Over 12 years in Social Justice Advocacy & Activism
Aneesah Smith is a Queer, Christian, Cisgender, woman of color who is OUT and proud in all aspects of her life. She is a proud graduate of West Chester University (WCU), obtaining a B.S. in Health Education and M.S. in Counseling/Higher Education. She is a national speaker, activist and social justice educator who inspires those she meets to live OUT loud. Her purpose in life is to use her story to save lives, her passion to raise awareness through education and her privilege to uplift the voices of the oppressed.
She is currently the Director of Diversity Equity & Inclusion at Penn State Abington. Her career experience includes serving for 5 phenomenal years as the Director of LGBTQA Services at her alma mater WCU, Health Educator at Temple university and Peer Mentor Coordinator at Community College of Philadelphia. Her presentations and keynote speeches have been featured at a variety of conferences including; Creating Change, NASPA, Mid Atlantic LGBT Conference and the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. She was also a faculty member for the Campus Pride – Advisor Academy, where she leads a weeklong camp for collegiate advisors who serve LGBTQ students. She just recently served as one of the four elected co-chairs for the National Creating Change Conference on LGBTQ Equality which was held in her home city of Philadelphia.
Additionally Aneesah is a serial Entrepreneur advocating for small and black owned businesses through her brand Black Food & Dessert Expo. She is also the owner of The Kupcake Bar specializing in gourmet cupcakes infused with your favorite adult beverage. When she is not out changing the world, Aneesah enjoys traveling and beach time with wife Surera, nephew Jace, son Avery and puppy KoKo.
Most popular programs
Diversity & Inclusion
Cultivating Campus Climate Considering Intersectionality
Audience: Faculty, Staff, Student & Academic Affairs
For students that fit into multiple marginalized communities, the consequences of unconscious bias can quickly compound – even from well-meaning campus offices and programs. “Intersectionality” a term floating around academia outlines how an individual may face multiple types of overlapping discrimination depending on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, physical ability, class or any other characteristic that might place them in a minority group. Diversity and inclusion work is everyone's job whether you have direct or in direct contact with students.
What if every office on campus examined how this theory can be turned into a framework to better serve students in all of their identities. This workshop will review the theory, as well as the work we do daily and how it can inform our programs & services. We can improve the experiences of marginalized students by working to dismantle interlocking systems of oppression or becoming more truly justice-centered campuses. Let’s help transform the campus climate from the inside out!
Now is Our Time: Creating Change across Difference
Audience: Faculty, Staff & Students
This talk will challenge us ALL to critically self-reflect on our privilege and ally behaviors. To acknowledge the part we each play in improving campus climate and making sustainable change. It will bring to light the isms (racism, heterosexism, sexism, ableism, and others) that exist within our identity groups. How do we work together through our differences while avoiding oppression Olympics? How do we center lived experiences and hold everyone accountable for the “work” that needs to be done? I hope our time together will leave you inspired to do the work within yourselves that will pour out transformative change into this world.
The Privilege to Lead
Audience: Student Leaders
Do you think that it is a privilege to lead? We hope you do, there is so much power in the opportunity to lead and influence people. Thinking about leadership as a process, not a position; this workshop will review important concepts like social justice and intersectionality which should inform our work. The first step includes a reflecting on our own identities, bias and prejudices. Second, we will take an in-depth look at identities that are different from our own and the needs of those communities. Participants will engage in activities that support a transformative model of leadership that recognizes a multiplicity of identities and encourages leaders to develop relationships that meaningfully engage difference. Leaders will leave with a tool they can use to facilitate these conversations with others in their perspective organizations.
Leading Beyond Binaries
Audience: Student Leaders
Binaries leave the structures of our organizations uninviting and degrading to people that don’t fit into these categories. To really embrace diversity and think outside the binary of sex, gender and sexuality you have to expand your knowledge to really understand the concepts, issues and concerns of these communities. This workshop will introduce students to what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, how to use gender neutral pronouns and how to run activities that don’t exclude non-straight folks. Fun and informative icebreakers will get students talking and expanding their knowledge about leading inclusive groups and embracing sexual & gender diversity. We will also discuss strategies to help create and maintain a 'safe space' within groups, teams and organizations. These tools are useful for you as a student leader and future employee.
Although there is a national urgency to get trained, or have these discussions, Racism has always been very real and very important to resist and it will always be. My hope is that my time with your staff, teachers, students or employees will be beneficial but only merely a start to the work that must continue to happen for you to to achieve the long-term journey of diversity, equity and inclusion.
For educators, administrators and students
In our schools this conversation is vital, rather your have racial diversity or not. Let your school help to transform the next generation.
For faculty, staff and students.
Racial Diversity cannot be just a checkbox to increase numbers. Are you ready to actively support, understand and and listen to your students of color? With 15+ years of Higher Ed experience at PWIs, I can help.
For CEOs, VPs, Admins, Employees. and Managers
We know that a diverse team is a productive one. If your employees have a true seat at the table, feel included, listened to and see true action happening to help change the climate.
Let me craft a training for your Corporation or organization!
Research shows greater work ethic from employees who feel valued and understood.
A Look at Implicit Bias and Microaggressions in the Workplace
We must start within before we seek to understand others...
It can be difficult to identify our own implicit biases, or even to admit that we have them. One way that implicit biases can manifest is in the form of microaggressions: subtle verbal or nonverbal insults or denigrating messages communicated toward a marginalized person, often by someone who may be well-intentioned but unaware of the impact their words or actions have on the target. This session can help participants truly unpack the everyday situations at work and beyond to help change the climate for everyone.
Addressing Power & Privilege at Work
It's uncomfortable, but isn't that where true change starts?
In the workplace, privilege means not worrying about day-to-day things. Those of us who are privileged don’t have to think about things like bathroom access, specific holiday time off, rooms to use for nursing, or pay equity. Use your privileged voice in a powerful way to raise others up, too. You can do a lot at your own company. If there aren’t any employee resource groups available, get to work on creating one.
LGBTQ+ ADVOCACY (K-12)
Understanding and Supporting LGBTQ+ Students and Families
The elementary school years offer a wonderful and important opportunity to instill and/or nurture positive attitudes and respect for individual, family and cultural differences, including diversity related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. As educators lead children to new understandings and help them to develop new academic and critical thinking skills, they can also help their students gain and practice important social and emotional skills and develop a sense of shared responsibility for keeping classrooms and school communities safe, respectful and inclusive for all members. (*This program can be adapted for middle and high schools.)
(K-5) In-Service, Part II
Communication Beyond the Binary: Cultivating a Gender Inclusive School
Let’s face it –– students ask a lot of questions, and some are difficult to answer quickly and succinctly. Practicing responses will help to ensure that you are prepared to get your students the answers they need. This session will help educators get the opportunity to develop the consciousness needed to help Exton Elementary become a Gender Inclusive school. Tackling gender at an elementary level will help improve school climates for all in the years to come. Learning to communicate to not only students but to parents will help ease difficult conversations and privacy issues. Lastly, we will utilize books to help with conversations about difference in our classrooms, families and beyond. All students benefit as educators encourage youth to be themselves without limitations based upon gender.
Gender Sexuality Alliance Support
Middle & High School
How are you supporting LGBTQ+ students in your school?
I led Rainbow Connection annual conference for 5 years. The conference hosted over 400 middle and high school students from school in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I also coordinated communication and transportation logistics with over 50 high schools and 30 volunteers.
I have been supporting GSA Advisors for 8+ years now and I can help YOU with formation, retention, programming and finding support in your district.
LGBTQ+ Conferences & Events
Now is our Time: Intersectional Queer Activism
How can we insure that our queer organizations are intersectional? As leaders do we truly understand what ‘Intersectionality’ is? This talk will remind us that in addition to being queer activists we must be social justice activists too, fighting for equity for all. Now more than ever we must place action behind our words and mobilize our communities to create change. It involves seeking to understand things that are challenging, empathizing with people who are not like you, stepping back instead of speaking over others and opening yourself up to a high level of accountability. If you’re doing it right, it should be challenging you, stretching you, and making you uncomfortable. The complexity of being an effective leader in an intersectional queer movement is a discomfort that is meant to inspire change.
Attend Campus Pride
Faculty Advisor Academy (2015-2017)
Campus Pride represents the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network “for” and “by” student leaders. The primary objective of Campus Pride is to develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBTQ and ally students on college campuses across the United States.
Check it out, take students and attend as an advisor.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Faculty/Staff Development Workshop Closing Facilitator
Student Leadership Summit
Leadership Exploration and Diversity Symposium (LEADS) Keynote Speaker
HRC - Time to Thrive Youth Confernce
In Service Diversity & Inclusion Training Facilitator
Creating Change - National LGBTQ Conference
2016 Co-Chair, Philadelphia, PA
Workshop Facilitator 2018
University of Richmond
PRIDE WEEK SPEAKER
Aneesah is a diverse speaker and trainer who looks forward to working with you to create the most effective use of a visit to your organization, campus or school. Fill out the following form to schedule a strategy call with her. Thank you in advance for your time.