Stevi Stoesz Kersh, Executive Director, Indianapolis City Market & Animal Rights Advocate
We’ve long known about Stevi Stoesz Kersh’s passion for creating energetic public spaces and rescuing animals. Then we found out that the Executive Director of Indianapolis City Market also started a biker club for women. And that she has a cool new plan for the haunted Catacombs at City Market.
Personal life: Stevi and her husband, Jason (aka “Kersh”), and their four dogs live in the Indian Lake neighborhood on the northeast side.
Maven superpower(s): Building community and advocating for animals.
Q. OK, please tell us about this group, the Circle City Soft Tails, that you founded in 2013?
As a beginner biker, I wasn’t always comfortable riding alone or with a large group of guys. I wanted to take the intimidation factor out of riding, and thought riding with a pack of strong females would address that issue. I wanted to form a club that let women ride at their pace, their level, without judgment from the group.
Q. You’re involved with many animal protection groups. Was there a recent experience that really moved you?
A little over a year ago, someone posted three graphic pictures of a pit bull who had been used as a bait dog in a dog-fighting ring in the South. I set out to find this dog a home, as I knew it would take some time to find just the right adopter. Turns out, that adopter was me. Elvis is our fourth dog—the third with special needs.
Q. What’s new and cool at City Market?
We’re working on some evening programming and initiatives to spark nighttime activity. I’m also trying to figure out how to use part of the Catacombs as an Airbnb. It would appeal to the more adventurous folks!
“I wanted to form a club that let women ride at their pace, their level, without judgment from the group.“
Q. We love it when you post about your 101-year-old mom, out mowing the lawn and just generally being a rock star. What’s the most important thing she taught you?
Technically, Wilma Jean Roush is my grandmother. She and my grandfather were awarded guardianship of me when I was about 2 ½ years old. My father (their son) was killed in a helicopter accident while serving in the Army in 1968. He died about a month and a half before I was born, and my biological mom was devastated.
Wilma Jean has been my guiding star, and I am so grateful to her for the life force that she is. She maintains a large property in southern Indiana, belongs to book and card clubs, adopts stray animals, voices her opinion at town council meetings, makes an incredible pie, and is revered by so many. When asked how she’s been able to remain so active, she simply advises people not to sit down for too long.
Q. Book you’ve read recently, that you’d recommend?
The Soul of an Octopus. It explores the deep similarities between humans and animals, and the bonds we inherently share.
You can follow Stevi’s adventures on Instagram @bikerbabe1969.
Photo: Anthony Valainas
Amanda Kingsbury is planning to sign up for the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy next spring, just so she can join the Circle City Soft Tails.