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Polo Reo Tate, author, actor and activist, will present as part of the Cultivating Women Leaders Speaker Series on Wednesday, March 3, 1-2 p.m. The speaker series is a program of the Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) and is aimed at personal and professional development for high school and college students through the mentorship of strong women role models. The event is free and will be presented through Zoom.

“The virtual Cultivating Women Leaders Speaker Series has proven to help attendees gain more personal and professional development knowledge through the guidance of strong, dynamic leaders,” said Jamilia Johnson, WLI director. “We are looking forward to concluding this academic year’s speaker events with Polo Reo Tate. Her genuine personality and spirit will leave all attendees with the confidence to lead and live authentically.”

The series is open to all high school students, parents, teachers, counselors, or other administrators, as well as the Olivet College community. This speaker series is open and welcome to all attendees, regardless of background or gender. Registration is available at https://cwlss3321.eventbrite.com/.

Polo Reo Tate

“The single most beneficial thing that we can do for one another — as leaders, as women, as humans — is to create space, a judgement-free curiosity, in which the person standing before us can be fully seen, heard and felt,” Tate said. “The Women’s Leadership Institute is a brilliant example of creating that very space and cultivating incredible listeners, learners and leaders to exemplify what we need more of in this world. It’s an honor and pleasure to be part of celebrating such a noble mission.”

A Lansing native and the great-great-granddaughter of automotive pioneer Ransom Eli Olds, Tate was eager to accept the challenges that awaited her as she headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy after high school. As a straight-A student and a three-sport varsity athlete in high school, her athletic and academic abilities earned her acceptance to both the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as well as the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following a passion for the Air Force that dated back to her childhood, Tate set off for the Air Force Academy.

Tate was not prepared, however, for the level of harassment or the physical, emotional and sexual abuse from her peers and superiors that greeted her arrival — a horrific personal journey of survival and resilience that Tate unflinchingly chronicles in her memoir, “DEEP DARK BLUE: A Memoir of Survival.” Although Tate’s harrowing experiences at USAFA forced her to leave during her second year in order to survive, thankfully, her story doesn’t end there.

She restarted her college education at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, playing volleyball for the Irish and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in film, television and theater. Today, Tate is an author by soul, actor by trade and artist at heart, working between New York City and Los Angeles. She has performed comedy at companies such as the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Broadway Comedy Club, Reckless Theatre, and the Peoples Improv Theater.

Tate’s compelling, eye-opening odyssey of grace and reclamation, as well as her courageous and positive outlook on life, serves as motivation for women of all ages.

Learn more about the Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute and Cultivating Women Leaders Speaker Series by contacting Jamilia Johnson at 269-749-7667 or jamjohnson@olivetcollege.edu.

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