Badassery Life is a podcast about ordinary women doing extraordinary things. Women willing to share their stories - whether they are filled with heartbreak or amazing accomplishments. These inspiring women include social activists, moms, entrepreneurs, athletes, survivors, mentors, and more. Each has a unique and beautiful story about how they are living out their Badassery Life!
"An electrical fire took her son. An arson expert took her freedom." Kristine spent 17+ years behind bars after being arrested and charged with setting a fire that claimed the life of her three-year-old son. In 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned her conviction after lawyers argued that arson evidence was wrong and key documents had been withheld from the defense before trial. Kristine was set free — 17 years, one month, and 16 days after her wrongful arrest. Today, Kristine is the co-founder of the nonprofit Justis4Justus, supporting exonerees as they transition back into society after wrongful conviction.
Kristine talked with us about that tragic day that she lost her son - and ultimately her life. She talked about the trial, her experience in prison, her family, fighting for justice, and the work she's doing with Justis4Justus. She's living her badassery life working to ensure that nobody else goes through what she did and that her 17 years in prison isn't wasted.
Michele knows firsthand about INVISIBLE WOUNDS and how it can affect the individual and their loved ones. She’s the mother of 2 Veterans: a US Marine Combat Veteran and a US Navy Sailor. She’s also the daughter of a deceased Retired US Air Force LT. COL. Since 2017, Michele has been traveling the country in an RV raising awareness of PTSD, Suicide and Mental health in our military heroes. It’s part of a program called "Operation 22 to ZERO.” -- 22 veterans die by suicide every day. Michele uses the RV as place for veterans to talk out their feelings. She shares the message "Never Give Up Hope or Faith" with Military, Veterans and First Responders.
She started the nonprofit National Veterans Resources, is the CEO of a company called Heroes Home Advantage, runs a Real Estate business, and does it all - and more - from the road. She talks about what a typical week looks like, why this work is so important, and how people can get involved. Michele Ladd is an "RV hero gypsy" and a true badass!
To learn more about Michele and her work, visit https://nationalveteranresources.com/
This badass adventurous woman traveled to Alaska in 2017 to watch the famous Iditarod sled dog race, then returned as a volunteer at the Iditarod Ceremonial Start in 2018, and ultimately as a sled dog handler and trainer in 2019 - which is what she's doing now. The Iditarod is nearly 1,000 miles of dog sled racing in brutal conditions along a trail that takes mushers from Anchorage over mountain ranges and flat tundra to the western coast of Alaska, and finally to a town called Nome. Sherri explains that mushing and working with sled dogs is "strenuous, rewarding, fun, exhausting, dirty, peaceful, and so much more complex than what people see depicted in a photograph or video."
Sherri DeCoursey graduated from Purdue University with a TRIPLE MAJOR in English and writing, has worked as a writer, editor, and corporate marketer before she completely (and literally) switched gears to start racing go-karts before moving to faster, more powerful cars with roll cages after an accident left her with broken bones, second degree burns and a concussion. She was the first Executive Director of Indiana’s ovarian cancer non-profit, was the assistant Executive Director of a service dog non-profit that trained dogs inside Indiana prisons, got her yoga teacher certification and taught yoga around central Indiana, became a rep for Southern Living at Home in-home parties, and has traveled extensively to places like Thailand, Sweden, Central America, the UK, and Europe. Today you'll find her in Alaska working for mushers at their dog kennels training for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Sherri DeCoursey is definitely living a badassery life!
Malina Simone Jeffers (Mali) was called an Oreo growing up (black on the outside, white on the inside). Today, she's called a cultural architect, creative placemaker, community builder, artist advocate, and has even been referred to as “the unsegregator” by the Indianapolis Star because of her tireless work in diversity and racial equity. She talks with us about growing up in white schools and neighborhoods, her career path, spearheading the effort to have local Black artists create a Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Indianapolis, and her most recent endeavor: the creation of GANGGANG, an Indianapolis-based art incubator for artists of color. She's a badass working to challenge personal perspectives towards more equitable thinking.
This badass woman is a wife, hands-on mother of 4 boys, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, speaker, podcast host, and an avid reader (in the last five years she’s read over 250 books). She’s building her own company helping serve overwhelmed moms, while homeschooling her four sons. But it hasn’t always been easy. She’s been through a divorce and bankruptcy, yet she’s overcome them and come out of it with a life she loves.
Amber packed up her family and traveled across the U.S. for 16 months; 57 cities while her son performed in the Broadway musical School of Rock: The Musical. During that time she wrote the book Stretchmarks - an inspiring and funny book for moms, filled with practical parenting tips and tools. We talked about both experiences, her greatest challenges and successes, and what matters most and brings her joy.
The two women behind Two Chicks Whisky talk about falling in love and getting married, their blended family, and how they went from baking desserts for school events to a food truck to a successful bakery, despite having any formal culinary or baking experience at all. Before the bakery, Paige was a bus driver in Avon; Rhonda continues to work full-time as a probation officer. They talk about overcoming challenges (including being a same-sex couple in a small town) to become successful bakers and business owners. We learned about their name and the secret behind their delicious recipes (and yes, some of their desserts are made with whiskey). Their mantra is: “Never give up on your dream, even if it's not always perfectly planned”. They don’t want the title of being the biggest name in desserts, but to be the best. Based on our interview, we think they're not only the best - but the most badass!
“I want to tell the stories of Black women and girls, and deliver the truth to all those folks who got us twisted—tangled up in racist and sexist lies. I want my writing to advocate for my sisters. We are better than alright. We are amazing.” Tamara is an author and writer who specializes in the ever-evolving space where current events, politics, and pop culture intersect with race and gender. We talked with Tamara about all of those things, and more.
Tamara is also the Vice President of Community Leadership and Effective Philanthropy at Central Indiana Community Foundation, where she is creating social impact by leading on critical community issues. We talked about that too.
Did you know that human trafficking earns global profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, and that behind drugs, trafficking is the second most profitable organized crime in the world AND the average age a victim enters trafficking is 12 to 14 years old. Kellie Leeper is doing something about it! She's the Director of Communications & Development for Ascent 121, a nonprofit that provides advocacy and recovery services for Indiana teen survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation. She joined us to talk about her work and the work of Ascent 121, what listeners should know about trafficking, what signals and signs we should be aware of, and more. On a personal note, she talks about the importance of self-care, especially for women.
In 1988, Susie and her seven year old daughter were kidnapped and held hostage in the trunk of her car. Her husband was a prominent bank executive and was the target of a bank robbery. They survived, but Susie suffered PTSD. She lost her career, her home, and ultimately her sense of safety and security. In her memoir "Getting to Forgiveness - What a Near-Death Experience Can Teach Us About Loss, Resilience, and Love", Susie talks about how she was able to deal with her near death experience. We talked to her about that frightful day, the death of her daughter from Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, her life today, and the work she is doing to help other women through the Work-Life Balance Institute for Women.
Susie overcame two terrible tragedies, yet found a way to not only survive, but thrive. Today, she is a successful author, hypnotherapist, meditation teacher, reiki master/teacher, transformational leader, nondenominational pastoral counselor, and change agent. Susie Levan is definitely living a badassery life!
This badass woman leads the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, where she oversees a staff of 13 professional planners and an annual distribution of $47 million for transportation projects in an area that encompasses 1,520 square miles and includes eight counties and 27 cities and towns. That’s pretty badass! She describes herself as determined, dependable, and practical; while others may describe her as impartial, reliable and persistent. We talked with Anna about her career (and being in a pretty male-dominated industry), mentors, things that matter most to her, and advice she has for other women.
Ambre is the creator of Ambre Blends, a natural fragrance line she started in her basement before growing it into an international success. She's a driven and successful business owner, a mentor, a civic leader, a spiritual healer, a devoted friend and a true badass. She stays connected to things that feed her soul and helps her be creative. She talks with us about starting her business, how their fragrances are developed, giving back to the community, family life, and her '77 pinto.
In this episode, we talked with KJ about her badass radio career, her work at the Make-A-Wish Foundation (where she has granted over 300 wishes), her podcast: The Kinda Nerdy GIrls, and her work as the Kitty Correspondent for Pet Pals TV. She's the second oldest of nine kids who grew up working on a farm, helped run a restaurant, and survived a house fire - all before she could drive. KJ talks about the most out-of-the ordinary/weird things she's done, her passion for pets (she has 4 rescue cats and 5 fosters who have a following of their own on Instagram at @kjscats., and raising money for causes she cares about. Today, she's living a badassery life because, as she said, “an ordinary life never presented itself as an option”. Did we mention she’s also a licensed real estate broker and a second level Reiki practitioner.
Stevi is a loving caregiver to her 103-year-old mother (technically her grandmother) – the hardest, most important and remarkable job she’s ever had. She’s living her badassery life as a confident woman who knows who she is and why she’s here: “to build community and protect animals”! She’s a badass biker babe who started a biker club for women, a devoted animal lover who has four special needs dogs of her own, and the co-host of the Badassery Life podcast who allowed us to turn the mics on her for this special episode.
Amber grew up in Decatur, Indiana, graduated from Purdue University, then went on to do amazing social work. Some who know her have called her a saint for the work she's doing, to which she responds "there are two requirements for sainthood: being dead and being in Heaven and I'm not either". Rose founded PeaceCycle, a small startup business that gives employment opportunities to Haitians. She talks about her journey in creating PeaceCycle (she admits to being naïve) , the challenges of living in - and starting a business in Haiti (including being robbed), and the process of transforming a 4-ounce water bag into a treasure rather than trash. Amber is an incredibly gifted social activist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a true badass!
Learn more at peacecycle.com
In this episode the Badassery Life team decided to talk about the things going on in their lives. Stevi talked about caring for her 102-year-old mom, Kelly talked about a few new podcasts she's producing, and Ginny talked about her recent trip to Disney World - and all three talked about the upcoming holidays and whatever else was on their mind.
DeAndra Dycus feels vulnerable every time she hears about another shooting in our city. She admits it's tough navigating through so much grief. Her son, DeAndre, fell victim to gun violence at the age of 13. He was at a birthday party when a fight broke out and a gun was fired. 20 bullets were shot into the house. One bullet hit one person – Dre. That one bullet – a bullet that shattered her son’s skull – permanently altered the course of his life and DeAndra's life.
This episode tells a story of the incredible love a mother has for her son – a love so strong that when doctors advised her to remove her son from life support he opened his eyes. At that moment, she believed he was telling her to fight for him. DeAndra wants people to know that her tears and her sincerity are real - yet her fight comes with a cost. Hear more about that fight and how DeAndra is living her badassery life despite the most horrific tragedy.
This badass woman is a two-time cancer survivor, a wife (to a husband who is currently living with cancer), a mom with three kids, the founder of Joy's House - a nonprofit in Indianapolis that provides adult day service and caregiver support for adults living with life-altering diagnoses and their families who care for them. She's also the only badass women we’ve interviewed who raises chickens and goats on top of everything else she has going on in her life. Tina McIntosh describes herself as a Christian, resilient and authentic.
We talked about starting a nonprofit, the role of a caregiver, fighting cancer, writing her first book, "Embracing Balance", (she's looking for a publisher), and what brings her the most joy.
Marisa handles investigations relating to social services and welfare issues, including child abuse and neglect, poverty, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and access to mental health services. While at the Indianapolis Star, she was among the investigative team that exposed officials at USA Gymnastics and their team doctor, Larry Nassar, in what turned out to be the largest sexual abuse scandal in sports. That award-winning investigation led to the documentary film, “Athlete A,” which was recently released on Netflix.
Marisa talked to us about her love of writing, mentors who have made a difference in her life, righting wrongs, and staying caffeinated in order to educate, inform, and entertain the public with accurate information. She’s passionate about the truth, sharing the truth with the public, and improving the lives of the communities she serves as a journalist.
Sara describes herself as an ever-evolving badass female, communicator, writer, reader, motivator, fitness trainer, adrenaline junkie, explorer, sister, daughter, wife, and friend. She is constantly pursuing opportunities to make the world a better place and has a deep passion for storytelling. She's a guest blogger and social media host for Fittest Travel, and the host of her own podcast, Facing Fear with Sara, where she features individuals who are living unapologetically authentic lives and defining success on their own terms.
Sara shared her top tips for facing fear, what makes her happy, why we should live unapologetically lives (she believes women apologize too much and life is too short for that), and why we should own our badassery lives.
Saundra Mitchell is the author of nearly twenty books for tweens and teens. For twenty years, she was the head screenwriter and an executive producer with Dreaming Tree Films on their various teen filmmaking programs. Saundra's latest book, "All the Things We Do in the Dark", is on the shortlist for the Indiana Authors Awards (winner to be announced Sept. 1). But before becoming a successful author, advocate, and mom, she overcome incredible grief, pain and anguish. Saundra grew up poor, was sexually assaulted by a stranger when she was 7, she was physically assaulted by both her first boyfriend and girlfriend (not at the same time), her younger brother died by suicide when she was 16, she was kicked out of the Army for being queer, got pregnant and married young, AND spent a brief time homeless. But Saundra says she has a lot of spite. She's determined to keep going no matter how many times she gets kicked in the face. As she shared with us, "she still has MF-ers to prove wrong!".
She talked with us about some of her personal experiences and how they are portrayed in her new book, how she got started as an author, how therapy and writing is helping her deal with her own pain, and what the future holds. After listening to her interview, we think you'll agree that Saundra Mitchell is a real badass!
When we asked this badass woman what, if any, challenges she faced, she said: "I'm a black woman in Indianapolis, where do I start?". We decided to start by asking her more questions. In this episode we talk with Jill English about racism, the disproportionality in the child welfare system, investing in change, addressing systemic racism, being vulnerable, and having difficult and uncomfortable conversations. Jill English has worked in child welfare for more than two decades and although her roles have changed over the years, her mission has remained steadfast - she has always been motivated by the kids and that drives her work each and every day. Jill is the Director of Interrupting Racism for Children at Child Advocates.
This badass woman is a powerhouse business trailblazer and a leader in bringing farm-to-table dining to Indianapolis. She opened her first Indianapolis restaurant in 1989. She’s a former sex crimes prosecutor who has a lifelong passion for food – a passion that has led to a successful collection of establishments. She’s known as a tireless worker, a charismatic host and speaker, and an impassioned feminist and believer in “female capital.”
We talked with her about growing up, the importance of family and food, her former career as a sex crimes prosecutor, her restaurants, and the Patachou Foundation - including the incredible work they're doing to serve 1000+ meals a week to food-insecure children. Martha shared with us what matters most to her, what brings her joy, and the three words that she thinks best describe her.
Lindsay launched her debut book - the first book in spirituality and self-development with F*** in the title. She wrote it for rockers in mind, but in this 224-page memoir and personal development book, Lindsay shares her personal experiences with bullying and abuse, the celebrations of living a creative life, and wisdom learned along the way. She talks with us about how her book, how her spider tattoo got her into the band Cold (she's the bassist), cancelled tours because of the pandemic, being a mom on the road, starting the nonprofit Girls Rock Indianapolis, and how she got into making candles - including a Cold candle and candles for Mötley Crüe. Lindsay is definitely badass!
Lizbeth Ayala Najera is living out her badassery life as someone who has made an incredible transformation – mentally, physically and emotionally. She endured a divorce, alcoholism, deep depression resulting in a dramatic weight gain, and a suicide attempt before she found the strength to become a fierce bodybuilding competitor and entrepreneur with her own workout apparel line (LizKari LLC). She is also an author (“Our One Miracle”, which she co-authored with her twin sister). We talked to Lizbeth and her sister about family, pain, passions, and about being advocates of depression and suicide prevention. We also had a good laugh about cheat (or s---) days!
Justin Phillips is the Founder and Executive Director of Overdose Lifeline, Inc. – an Indianapolis-based nonprofit she founded in 2014 to help prevent opioid deaths and reduce the stigma of addiction. She is the mom to Audrey, Bryan and her son, Aaron, who died from an overdose on October 9, 2013. He was 20. She has dedicated her life to Aaron's memory and is working to make a difference so that nobody has to experience what she did. Justin talks with us about her recovery, her son's addiction, stigma and shame, heroin - the drug that killed her son and has fueled her advocacy work - and the nonprofit she created in Aaron's memory.
This episode is co-hosted by Amanda Kingsbury and supported by Indy Maven.
In January 2018, at the age of 18, Jayna posted a beautiful dance shot of herself to Instagram. The picture – and her story – received national attention. That’s because when she started dancing at the age of 5, she was the only boy at her dance studio. Years later, the dance scholarship she received at the Kirov Academy of Ballet was a "male" scholarship, which she lost after coming out. She always knew she was meant to be a girl dancing the girl roles. Today, Jayna Ledford is living out her badassery life wearing leotards, tights and pointe shoes. She’s a dance and exercise science major at Montclair State University, is heavily involved with her Filipino culture, and is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Jayna talked with us about her journey as a trans ballerina: her challenges, the support she received from family and friends, the national attention she received when she came out, and her plans for the future.
Amy credits stubbornness, grit, and God for helping rebuild her life that was nearly destroyed by her drug addiction. Today she is sober and working for the Indiana State Division of Mental Health and Addictions as the Bureau Chief. She is an advocate for the "lost voices" and looks for opportunities to reach back and help others. One of her biggest passions is prison ministry. Amy talks to us about overcoming her addiction, getting her life back, and what brings her happiness.
Cassie was living in Columbia, had plans to bike ride across the U.S. and eventually join the Peace Corp - then COVID-19 changed everything. We caught up with her on her travels, the unfortunate timing of COVID-19, and how her journey has completely changed. She talks about her short (but amazing) time in Columbia and the need to get home in the wake of the pandemic. Find out why she chose the word "surrender", what she's doing to find purpose, and how she likens this experience of a cocoon to the butterfly.
DJ Gabby Love talks about wanting to be a DJ at the age of 16 - and how she put that dream on hold to go to college and travel the world as a hair model. Today, she's half of a DJ power couple, turning tables at parties and high profile events around the world. Her success hasn't come without challenges and sadness, including her father's death, a house fire that destroyed everything, and the perceptions (and misperceptions) of being a top female DJ in a male dominated industry. COVID-19 has her spinning records virtually and trying to figure out what's next. Listen to learn more about DJ Gabby Love - including what music she chose when asked to curate the music for Former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Denise talks about how life can throw us curve balls and knock us off our stilettos, but she chooses faith over fear, which is one of the many things that has helped her succeed. We talked about everything from her proudest career moments, being vulnerable, the importance of sisterhood, and her word for the year. She stands in her truth about what she wants her voice to do, what she wants her company to do, and what she represents.
These two badasses love to celebrate happiness - and they make others happy with the best popcorn company on the planet. They were raised by entrepreneurs, have incredibly tight family roots, a love for life, and the gift of connection. They talked with us about their Uncle Kevin, who died from HIV and inspired their philanthropic spirit; their purpose and passion with their popcorn; and the business of hospitality. But things haven't always been so sweet for these successful entrepreneurs - a friend they hired to help build their dream cafe screwed them over and they talked about it for the first time with us. Our conversation with Mandy and Carly was raw, emotional and real! Listen to what's popping with the Just Pop In twins!
Jessica DiSanto talks about being a mom and a PR professional during COVID-19. As Director of Communications for United Way of Central Indiana, we were interested in the $16.5 million Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund and what they're doing to support human services organizations and the individuals and families they serve who are affected by the Coronavirus. She also talks about a four-hour Cross Fit inter-gym competition, skydiving, and keeping our humanity during this time. Stay safe, healthy and kind!
These badass women took a small idea and made it big in just a few short months. They had the audacity to just do it and didn’t ask for permission. As storytellers they saw major gaps in storytelling for women and they created Indy Maven to fill those gaps. Along the way – and throughout their lives – they’ve dealt with hardships, heartbreaks and overcome some incredible challenges to achieve great successes. Indy Maven is a way for these women to take all of the things they wanted to see happen for women in their city from a media and community perspective and bring them to fruition.
This badass woman learned from her mom to "say yes first and figure it out later". With that advice in mind, Jamie became the first pit reporter to cover the Indy 500 - and the first to cover the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same year - and was the first female reporter in X Games history. But being the “first female” isn’t necessarily what drives her. She’s also a dog lover, cake baker and a franchisee (she and her husband own two Jimmy John’s in Las Vegas and Nothing Bundt Cake in Indianapolis). She’s a wife, a busy mom of 2 young kids and 4 rescue dogs. She's also a sideline reporter for America's Top Dog on A&E. But what really makes her happy? Having happiness, joy and balance.
This badass woman is on a mission to make sure others don’t experience the violence she did when her estranged husband beat her, shot and killed their baby, and then turned the gun on himself. She is courageously speaking up and telling her story to make change in domestic violence policies. She feels law enforcement, the Illinois National Guard and the judicial system all let her down – and she’s doing something about that.
This badass woman is living her most badassery life as an award-winning reporter for WTHR - one of Indianapolis’ top news stations. Her passion for storytelling has earned her 7 Emmy Awards, multiple Emmy nominations and recognition by the Society of Professional Journalists. But a few years ago, the news turned in a different direction for Emily when she was attacked in broad daylight and her station covered the story - her story. She talks about that attack and the people who helped chase the man down. She also opens up about her career (including covering the crash of Flight 93 on 9/11), her tribe, her crush on Babyface, and much more.
This badass woman is the publisher and co-owner of Edible Indy. She is the head recipe creator in the Edible Indy Test Kitchen and loves bringing the Midwest comfort food to the table with a fresh and farm-to-table twist. She also is the co-founder of a nonprofit, a wife, mother and an artist wanna be. She dishes the dirt with us in this episode.
This badass woman has been a business owner, president of a non-profit, yoga instructor, social activist, mom to two amazing women, and more. Meet Cassie Stockamp. She talks with us about traveling around the world in search of truths. Truths about herself. Truths about ways to live. Truths about the "other." In the past year, she has had incredible experiences in places like Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, India, Argentina, South Africa, Ecuador and Zambia.
This badass woman is tenacious, determined and passionate – but it took her several decades of living a comfortable life before she set out to live her badassery life! Meet Gail Payne. She is unapologetically pursuing a professional career as a performing artist in New York City. She's all in 110%. She's exposed, vulnerable - and she loves it. Performing makes her feel alive. She shares some career setbacks, emotional heartbreaks and incredible experiences with us AND ends the podcast by sharing her talent with us.
This badass woman has a special gift and ability to create a brave space for people to feel more at ease, to become the best version of themselves, and to spread that feeling within and among others. She does that by being the best, most authentic version of herself! Did we mention she's known as "The Moaner" in The Vagina Monologues?!?
Meet Jenni White. Jenni is living her most badassery life as the founding executive director of Trinity Haven, Indiana’s first and only home for LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability.