Leslie Bailey

The Founding Mothers of Women’s Fund of Central Indiana were concerned that women were not recognized as philanthropists in Central Indiana and that women- and girl-serving organizations in our community did not get the support they deserved. The OPTIONS program was borne of this need. Over the past 20 years, more than 470 women have completed the OPTIONS program, getting smart about critical issues impacting women and girls, and learning to use their work, wealth and wisdom to make ours a community where women and girls can thrive. One of those women is Leslie Bailey, a member of OPTIONS class 22. 

Get to Know More About Leslie Bailey 

The name Leslie Bailey may sound familiar. Leslie is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Indy Maven, and co-founder and CEO of Maven Space. Indy Maven bills itself as “a digital media platform that offers lifestyle content to delight an audience of highly engaged, badass women in the greater Indianapolis area who want to stay informed and be inspired.” Maven Space offers coworking spaces, programming, and an inspiring network to spark women’s professional and personal growth. Leslie has built two strong platforms for women in Central Indiana, but before becoming an entrepreneur focused on supporting women, Leslie was on a different path.   

Like so many people, Leslie, a Detroit native, was lured to the Indianapolis area by racing. “My dad worked in auto racing with Indy cars. He had a series called Indy Lights, so when he was working here, I came down to finish school. I wasn’t planning on staying long.”   

Leslie’s plans changed when she landed her first writing gig out of college: “I started freelancing for Metromix, and then it turned into a column with The Indianapolis Star. I worked as a columnist there for five years. After that, I was a lifestyle editor at Indy Monthly. And then I started Indy Maven in October of 2019.”  

Leslie has her hands full with her businesses, preschool-aged and kindergarten-aged sons and “big slobbery dog.” Even with so much going on, she still wants to have a personal impact on Central Indiana. 

Connecting with Women’s Fund and Exploring OPTIONS 

Leslie knew a little about OPTIONS and Women’s Fund from being plugged into the Indianapolis community, but she always felt like the program was for “…more mature women. I have this thing where I still don’t really think I’m a grownup. And so, I thought that’s a thing that grown ladies do.” Her perspective of OPTIONS changed when one of her team members went through the program. “Jalysa, who is on my team, was in the class last year, and I watched her go through the experience. Then, my friend Danielle also went through OPTIONS and was telling me more about it, too. Hearing other people speak about it changed my impression of it. So, I applied.”  

After being in the program for seven months, Leslie has participated in group discussions, site visits and other learning opportunities. So far, her favorite activity has been visiting Coburn Place Safe Haven, which offers compassionate support and safe housing choices for survivors of domestic violence and their children. Leslie is a former Coburn Place board member and still volunteers her time in the linen pantry. “Going back to Coburn Place in a different capacity made me feel proud. I was able to show my classmates some of the work that I did there as a board member and volunteer.” 

Building Relationships with Classmates 

OPTIONS is not just about learning about philanthropy and helping others, but it is also about building connections and relationships with other women. The program allows class members to spend time with a diverse group of women with various life experiences.  

“We did an exercise early on about power and privilege that Tamara [Winfrey-Harris, Women’s Fund president] led us through. I was able to hear others be vulnerable and share their experiences. And that exercise was a quick way to bond with other women because you rarely get put in a room and share so openly.”  

With three classes left, there are still plenty of adventures in store for the current OPTIONS class. Leslie is most excited about “getting to know the other classes. Alumnae are coming to our next meeting. And I’m really excited about that because I look forward to the opportunity to connect.” Speaking of connecting, Indy Maven and Maven Space are connecting the dots and making some exciting changes. 

Exciting Things Happening with Indy Maven and Maven Space 

Leslie is bringing her two thriving businesses together. Indy Maven and Maven Space are combining forces. “Indy Maven will continue to do the editorial content, and Maven Space will be a brand that will host events and the membership is moving over to Maven Space, which will be the umbrella brand.”  

Even with two businesses undergoing significant changes, Leslie’s story is not too different from other women participating in OPTIONS. We appreciate women who choose to help and invest in women and girls in our Central Indiana communities. 

Upcoming OPTIONS Class 23 

Applications are now open for OPTIONS class 23. Are you interested in learning more about OPTIONS and Women’s Fund? Join us for a virtual informational session on Oct. 17. Attendance at an informational session is not mandatory but encouraged for those new to Women’s Fund and OPTIONS. Learn more about how you can apply for OPTIONS Class 23. 

About Women’s Fund  

At Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, we are dedicated to mobilizing people, ideas and investments, so every woman and girl in our community has an equitable opportunity to reach her full potential – no matter her place, race or identity. We invest in organizations that help women in our focus areas, caregiving, intimate violence, economic empowerment and girls’ programs. Learn more about Women’s Fund.