Former First Lady Michelle Obama participates in conversation at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Last night, an audience of more than 12,000 people at Bankers Life Fieldhouse listened to “A Moderated Conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama,” presented by Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, a special interest fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation. The conversation was sponsored by Cindy Simon Skjodt, Derica Rice and Robin Nelson-Rice, and Deborah Joy Simon.

During the conversation, moderated by Alecia DeCoudreaux, founding board member of Women’s Fund, Mrs. Obama told the thousands of women and girls in the room that increasing self-confidence takes practice, hard work and perseverance—but the most important value to remember, she said, is to be authentic. She encouraged the audience to speak up and advocate for themselves, and others. The conversation ended with Mrs. Obama calling on the audience to participate in public service, and to show others kindness, empathy and generosity.

Mrs. Obama also commented on the importance of changing the conversation about mental health, an issue that Women’s Fund has supported since 2017 through the Campaign to Change Direction.

Women’s Fund worked with service organizations to distribute free event tickets to women and girls who may not otherwise have been able to attend. Tickets were awarded to Alternatives, Coburn Place Safe Haven, Concord Neighborhood Center, Craine House, Dress for Success, Edna Martin Christian Center, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Girls Inc. of Shelby and Johnson counties, Guidance Life-Skill and Mentoring (G.L.A.M.), Goodwill’s Excel Centers and Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, Hawthorne Community Center, La Plaza, Seeds of Hope Inc. and The Villages. Additional tickets were provided for students attending Indianapolis Public Schools, Ivy Tech, IUPUI and Martin University.

Jennifer Pope Baker, executive director of Women’s Fund, said hosting the former first lady was an incredible opportunity and called the event “inspiring and empowering.” She told the audience that tonight’s event will help the organization put $1 million worth of powerful and thought-provoking opportunities for women and girls into the Indianapolis community.

Women’s Fund will host its annual Power of Women’s Fund Philanthropy event on Oct. 3, 2018, at The Indiana Roof Ballroom. The annual celebration will feature keynote speaker Liz Murray, the New York Times best-selling author of “Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard,” about how she overcame poverty, homelessness and parental addiction to become a Harvard graduate.

Tickets will go on sale in April for Power of Women’s Fund Philanthropy. For more information, visit

Photo credit: Photography by Daniel Arthur Jacobson

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