2018 Commencement Speakers Announced

April 17, 2018

Jacqueline Woodson

Noted Author Jacqueline Woodson and Longtime Nonprofit Leader Joan Wallace-Benjamin to Speak at 2018 Simmons Commencement.

Simmons is proud to announce that nationally decorated author Jacqueline Woodson and former President and CEO of the Home for Little Wanderers and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts Joan Wallace-Benjamin will serve as keynote speakers during its 113th Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 18 at the Blue Hills Pavilion in Boston.

"We are fortunate to welcome two trailblazing women to address our graduates this year, both of whom have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields,” said President Helen Drinan. “Jacqueline Woodson is a prolific author who has become a leading voice for young people struggling with the profound social issues of our time. Joan Wallace-Benjamin has been among Boston’s most effective leaders in the nonprofit sector, bringing hope and opportunity for some of the most vulnerable citizens in the city.” 

Woodson is a prolific, dynamic, and decorated author. To date, she has published 33 books ranging in genre from adult novels, children’s picture books, poetry, and young adult fiction. Woodson’s texts often weave in her personal journey growing up in Greenville, South Carolina until age seven and her subsequent move to Brooklyn, New York. She brings keen insight into issues that impact our lives including race, culture, language, and status. She is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a National Book Award finalist, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner, and an NAACP Image Award winner. She is the Library of Congress’s 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Wallace-Benjamin is a highly respected authority in the field of child and family services. Prior to her retirement this January, for 15 years she led the Home for Little Wanderers as President and CEO, transforming it into a leader in innovative programming for underserved populations. Previously, Wallace-Benjamin served as President and CEO of The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, Director of Operations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and Deputy Director of ABCD Head Start. Her service to the citizens of Massachusetts also includes her selection as Chief of Staff to Governor Deval Patrick.

Both Woodson and Wallace-Benjamin will receive honorary degrees from Simmons.

Read more about Commencement 2018 and follow @SimmonsCollege and #Sims18 on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for live updates from Commencement.


Pictured: Jacqueline Woodson.