Finally, a conference about Women and the Issues, not “Women’s Issues”

On September 17, 150 women met in Indianapolis and spent the day talking with scholars and women from around the country about free-market solutions to the issues facing our country at the  “Women’s Influence & Liberty Conference.”  Women came from as far as California, Texas, Virginia/DC and Connecticut, as well as the Midwest, to tackle issues such as healthcare, taxes, trade, regulation, free enterprise, poverty and education.

“This was so unique – in all my years of planning conferences I’ve never seen a conference where roomfuls of women come together to discuss real issues” said Jennifer Thompson of the Center for the Study of Liberty , who led the planning of the event along with Sylvie Legere of The Policy Circle, which co-sponsored the event.


Ice sculpture celebrating the conference at the networking reception.

The conference was structured like a Policy Circle meeting with social time — in this case lunch with Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine and Fox News  — followed by smaller group sessions moderated by experts where participants dove into topics for discussion, having read materials ahead of time.  The group reconvened to hear recaps of the breakout sessions from the moderators and then moved on to a networking reception.

Policy Circle co-founder Angela Braly opened the conference remarking to participants “We want to offer you the opportunity to connect with other women, learn from each other and become confident and ready to engage in public policy.  We know you have the power to be even more influential in your community and we’re so excited to be a part of your journey.”

Participants included women from a variety of backgrounds including healthcare, consulting, finance, retail, shipping, authors, small business owners, non profits, education, federal, state and local government and even students from Ivy Tech.   One young Ivy Tech woman remarked “It was such an honor to sit and listen and learn from women who have such experience.  It really helps me as I form my own views.”


Policy Circle Co-founders Kathy Hubbard, Sylvie Legere, and Angela Braly with Jennifer Thompson of The Center for Study of Liberty (middle) and guest speaker Nina Easton (middle right).

Deb Waszak, who came from the Chicago area, noted “The Women’s Influence and Liberty Conference elevated the discussion about substantive public policy issues that impact everyone.  It was inspiring; there is power in being connected to like-minded women and that’s why I am excited to join and eager start a Circle in my area.”

During the remarks from moderators, a consistent theme was how valuable they found the contributions from the participants and how the format encouraged that – they learned from the women they were moderating.   Another consistent theme was the power of free enterprise.  “Free enterprise wins every time when you are talking about progress versus perfection” said scholar Jennifer Dirmeyer, PhD, one of the session moderators.

Special thanks was noted to Charlotte Lippert and Deborah Pickett, Policy Circle Leaders from Indiana who helped tremendously with the planning of the event.

So will there be an event next year?  Based on the energy in the room, it’s quite likely.  In an effort to continuously improve all Policy Circle offerings, participants were invited to text “POLICY” to a number to complete a survey about the event.  Stay tuned for information on next year’s program!

For a link to the program, including a moderators list and form to fill out for future programs, click here.