Who We Are

Who are our Circle Leaders?  Why do they do it?  Who better to hear from than Circle Leaders themselves.
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Meet One of The First Circle Leaders

Beth F. – Circle Leader from Wilmette, Illinois

Beth - Wilmette, IL

What prompted you to start your Circle?

The last seven years of striking executive overreach in government, a sputtering economy and increasing government encroachment in our lives, for example in the area of healthcare. I was frustrated.

One day my friend Sylvie from down the street and I starting talking about these frustrations and decided to see if other women felt the same way. We gathered a group together and The Rose Friedman Society was born, which would serve as a model for launching The Policy Circle nationally. It was fun and we were excited about the energy around the group.

Had you always been interested in policy discussion?

When my kids were little I always had the news on and I liked to keep current, but I was not an expert on policy. I would talk with my husband but it was hard to find other women to talk to about policy issues – we’re always so polite to each other. And it seemed those that did talk completely disagreed with me. I felt like I had to keep silent or I’d be banned from the playgroup!

I realized how much I wanted to have deeper conversations about what concerned me, not just polite chit chat. I was beginning to doubt if my state would be a good place for my kids to live once they grow up.  (I live in IL which as the second highest property taxes in the nation and a net loss of 100,000 people a year and counting.)  I wanted a way to connect with other women over these issues and do something.

What was your First Circle meeting like? Were you nervous?

No — we had a such a great response to that first invitation that I knew we were on to something. I think we wanted to make sure that everyone would feel heard and have a chance to participate because sometimes groups can be dominated by the more lively characters. The roundtable format we used really ensured everyone had a chance to share her views. The Core Principles also helped define that we were on the same page about general views towards free-markets as well as our “truce” on social issues.

How has being a Circle Leader affected you?

Without question I know more and have more confidence speaking up from participating in Circle meetings. I am much more likely to strike up a conversation with someone now about a certain issue – be it with a friend, family member or my hairdresser. The Policy Briefs we read are well-researched and summarize facts – not opinions — so they equip me with talking points.

I’ve also enjoyed growing my personal network far more broadly than I would have otherwise. Women at our meetings have brought their college age daughters, are mothers of young kids and yet others have grandchildren. We share the same concerns but have a variety of life experiences and can really learn from each other.

What changes have you noticed in other women in your group?

Like me, they have learned to speak up, especially ones who I might have considered quiet at the start. Each meeting someone learns something which is energizing.

We also have had women decide to run for school board, park district board and even Congress. We actually aren’t set up to “groom” people for this — The Policy Circle is a 501c3 and doesn’t do lobbying and is non-partisan — but the women’s interest in public service is exciting and very meaningful.  I think it started with our group.

Do you allow women to come who don’t believe in free-markets?

Everyone who participates agrees to our Core Principles as we want to be a place for women to connect about those ideas. We want to equip women with facts and give them a forum where they can discuss those facts and strengthen their voices.

What else have you liked about being part of The Policy Circle?

I love that my kids notice that I am more active. They are asking more questions and we are having more conversations about what we see in the news. My son asked if he could come with me to vote! I think we need to be mindful of teaching our kids the truth about how they can help our communities and our country once again be a land of opportunity for all by holding true to the principles we were founded upon.

We live in one of the best, most unique countries the world has ever seen. Some have given up on it, but I have not. I think being a Circle Leader has reminded me that we actually can make a difference. A few years ago I wasn’t showing up at local government meetings, but now I am. It’s made a difference in my life and I now am making a difference in my community.

Meet Two of Indiana’s Circle Leaders

Katie G. 

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started a circle.

I grew up on a family farm and live with my husband on our family farm in Indiana.  I started my career in politics then transitioned into the agriculture industry.  I started a Policy Circle in my community because I want women to feel more confident talking about policy issues.  Every issue is a woman’s issue and I want more women to be engaged in the political and policy processes.  

What do you like to do outside of the Policy Circle?

I enjoy world travel, bird hunting, writing my blog, staying connected to my community and engaged with civic and political issues.  

I like mentoring young women and men and helping them connect with various people and industries to help them and our communities succeed.  

What is the best advice you’ve received?

You can do it all, just not all at the same time.

What is advice would you give a prospective Circle member or leader?

Don’t be afraid to invite women you do not know to your Circle and never be afraid to speak up if you have a different opinion!  Our differences are what makes the world go ’round.

What is something that surprised you about being in The Policy Circle?

As the daughter of a confident, involved woman and being one myself, I am still surprised at how many women lack the confidence to speak up about an issue but yet are so passionate.  I hope The Policy Circle will help give them the confidence to engage in the discussion and get more involved!

Clare M. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started a circle.

I was a stay-at-home parent for 18 years after working in public policy in DC and NYC. I continued to be exposed to public policy issues through my husband’s job as head of public affairs for a Fortune 50 company. So why did I get involved? Confluence of things: timing (my children left home so I had more time, or thought I did); desire to be involved in a meaningful way in the community, to better it for myself and others; to find and use my own voice (as opposed to a corporate policy).

What do you like to do outside of the Policy Circle?

Beyond sending care packages to my children and learning other parenting-from-afar skills (face-timing through Walmart was one I’d like to forget) I ride dressage competitively and love to read.

What is the best book you’ve read lately?

Best books I’ve read lately are:  Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving (fiction) and The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes (non-fiction)

What is the best advice you’ve received?

PURSUE your passion, don’t just dabble with it!

What is advice would you give a prospective Circle member or leader?

Be open to all sorts of viewpoints and perspectives – we had a terrific discussion after two new women said, “Based on my (politica)l beliefs, I’m not sure if I belong here.”  We have more in common than you may first think!

What is something that surprised you about being in The Policy Circle?

How willing other women were to engage with me about public policy issues and the concept of the Circle, regardless of their political beliefs.

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