Meet Sue Russell, a member of OPTIONS Class 10 and Marketing Executive/Entrepreneur.

How did you get involved in Women’s Fund?

In 2010, I was fortunate to be part of Women’s Fund OPTIONS Class 10. As a newcomer to Indianapolis, the OPTIONS program allowed me to learn about and visit a diverse group of local philanthropic organizations serving underprivileged women and girls. I became engrossed in the barriers this segment of our community faced in order to achieve economic stability. As I witnessed Women’s Fund alliances with these groups, I was compelled to become actively involved. I was so enamored, that after OPTIONS, I pursued a position on the Women’s Fund Advisory Board, which I held from 2012-2017.

What do you look forward to as Women’s Fund moves into the Future?

Women’s Fund continues to impress me with its ability to tackle such a wide variety of issues that impact the needs of women and girls. I look forward to watching the strong leadership and dedication of its volunteers continue to expand these efforts.

Are there any areas of support of women and girls in our community that particularly interest you?

The mental health needs of underappreciated women and girls in our community is of particular interest to me. I would like to take an active role going forward in continuing to strengthen Women’s Fund involvement in the national Campaign to Change Direction. This campaign’s goal is to help every adult learn the five signs of emotional suffering and what to do if they recognize any of these indicators of emotional pain in themselves or someone else.

The Campaign to Change Direction in Indiana began with Women’s Fund awarding a $750,000 grant to Asante Children’s Theater to create therapeutic theater programs to combat mental health issues of girls 8-18. In addition, this program offers mental health support from IUPUI and Community North.

What organizations that serve our community have you learned about through Women’s Fund or the work we do?

Women’s Fund has exposed me to incredible organizations including: Dove Recovery House for Women, Indiana Women’s Prison, The Julian Center, Girls Inc., Wheeler Mission, Dress for Success, Hawthorne Community Center – to name a few. The commonality of these organizations is they instill Women’s Fund mission of 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.

What do you wish more people knew about the Women’s Fund and the work we do?

Many of us take for granted how fortunate we are in our everyday lives. Before joining Women’s Fund, I was unaware that in order to live above the poverty line, a single mother in Indiana needs to earn $46,788 and this number rises dramatically every year. Currently, as we witness a shortage of workers, and employers raising wages, we still overlook the additional expenses that prevent people to earn enough to provide for necessities. These barriers include lack of or high transportation costs, child-care, healthcare and many others. Women’s Fund is cognizant of these issues and spends a a significant amount of time strategizing ways to improve these situations.

Women’s Fund recognizes the importance of philanthropy, and in addition to raising money and giving grants, it also offers educational programs to the next generation, so Indianapolis can continue and grow our collective power of giving back, so we can continuously work to find solutions.