The University of Wyoming’s 22nd annual Shepard Symposium for Social Justice is set to begin this Wednesday, April 11 and the university is welcoming Judy Shepard as the keynote speaker for this year’s event.

Shepard is the mother of UW student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered outside of Laramie during the 1998 fall semester. This October will mark the 20th anniversary of his death.

Shepard will deliver the keynote address for this year’s symposium, the theme of which is “Courageous Conversations,” this Thursday, April 12 at 4 p.m. in the Wyoming Union Center Ballroom, UW says.

Shepard is a leading figure in the LGBTQ rights movement and an author of the best-seller, “The Meaning of Matthew.”

“We are honored to have Judy Shepard return to the University of Wyoming as our keynote speaker,” says Christi Boggs, co-chair of the Shepard symposium, in a statement. “This year marks the 20th memorial of Matthew’s murder, and Judy has been a leader and an inspiration during that time. We simply could not have a more meaningful keynote speaker for this year’s symposium.”

The symposium was started 22 years ago by former UW College of Education faculty members Omowale Akintunde and Margaret Cooney and aims to keep social justice issues in the spotlight. The event was originally was known as "the Symposium for the Eradication of Social Inequality.” The name was later changed to the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice to honor Shepard.

The symposium is scheduled to run Wednesday, April 11 to Saturday, April 14 and will include a number of workshops, talks, and discussions on a diverse set of topics. Most events will take place in the Wyoming Union Center Ballroom. The full schedule can be found here.