Our founders, Angela, Kathy and Sylvie, are often asked: “How did you start this?”, “How did you meet?”, and “Why are you ladies doing this?”. Here’s our story…
It all started in Sylvie’s living room in Wilmette
“Fall 2013, I was returning home from an AEI conference. After spending four days, thinking, discussing, learning about policy, I wanted to keep talking about the issues. My passion for policy from my university days was reignited, but I didn’t have many people to talk to outside of my family.
Surely there were other women in my neighborhood who shared my concerns and believe that free-enterprise lifts everyone not bureaucrats. My neighbor Beth said ‘let’s see who we are.’ So with two other women, we created a list and asked a few others to join us.”
We’re onto something: The First Meeting
Fifteen women came to that first meeting. We went around the room and each woman explained why they were there. Each was tired of being silent. Each had something to say. And that’s how the roundtable discussion model was born.
We decided to name ourselves after Rose Friedman, wife of Milton Friedman, and the only one known to win debates with her husband. We agreed for our next meeting to read the first four chapters of their classic book, Free to Choose.
We were 25 women, staying on topic and having a vibrant discussion on freedom and free-enterprise for over 2 hours! Some of us had known each other for 10 years and discovered for the first time we shared the same policy positions.
I was energized by having a real conversation, and amazed that our list grew from 15 to 60 within a few months. We encouraged each other to run for local positions. We got people to pay attention to spending in our town. We connected with our state free-market think tank, the Illinois Policy Institute. We scheduled more meetings.
From a local idea to a national organization
At the next AEI conference, I shared the Rose Friedman story with a few people and that’s how Angela Braly, Kathy Hubbard and I connected. They spoke of similar experiences in Indianapolis: women wanted to learn from fact-based research and discuss the issues with other women.
We surveyed women to find out what type of information or interaction they were looking for to learn more about policy. Was there already a group out there focused on bringing together women around fact-based research to learn about and discuss the issues that face our nation? We didn’t find one. Everyone thought it was a good idea, but it was not their focus, or their models were based on having speakers, not discussions.
In March of 2015, we launched The Policy Circle and its website at the AEI Conference. By June, we had seven circles in Indiana and six in Illinois. Just one year after its launch, The Policy Circle had grown to 20 circles and over 600 members.
Now we are looking for women to start and lead Circles in our neighboring Midwest states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, then in New York, Florida, Connecticut, Virginia, Texas, and Colorado. So join us by:
- Connecting us to women who would be great Circle Leaders in your state
- Supporting us, as we are a 501C3 relying on donation
The Policy Circle’s purpose ultimately is to empower women to become influencers in their local communities and promote policies that foster free-enterprise and the values of freedom and liberty, whether it be in a school district, a village, a state, or at the national level.
The Policy Circle is our legacy to our daughters and to all women as we contribute to restore an open dialogue about policy-making grounded in evidence and facts.
A recognized leader in business, Angela serves on the board of directors of Brookfield Asset Management, Inc., ExxonMobil, Lowe’s, Procter & Gamble and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Angela formerly served as the Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of WellPoint, Inc. (now called Anthem). During Angela’s tenure, WellPoint achieved more than $60 billion in revenue and was the nation’s largest health insurer by membership, with approximately 34 million or 1 in 9 Americans. Anthem operates primarily through its Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states.
Angela has been named many times, once as high as 4th, on the list of most powerful women in both Forbes and Fortune. She is also listed as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare and one of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare.
Her leadership reaches beyond the private sector. Angela is passionate about giving back in ways that will have a lasting and positive impact. She has been a leading supporter and advocate of United Way for over two decades. Angela and her husband call Indiana home and have three children.
Kathryn Hubbard is a cofounder of the Bridges of Understanding Foundation, a non-profit, nonpolitical organization dedicated to fostering better understanding between the United States and the Arab world. The focus of Bridges of Understanding is to support projects, specifically in the areas of education, youth and culture, which create mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the Arab world.
Kathy serves on the Board of Trustees of DePauw University and chaired the Nominations and Trusteeship Committee. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Federation for Children, an organization that promotes school choice and better educational opportunities for all children. Kathy also serves on the Board of the Choice Charitable Trust, a foundation which provides scholarships for low income students to attend private schools In 2006, she was appointed by President George Bush to the J. William Fulbright Board.
In addition to her work in non-profits and in business, Kathy has a long history of political involvement at all levels of government and in political campaigns. Her political activities have included fundraising and political work for numerous state and national political leaders.
Kathy graduated with a B.A. degree from DePauw University. She attended the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland. Kathy is married to Allan B. Hubbard and they reside in Indianapolis, Indiana and have three children.
Sylvie Légère has been actively involved for over 20 years in project management and implementation in both the business and not-for-profit worlds. Someone once told her that we judge a community by its ability to care for its most vulnerable members. Sylvie believes that caring is giving people opportunities to improve their quality of life. Sylvie co-founded Foov Fitness to provide trainers, family members and caregivers a way to connect with people with developmental disabilities to increase their physical activity, and ultimately improve their quality of life.
Sylvie is part of AEI’s National Council. Her participation in policy seminars prompted her and two friends to start a policy discussion group in Wilmette, IL. The group called itself the Rose Friedman Society, and its growth and success became the reason to establish The Policy Circle with Angela and Kathy.
Sylvie holds a Bachelor’s in Commerce with a specialization in Management Information Systems from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Master’s in Computer Science with a specialization in the Learning Sciences from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. Sylvie spent her career at Accenture, TD Ameritrade and JP Morgan Chase; she also has worked on projects with nonprofits such as World Bicycle Relief, Housing Opportunities for Women, and the dZi Foundation. Fluent in French, English and speaking some Spanish, Sylvie is an avid runner and cyclist. Sylvie and her husband, Todd, are co-owners of Higher Gear Bike Shops; they live in Illinois with their three children.