January 16, 2019

Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Women of the World Festival Founder to Address Graduates

Jude Kelly, British Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), founder of the Women of the World (WOW) festivals and advocate for global gender equality will deliver Notre Dame of Maryland University’s (NDMU) commencement address on Sunday, May 19.

Jude Kelly, British Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), founder of the Women of the World (WOW) festivals and advocate for global gender equality will deliver Notre Dame of Maryland University’s (NDMU) commencement address on Sunday, May 19. In addition, the University will present Kelly with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

“We are excited to welcome Jude Kelly back to Baltimore and as this year’s commencement speaker,” says Marylou Yam, NDMU President. “Jude is a true friend of the University and works tirelessly to promote the advancement of women – from gender equality to financial literacy to promoting diversity and everything in between, Jude’s mission aligns with Notre Dame’s Mission of educating women as leaders that will transform the world.”

Kelly launched the Women of the World festival in London in 2010 to mark the centennial of International Women’s Day. Since then, WOW has become a major global festival that celebrates women and girls and looks at the obstacles they face, where hundreds of women’s stories can be shared, feelings vented, minds influenced and hearts expanded, all while having fun in a safe environment. To date, there have been more than 42 WOW festivals in 23 countries across six continents, including here in Baltimore, at NDMU.

Kelly’s announcement as commencement speaker comes at a time when women are at the forefront in the United States, having recently sworn in the largest group of women in the history of the U.S. Congress. It is also a time when the #MeToo movement continues to have an impact on gender equality.

Jude Kelly being interviewed in Noyes Alumnae House
Jude Kelly is interviewed in Noyes Alumnae House during WOW 2016

“A seismic change in global women’s affairs is coming about and everyone needs to be part of building a new gender equal world. Notre Dame has a history of being part of such change and  I am excited to share that message with more and more people at Notre Dame’s commencement,” says Kelly. “NDMU’s students are making a difference and they are the future. I have seen this first-hand through the WOW festivals that have been on campus, these students are going to do amazing things.”

Already an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Kelly was appointed CBE in 2015 for services to the arts. The CBE is one of five distinctions within the British Order of chivalry that rewards contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public service outside of civil service. In addition to this honor, Kelly has received 17 honorary doctorates in recognition of her work around cultural access. She was also bestowed the title of Knighthood of the Order of Dannebrog by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Notre Dame’s 124thCommencement is set for Sunday, May 19, at 10:30 a.m. at the Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore. For more information on the event and to keep up to date on the day’s schedule, check out the Commencement website.