INconversation engages a small, intimate group in interesting, engaging and insightful conversations with some of the nation’s most intriguing thought leaders.


INconversation engages a small, intimate group in interesting, engaging and insightful conversations with some of the nation’s most intriguing thought leaders. This question-and-answer-style discussion involves the thought leader, a moderator and the audience. Videos (when available) and audio of the conversations are provided below.


Inconversation 2020

INconversation with Jean Thompson
On Nov. 10, 2020, we hosted a virtual INconversation with Jean Thompson, the author of The Year We Left Home, Indiana Humanities’ 2020 selection for its One State / One Story statewide read. Barb Shoup, the founding director of the Indiana Writers Center, moderated the conversation about place, identity and writing in the Midwest. Watch a recording of the conversation here

INconversation 2019

INconversation with James and Deborah Fallows
March 18-21 | Muncie, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Angola 

Indiana Humanities and New America Indianapolis hosted James and Deborah Fallows, authors of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, as they shared share stories of community revitalization. The Fallowses,  were joined by a local moderator for a conversation about what thriving towns and cities have in common, who’s trying new ideas that work and how Hoosiers are working through differences to solve local problems. Read 5 things we learned from the Fallows here. 

INconversation 2018

INconversation with Victor LaValle
Oct. 11, 2018| Central Library, Indianapolis Public Library 

We heard from the creator of the Destroyer comics, which reimagine the Frankenstein myth by way of Black Lives Matter.

INconversation with Marc Leeds
April 18, 2018 | Indiana Humanities

Marc Leeds, the editor of The Vonnegut Encyclopedia and longtime correspondent with author Kurt Vonnegut, joined us for a conversation about Vonnegut’s fascination with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This INconversation was moderated by Emily Beckmann of IUPUI’s Medical Humanities program and presented in part with the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Read a recap and watch the talk here. 

INconversation with Julian Castro
March 2, 2018 | University of Indianapolis

Indiana Humanities hosted former HUD Secretary Julian Castro at the “City of Homes” event as part of UIndy’s Fairbanks Symposium and in partnership with the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership. Read 5 things we learned from this Julian Castro here.

INconversation with Jennifer Walthall 
Jan. 24, 2018 | WFYI

The opioid epidemic is the biggest public health challenge Indiana has faced in a generation. Public officials, health care providers, and law enforcement members see up close how it’s ravaging communities across the state. But like any crisis, creative and compassionate people are developing innovative strategies to address the epidemic. One of them is Dr. Jennifer Walthall, Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. Jennifer is leading the charge to use data to target the areas of the state most in need of treatment programs. The eventual goal is not only to more efficiently direct the state’s resources to where people need them most, but also to start to use data to predict where the next outbreak could occur. 

Thanks to WFYI and Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, we were able to record this INconversation.  Read 5 things we learned about big data and opioids here. View the talk here. 

INconversation 2017

INconversation with Jonathan Eller
Oct. 23, 2017 | Ash & Elm Cider Company

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the seven-decade career of writer Ray Bradbury. Today Bradbury’s books, papers and many personal artifacts are housed at IUPUI’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Professor Jonathan Eller, one of the world’s foremost experts on the author, is shepherd of this incredible treasure trove. He joined us for this Quantum Leap INconversation to discuss Bradbury and his legacy, the deep connections between the author and the space program, and the unique role of science fiction in helping us imagine the future.

Thanks to a partnership with Ash & Elm Cider Company, attendees were able to sip a limited-edition cider inspired by Bradbury’s famous dandelion wine recipe. Ray Haberski, Professor of History and Director of American Studies at IUPUI, moderated. Read our recap of the conversation here. 

INconversation with Tracy Fullerton
Aug. 16, 2017 | City Way Gallery curated by iMOCA

We got to peek behind the curtain as world renowned game designer Tracy Fullerton shared how—and why—she turned a 19th-century memoir into a 21st-century digital game. We learned about the delightful challenges of the creation of “Walden, a game”—which included scouring Henry David Thoreau’s original surveys of Walden Pond to create the game’s landscape, to designing a color scheme and soundtrack that subtly cue the players to their success or failure in “living deliberately.” But, most important, together we considered the remarkable possibilities of games and their ability to help us navigate our complicated, ever-changing world. This special INconversation was proudly presented in partnership with GenCon. Special thanks to Sun King Brewing Co. Read a recap of the conversation here.

INconversation with Adrian Matejka
May 25, 2017 | Indy Reads Books

We were proud to host the book launch for Indianapolis native and Pulitzer finalist Adrian Matejka’s newest volume of poetry, Map to the Stars. This cosmic-themed collection traces Matejka’s own journey from Section 8 housing to the suburbs, with a side trip, via the Sounds of Earth project, to the furthest reaches of the universe onboard the Voyager I space probe. In these poems Sun Ra, Richard Pryor and Guion S. Bluford are among the many lights glimmering on the horizon, each a lodestar for navigating the earthly complexities of race, masculinity, poverty and migration. Read a recap of the evening here.

INconversation with Alan Lightman
April 20, 2017 | Butler University

On April 20, more than 100 people joined us for an INconversation with Alan Lightman and Rabbi Sandy Sasso to kick off Indiana Humanities’ new Quantum Leap theme. Colliding the worlds of the humanities with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is the animating idea behind Quantum Leap. So, pairing a rabbi with a physicist seemed like the perfect beginning to our series of programs. And who knew the event would start with “a rabbi and astrophysicist walk into a bar . . .” reference? With topics such as immortality, spirituality, time, physics, creativity and more, it was good to see that our speakers could combine humor with levity and gravity. Special thanks to our partners on this event: the daVinci Pursuit and Butler University’s Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative. Read a recap of the conversation.

INconversation with Justin Garrett Moore
March 3, 2017 | University of Indianapolis

Vibrant greenspaces do more than just make a city look good—they yield huge economic benefit, keep residents healthy, build social cohesion, and improve a region’s ecological health. That’s why today’s most visionary civic leaders are investing in parks, trails and greenspaces. Justin Garrett Moore, Arlington High graduate and current executive director of New York City’s Urban Design Commission, sat down with Neelay Bhatt, an Indianapolis-based parks consultant and board member of the National Recreation and Parks Association, to talk about the myriad ways great parks contribute to dynamic cities. This special INconversation kicked off the half-day Fairbanks Symposium presented by the Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives at University of Indianapolis, Indiana Humanities, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and Indy Parks. Read a recap of what we learned here.

INconversation 2016

INconversation with Doris Kearns Goodwin
Dec. 14, 2016 | Indiana Convention Center

What defines a president’s legacy? What makes a good leader? These are just a few of the questions we had the opportunity to ask preeminent presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin during an intimate conversation in December 2016. The thoughtful dialogue was moderated by Terry Anker, chairman of the Anker Consulting Group, Inc. and president of the Legacy Fund, who framed the conversation so eloquently. Review the five lessons we learned from Goodwin.

INconversation with Jim Madison
December 1, 2016 | WFYI Community Room

To close out our Next Indiana multiyear thematic initiative, we hosted an INconversation with Indiana historian Jim Madison days before our state’s bicentennial. Eric Halvorson, a former anchor for WISH-TV, moderated the candid discussion about what Madison imagines is next for the Hoosier State. The audience also enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at stories from WFYI’s Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana. The two worked on the four-part documentary released earlier this year. Enjoy a recap of what we learned from the event.

INconversation with Terry Tempest Williams
May 4, 2016 | Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art

“What does an old-growth forest offer to the human heart and mind? Science is not set up to answer that question—but art may be.” This observation, by acclaimed Hoosier author Scott Russell Sanders, is at the heart of Next Indiana Campfires. To jump start our thinking on these questions, we invited Terry Tempest Williams, one of the nation’s foremost thinkers about environmental issues, to join us for a special INconversation exploring how writers shaped our comprehension of nature and awakened us to the need to care for it.

Williams, a Guggenheim Fellow and titan of environmental literature, has been called a “citizen” writer for her fierce advocacy of freedom of speech about environmental literature. The conservation was moderated by Sanders, whose own writing about the hills and forests of southern Indiana continues the tradition of essential Hoosier nature writers like Gene Stratton Porter and Edwin Way Teale.

INconversation with Angel Ysaguirre
February 5, 2016 | University of Indianapolis

How do civic leaders use the arts to build vibrant cities? Can cities sustain affordable, healthy arts ecosystems and also realize the full promise of urban renewal—and if so, how? What can Indianapolis learn from places like Chicago or Philadelphia, home of the nation’s oldest percent-for-art program and site of many impactful public art projects that engage residents and visitors alike?

Angel Ysaguirre, executive director of Illinois Humanities, explored the opportunities and tensions that lie at the intersection of the arts and civic leadership with Michael Kaufmann, director of special projects and community investment for the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (Eskenazi Health). This special INconversation kicked off the half-day Fairbanks Symposium presented by the Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives at University of Indianapolis, Indiana Humanities and the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

INconversation 2015

INconversation with Ken Gladish, former president & CEO of Indiana Humanities
November 17, 2015 | Indiana Humanities

As part of our “Humanities Homecoming” for former staff/board members and partners of our organization, we hosted an engaging conversation with Ken Gladish, the former president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. Gladish, now the president and CEO of the Seton Foundations, led Indiana Humanities from 1984-1993. The conversation was moderated by Rosemary Dorsa, former board chair and current board member of Indiana Humanities. Gladish discussed our organization’s history of innovation, his philanthropic journey and the power of the humanities. It was a joy to hear him share his many memories of his time in Indiana! See photos here.

INconversation with NEH Chairman WIlliam Adams
May 15, 2015 | WFYI Community Room

A candid conversation with National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William “Bro” Adams, moderated by The Honorable Randall T. Shepard, former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. The discussion centered on the Chairman’s “Common Good” initiative, which seeks to illuminate how the humanities can deepen our understanding about issues such as citizenship, the environment, changing demographics, war and conflict, biomedical technologies and more. Read a blog post about the event.

INconversation with Nathan Alan Davis
April 9, 2015 | Indiana Humanities

In April, Indiana Humanities hosted an intimate conversation with playwright Nathan Alan Davis (an IU grad), whose play “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea” was featured at the Phoenix Theater. The discussion, moderated by Modupe Labode, IUPUI’s Public Scholar of African American History and Museum Studies, centered around themes of memory, identity, African-American history, and the different ways we understand these ideas–through history, through theater and art, through material culture and family stories. Read all about it.

INconversation with Oliver Luck
March 23, 2015 | Lucas Oil Stadium

In the week leading up to the Final Four in Indy, we hosted a conversation with Oliver Luck — the new VP of regulatory affairs at the NCAA. Moderated by WISH-TV sports anchor Anthony Calhoun, we discussed the role of college sports, the pressure on today’s athletes and much more. In partnership with the Indiana Sports Corp. Read more here.

INconversation 2014

INconversation with Mark Miles and Matt Hunckler
May 8, 2014 | DeveloperTown

Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Co., sat down with Verge’s Matt Hunckler for an INconversation in conjunction with Verge’s popular Pitch Night program. They chatted about sports, leadership and being versatile. Read a blog post about the event and listen in.

INconversation with Mark Samels and Amos Brown
Feb. 25, 2014

Amos Brown and a room full of adults and 5th graders chat with Mark Samels, the executive producer of the American Experience film series on PBS. Billed as ”TV’s Most-Watched History Series” the documentaries include Freedom Riders, about the courageous band of civil rights activists who challenged segregation in the south, and the upcoming film Freedom Summer, about the civil rights movement of 1964. See a video of the event here.

INconversation with Krzysztof Urbanski & David Hochoy
Feb. 13, 2014

A conversation about a unique arts collaboration in Indianapolis — the performance and production of Daphnis Et Chloe – which will feature a full orchestra, original choreography and 150 voice choir. Featuring Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra music director Krzysztof Urbanski and Dance Kaleidoscope artistic director David Hochoy, the conversation will be moderated by Classical Music Indy’s Michael Toulouse and include a tour of Clowes’ backstage.


INconversation 2013

INconversation with Richard Lugar & Pete Buttigieg
Oct. 9 2013 | University on Indianapolis

The Fairbanks Symposium culminated with the keynote conversation between Senator Lugar (also former Indianapolis mayor) and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. Read a recap of the converstation here. 

INconversation with Jenna Golden
July 17, 2013

What’s the future of social media as a tool for change? That’s what we discussed with Twitter’s Jenna Golden, in town for the Millennial Impact Conference and ExactTarget’s social media guru (who literally wrote the book on Twitter marketing) Kyle Lacy. Jenna is a leader in Twitter’s D.C. office responsible for building Twitter as a platform for political and community engagement. Special thanks to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, which provided a grant to support the INconversation series in 2013.

INconversation with Glenn Gass
June 11, 2013

We sat down with Glenn Gass, one of the country’s preeminent rock & roll scholars to chat about the work of one of the most important bands of all time — The Beatles. Attendees were surrounded by the exhibit We Buy White Albums from artist Rutherford Chang, which incorporates 700+ copies of The Beatles’ iconic White Album. The conversation was moderated by Vess Ruhtenberg, a local artist and musician. Special thanks to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, which provided a grant to support the INconversation series in 2013.

INconversation with Kim Beck
May 23, 2013

This conversation with contemporary artist Kim Beck and Lisa Freiman (who is about to leave her position as senior curator and chair of the Department of Contemporary Art at the IMA) features a behind-the-scenes peek at Kim’s new installation in 100 Acres at the IMA. It’s also a farewell conversation for Lisa, who spent 11 years building up the contemporary art scene at the IMA and in Indianapolis. Special thanks to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, which provided a grant to support the INconversation series in 2013.

INconversation with Gary Ginstling
May 15, 2013

The new president and CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Gary Ginstling, brings serious chops to the position as both musician and innovator with degrees in performance from Julliard and Yale, and an MBA from UCLA. He spent several years working in Silicon Valley before stints with orchestras in Cleveland, San Francisco and Berkeley, where he developed a reputation for new and innovative programs. The conversation was moderated by IBJ Arts & Entertainment Editor Lou Harry. Special thanks to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, which provided a grant to support the INconversation series in 2013.

INconversation with Oliver Blank
April 11, 2013

Oliver Blank is a composer who builds sound toys, creates public installations and composes symphonic cinematic music. His goal is to empower residents to connect with sound and create surprising experiences that bring a sense of wonder back to their city. The conversation was moderated by Michael Huber, the senior director of commercial enterprise at the Indianapolis Airport Authority. Special thanks to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, which provided a grant to support the INconversation series in 2013.

INconversation with James Reeves
March 7, 2013

James Reeves is a writer, educator, and designer who is spending one month in Indianapolis as part of We Are City  [IMPORT]. James talks with the audience about Indianapolis’ identity, its strengths and weaknesses, and what he learned about Americans during an epic road trip that led to The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir. Moderated by Krista Skidmore. Special thanks to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, which provided a grant to support the INconversation series in 2013.

INconversation 2012

INconversation with Ann Meyers Drysdale
June 22, 2012

Ann Meyers Drysdale, the first woman to sign an NBA contract (with the Indiana Pacers), talks about hope, failure, and success during a Title IX Anniversary celebration. Moderated by Chris Denari. Read about what we learned here.

INconversation with Jim Lehrer
April 14, 2012

Jim Lehrer has served as the moderator for more U.S. presidential debates than anyone in history. He sat down with  moderator Jim Shella and a small audience for an intimate conversation.

INconversation with Christopher Bedford
March 16, 2012

Popular sport and high art don’t normally go hand in hand. But contemporary art curator Christopher Bedford led a discussion at iMOCA about his most recent exhibit that pairs the two quite nicely. Moderated by Sarah Green. Click here for a recap.

INconversation with Will Allen
January 12, 2012

Spirit of Competition meets Food for Thought in this INconversation with Will Allen, a former Miami Hurricane basketball star who has become an influential and inspiring urban farmer. Moderated by Bill Benner. Read a recap of the event.

INconversation 2011

INconversation with Aaron Renn
November 30, 2011

Urban analyst Aaron Renn discusses the future of Indianapolis’ urban neighborhoods. Moderated by Erika Smith. Read a recap and listen into the conversation.




Contact Kristen Fuhs Wells, Vice President, | 317.616.9407