IBJNews

2010 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Jennifer Pope Baker

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Executive Director, Women's Fund of Central Indiana

Sphere of Influence: As executive director of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana (a special interest fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation), Baker has awarded grants to dozens of innovative central Indiana programs supporting women and girls.
 

Baker (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

During these tough economic times, Jennifer Pope Baker, executive director of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, has managed an impressive financial trick. Under her tutelage the organization’s endowment has grown from $3 million in 1998 to $11 million at present. That expansion allowed the fund to distribute some $3.2 million via 336 grants to 89 central Indiana organizations serving women and girls.

All this while enduring the same one-two punch delivered to pretty much every other not-for-profit in the state—an increased demand for services just as hard-hit donors grow reticent about shelling out cash. Baker thinks the organization’s youth helped it weather the storm, because the fund hasn’t yet exhausted its pool of potential givers. Plus, there are few people with whom the organization’s mission doesn’t resonate.

“While some donors may be more cautious, others are giving more because of their acute awareness of the growing needs,” said Baker, 43. “We have lots of good stories of success and positive outcomes through our grants and our philanthropy and education programming.”

Two of her most innovative concepts are the OPTIONS and GO programs. OPTIONS takes one class of 20 women between the ages of 25 and 45 each year through a philanthropy education program designed by Baker. The GO program has an even longer timeline. This philanthropy education class for children allows an adult to create a donor-advised fund for any child under 18, to start them on a lifetime of giving.

“In the next 20 or 30 years when today’s GO participants are leaders in the community, I foresee that they will make positive decisions for women and girls without even thinking about it,” Baker said. “They will have a giving plan and feel confident about how they want to participate in the community as a volunteer and as a donor.” Both OPTIONS and GO are being copied nationwide.

She’s also working to make Indianapolis the third community in the country to initiate the micro-lending program Grameen America, an offshoot of a similar concept founded as Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which offers extremely small (at least by traditional standards) loans, mostly to women, to improve their education or found small businesses. Baker hopes that here, just as in Bangladesh, a little cash can go a long way. “This has the power to make multi-generational change,” she said. “Women will be positioned to control their financial destiny and not be dependent on the goodwill of others. I can’t think of a better gift to give to a woman: the ability to create a healthy future for herself and her family.”

Such devotion to family is equally evident in Baker. She and her husband, Chris, have two children, Catherine, 10, and Charlie, 5. She spends her off-duty time with them, riding bikes, walking or visiting The Children’s Museum, where she serves on The Children’s Museum Guild.

“I feel like my personal and professional lives are entwined,” Baker said. “I care deeply about making a difference for women and girls. I hope that my actions and words give others encouragement, hope, and a sense of what is possible in life.”

___

Click here to return to the Women of Influence landing page.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Great article and post scripts by Mike L (Great addition to IBJ BTW). Bobby's stubborn as a mule, and doubt if he ever comes back to IU. But the love he would receive would be enormous. Hope he shows some time, but not counting on it.

  2. When the Indiana GOP was going around the State selling the Voucher bill they were promising people that the vouchers would only be for public charter schools. They lied. As usual.

  3. I am Mr. Morris Ray, a Legitimate And a Reputable money Lender. We lend funds out to individuals in need of financial assistance, we give loan to people that have a bad credit or in need of money to pay bills, to invest on business. Have you been looking for loan? you have not to worry, because you are in the right place i offer loan at low interest rate of 2% so if you are in need of a loan i want you to just contact me via this email Address: morris_ray123@outlook.com

  4. Jim, your "misleading" numbers comment is spot on. This is the spin these posers are putting on it. News flash, fans: these guys lie. They are not publicly traded so no one holds them accountable for anything they say. The TV numbers are so miniscule to begin with any "increase" produces double digit "growth" numbers. It's ridiculous to think that anything these guys have done has awakened the marketplace. What have they done? Consolidate the season so they run more races on consecutive weekends? And this creates "momentum." Is that the same momentum you enjoy when you don't race between August and March? Keep in mind that you are running teams who barely make ends meet ragged over the summer to accomplish this brilliant strategy of avoiding the NFL while you run your season finale at midnight on the East Coast. But I should not obfuscate my own point: any "ratings increase" is exactly what Jim points to - the increased availability of NBC Sports in households. Look fans, I love the sport to but these posers are running it off a cliff. Miles wants to declare victory and then run for Mayor. I could go on and on but bottom line for God's sake don't believe a word they say. Note to Anthony - try doing just a little research instead of reporting what these pretenders say and then offering an "opinion" no more informed than the average fan.

  5. If he's finally planning to do the right thing and resign, why not do it before the election? Waiting until after means what - s special election at tax payer expense? Appointment (by whom?) thus robbing the voters of their chance to choose? Does he accrue some additional financial advantage to waiting, like extra pension payments? What's in it for him? That's the question that needs to be asked.

ADVERTISEMENT