Former Essence Magazine Editor to Discuss Visionary Leadership at UM

Susan L. Taylor set for keynote of Women's History Month in Fulton Chapel

Susan L. Taylor, former editor of Essence magazine and founder-CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, will speak March 7 in Fulton Chapel. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, is set to deliver the keynote address for Women’s History Month at the University of Mississippi.

The UM Women’s Empowerment Awards and Reception begins at 6 p.m. March 7 in Fulton Chapel. Taylor plans to discuss “Bold, Visionary Leadership: From the Inside Out.” Seating is free, but tickets must be obtained from the Ole Miss Box Office in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Susan L. Taylor is both inspirational and engaging,” said Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. “Her work with Essence magazine has surely left a lasting legacy for generations to come. Anyone who attends this event will not be disappointed.”

Besides Taylor’s address, several women will be honored for their contributions to campus.

“Through the presentation of the Women’s Inspirational Award, Breakout Award and Phenomenal Woman Award, we will recognize the contributions of women faculty, staff and students who are blazing trails on our own campus,” Mead said.

Taylor’s appearance is co-sponsored by the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement; the Educated, Successful, Talented, Evolving, Empowered and Motivated, or ESTEEM; program; University Lecture Series; departments of Student Housing and Intercollegiate Athletics; Panhellenic Council; National Pan-Hellenic Council; Meek School of Journalism and New Media; Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies; and Career Center.

After 27 years as chief editor of Essence, Taylor left publishing to help build an organization that is devoted to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty among African-Americans. The National CARES Mentoring Movement, which Taylor founded and serves as CEO, is a community transformation crusade dedicated to “changing the predictable futures defined for our young who are struggling along the margins and living with the indignity of poverty,” she said.

At Essence, Taylor also authored the magazine’s most popular column, “In the Spirit,” the first in a mainstream U.S. magazine to champion spiritual growth as a pathway to total well-being and a meaningful life. Under her guidance, the publication’s readership soared to 8 million in the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada, United Kingdom and English-speaking African nations.

The Essence brand expanded into book publishing, broadcasting, eyewear, hosiery and its own fashion catalogue. Taylor also was instrumental in launching of the Essence Music Festival and its famous empowerment seminars.

Founded by Taylor in 2005 as Essence CARES, the National CARES Mentoring Movement is a national mentor-recruitment organization. In 58 U.S. cities, local CARES affiliates recruit, train and deploy caring adults to schools and a wide variety of youth-serving organizations that are desperate for black volunteers to serve as mentors, tutors, reading buddies and role models.

Taylor is the editor of eight books and author of four more: “In the Spirit,” “Lessons in Living,” “Conformation: the Spiritual Wisdom That Shaped Our Lives” and “All About Love.” She is the first and only African-American woman to be recognized by the Magazine Publishers of America with the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, the industry’s highest honor, and the first African-American woman to be inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame.

Her other honors include the NAACP President’s Award.

For more information or for assistance related to a disability, contact the Center for Inclusion & Cross Cultural Engagement at 662-915-1689 or