Lateefah Simon to deliver keynote at SFSU commencement 

Lateefah Simon, the 33-year-old executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, recently made O magazine’s Power Women list and is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at San Francisco State University’s commencement Saturday.

At 19, you were one of the nation’s youngest leaders of a social services agency. To what do you attribute your early success? I think I’m just lucky. It’s not that I’m special. I’ve been really, really mentored and supported. I come from a family of activists. I’m really committed to every square inch of this city.

Have you graduated college yet? I plan on completing my degree [at Mills College] at the end of the year. Really, I’ll be in school for the rest of my life. As long as I’m committed to San Francisco, I’ll keep learning.

What advice do you have for the graduates? I’ll take a quote from a mentor of mine: “We can’t just throw our hands up in the air, we have to roll up our sleeves and change it.”

What have you planned for the SFSU commencement speech? We’ve been collecting [the students’] stories over the past week. Their stories alone inspired me to write this speech. They are our teachers. I’m hoping that their families and partners and children will, from my talk, essentially just hear the greatness and brilliance that is coming from their own people.

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