-worth and internal validation.

Workshop Leaders 

Following the keynote, Dr. Suarez will serve as one of three workshop leaders, along with the following guests:

janaya khan

janaya khan headshotKnown as ‘Future’ within the Black Lives Matter movement, janaya is a black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist (pronouns: they, them, theirs), staunch Afrofuturist and social-justice educator who presents an enlightening point of view on police brutality and systemic racism. Janaya has been honored with several awards, including the 2015 Bromley Armstrong Humanitarian Award, and has been featured in media outlets, including the Feminist Wire, RaceBaitR, and The Root. Janaya currently serves as executive director of Gender Justice LA, a grassroots multi-racial coalition of transgender people and allies.

Janaya’s eye-opening presentations are underpinned by a deep commitment to social transformation. With compelling narratives, janaya illustrates how individual lives are affected by inequality and rouses audiences to actively seek justice for all.

Mariah Williams

Mariah Williams HeadshotBorn and raised in Harlem, New York, Mariah Williams, ’14, is an urban planner who is dedicated to creating and advocating for spaces for the being of black bodies, specifically, black women and girls, in the built environment. She is the founder of Black Girls Meet Up, a group dedicated to creating spaces for community, empowerment and self-care for black women in and outside the city of Richmond. Her work on black joy, black women, and community has been featured in Next City, Third Wave Urbanism and For Harriet.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Tanesha Dixon at

Photos from Past Conferences