2015 Commencement - Update

April 06, 2015

A message from President Helen Drinan

I am writing to let you know that social justice advocate and author Michelle Alexander will not be able to join us at the 2015 Commencement celebration due to an unexpected personal, family situation. 

While we are disappointed that Ms. Alexander cannot attend, I am very pleased to announce that filmmaker and activist Abigail Disney has agreed to be the speaker for the morning undergraduate ceremony at 9:30 a.m.; literary critic Deborah Porter ‘01GS will be the speaker for the afternoon master’s and doctoral ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Ms. Disney and Ms. Porter both exemplify the Simmons College tradition of women’s leadership and success. Their work embodies the message of empowerment and excellence that we want to impart to our students.

For more information about Commencement 2015, please visit the Commencement website.


Abigail Disney

Abigail Disney has devoted her life to amplifying the voices of women fighting for peace in war-torn countries, and highlighting the key role women play in modern warfare. Her first film, the acclaimed documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell, tells the inspirational story of Liberian women who came together to end their country’s brutal civil war. The film won Best Documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and went on to be viewed across the United States at community screenings, in theaters, on public television, and later in 60 countries around the world. The film is broadly credited with helping its lead figure, Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading the peace movement that helped bring about the end of the civil war in her country, be named a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011.

Deborah Porter

Deborah Porter has enriched the city of Boston through her love of literature and her generosity in sharing this with others. A Simmons College alumna, she is the founder and executive director of the Boston Book Festival, the largest public literary event in New England. The first festival—held in 2009—drew more than 10,000 attendees; it has since doubled in size with 25,000 attendees and more than 100 presenters annually including Pulitzer Prize-winning authors from around the world. Porter served as a judge for the 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Artist Fellowships review in Fiction/Creative Nonfiction and was on the advisory committee for Boston Magazine’s "Power of Ideas" issue. She has reviewed books for Kirkus Reviews, WBUR online, Ruminator Review, the Harvard Review, and the Horn Book.