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Inspiration for the TV show ‘Scandal’s’ Olivia Pope gives keynote during Women's Week. Events continue throughout this week.


Judy Smith, real-life inspiration behind ABC’s “Scandal,” will not be speaking at the University of Utah today due to travel difficulties. More details coming soon. For a full list of Women’s Week events, visit

The University of Utah celebrates Women’s Week March 6-13. This year’s theme, “Consider it Handled” is a famous line from ABC’s TV show, “Scandal.” Judy Smith, a crisis manager and the inspiration for Olivia Pope’s character, will headline the week with a keynote address on March 9 at noon in the Union Ballroom. Events include workshops on leadership, money management, networking and how to be an ally to the transgender community.

“Women’s Week offers a forum for students, faculty and the community at large to have an open dialogue on issues around gender inequality, sexual identity, women in leadership, mentorship and empowerment,” said Susie Porter, director of the U’s Gender Studies program and chair of the Women’s Week committee. “We hope participants will engage in meaningful conversations that will lead to impactful outcomes.”

Most events are free and open to the public, but some require registration and fees. Women’s Week activities at the University of Utah include:

Keynote Address by Judy Smith, “Handle your Scandal: A Conversation with the Real Olivia Pope”
March 9, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Olpin Student Union Building, Ballroom, 200 Central Campus Drive

Judy Smith is the real-life inspiration behind ABC’s hit political thriller series “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington. Smith is the premier crisis management expert in the U.S. In her address, she will draw on her work to discuss issues around gender equality, women in power, public scandals and the inspiration for Olivia Pope’s character. Smith has worked with some of the most historic and sensational events of our time, including the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas, President Clinton’s scandal involving Monica Lewinsky, the Iran Contra investigation, the prosecution of former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, the 1991 Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, the congressional inquiry of Enron and the United Nations’ and World Health Organization’s responses to the SARS epidemic.

Women’s Leadership Summit
March 10, 3-8 p.m.
Olpin Student Union Building, Ballroom, 200 Central Campus Drive

The Women’s Leadership Summit aims for women students to feel more confident as leaders by helping them build valuable skills and support networks. Beth Krensky, associate professor of art education at the U, will give a keynote address on leadership. The program will also include breakout sessions and mentor-led reflection. To register, click here.

Honors College Creative Solutions Mentoring Luncheon
March 11, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Olpin Student Union Building, Saltair Room, 200 Central Campus Drive

Meet local women leaders in business, nonprofit, art, community leadership and activism for small group discussions that will let you identify your passions, facilitate networking and open opportunities. Mentors include Sandi Pershing, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, Office of Engagement and first lady at the U; Gloria Wilkinson, vice president of community relations at Zions Bank; Gretchen Deitrich, executive director of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts; Patricia Jones, Utah State senator; and Lori Field, president of McCann Erickson Group along with 15 other mentors. To register, click here.

Start Smart Workshop
March 11, 3-6 p.m
Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building, Bill & Pat Child Family Community Hall, 1655 Campus Center Drive

This workshop is designed to help women approach the job market with information about how to develop a personal budget to find your salary needs, benchmark salary and benefits and negotiate your first salary out of college or for a promotion. To register, click here.

Social Justice Advocates Discussion: “Nurturing Relationships and Gender Formation”
March 11, 8-9:30 p.m
Peterson Heritage Center, Room 1 A/B, 151 Conor Road

Join the U’s social justice advocates for a highly interactive discussion that challenges gender normalization. The social justice advocates are organized through Housing and Residential Education at the U. They create programs and engage residents in dialogue around subjects ranging from race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, size, ability and a variety of other issues surrounding identity development and interpersonal relationships on campus.

Workshop: “Being an Ally to the Trans Community”
March 12, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Hinckley Institute of Politics, Orson Spencer Hall Room 255, 260 Central Campus Drive

A partnership study between the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that transgender individuals are at high risk for bullying, housing and job discrimination, suicidal tendencies and more. Transgender artist and educator Rebecca Kling will lead this workshop. She will address how to integrate transgender members into a larger community, including appropriate language and definitions, respectful interactions, creating systems of support for transgender individuals and beyond.

Project Performance by Rebecca Kling: “No Gender Left Behind”
March 12, 7-9 p.m.
Marriott Library, Gould Auditorium, 295 S. 1500 East

‪Rebecca Kling is a transgender artist and educator who explores gender and identity through solo performance pieces and educational workshops. Her multidisciplinary performances incorporate conversational storytelling, personal narrative, humor, movement, video projection and more. Kling takes the position that sharing accessible queer narrative with a wide audience is a form of activism and that understanding combats bigotry. Kling will demonstrate “No Gender Left Behind,” a performance contemplating what we teach ourselves and our children about gender conformity.

For more information, visit