For over 30 years, Steward Speakers Series has brought the Indianapolis community opportunities to engage with the nation’s best leaders and brightest luminaries.
IUPUI is the title sponsor of the series, which also provides opportunities for students to meet with and learn from speakers when they visit the city.
Matthew Steward, the founder and president of Steward Speakers Series, has brought more than 100 minority nationally known speakers to Indianapolis. Steward was awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion last year for his work with the series.
Recently, Matthew answered some questions about the Steward Speakers Series, its meaning to the community, and the partnership with IUPUI.
Q: What is Steward Speakers Series?
A: Steward Speakers is a local community organization that brings prominent thought leaders to Indianapolis to educate, inspire and invoke meaningful conversations. For over 30 years, Steward Speakers has been dedicated to enhancing the community by providing opportunities to engage with America’s best leaders and brightest luminaries. We provide an educational experience to young people, families, indigent and the adult learner who normally would not receive the opportunity to attend such events. Steward Speakers showcases lecturers of national and local prominence.
Q: How did Steward Speakers Series get started?
A: The speakers series began while Matthew was a student at IU Bloomington. Union Board was a campus-run student entertainment program that included lectures, plays and theatre events. He was in charge of the lecture series where he would invite leaders like Harry Belafonte, Dick Gregory and Bill Cosby to come speak. Upon graduation and returning to Indianapolis, he discovered that Indianapolis did not have such a forum, so together with his family, he decided to create Steward Speakers. With the help of local community leaders such as the late Bill Mays, the owner and founder of Mays Chemical Co. who was widely referred to as “Indiana’s most successful black businessman,” along with other community leaders, Steward Speakers was introduced as a unique community organization.
Q: How long has it been running?
A: Steward Speakers is proud to celebrate this season of 33 years serving Indianapolis.
Q: How is IUPUI involved, and why is that involvement important?
A: The partnership with IUPUI began in 2016 when Steward Speakers identified IUPUI as a great partner and, as a result of that collaboration, IUPUI decided to become the title sponsor. This collaboration was a great win for both Steward Speakers and IUPUI since one of the pillars of Steward Speakers is to focus on students and education. It speaks volumes when an educational institution, especially IUPUI, supports the series with its resources and funding.
Q: What is the goal of Steward Speakers Series?
A: For over 30 years, Steward Speakers has been dedicated to enhancing the community by providing opportunities for those in Indianapolis to engage with America’s world-class leaders. These leaders support our mission of “more than just talk” and allow us to live out our three pillars: Education, Engagement and Experience.
Education: Steward Speakers has reached over 30,000 students through our speakers who visit local elementary, high schools and colleges in the city.
Engagement: Speakers begin the conversations, but Steward Speakers helps keep the conversations going through media and local events in order to involve and engage the community.
Experience: Steward Speakers sponsors an annual cultural trip to expose the community to the rich history and culture around the United States.
These are the main goals and how we continue to excel as a premier non-profit organization in the community.
Q: What can people get from these speaking events that they can’t get elsewhere?
A: Imagine going to your favorite concert and having an up close and personal conversation, along with an opportunity to take a photo with the performer. Steward Speakers brings the “best of the best” celebrities, thought-leaders and influencers right to the community so individuals can learn directly from these leaders, understand their journey, and receive encouragement to fulfill their own destiny. These speakers engage with the individuals, provide the opportunity to mingle at an informal reception, and get pictures taken with the speaker. How much more up close and personal can you get? Additionally, the Steward Speakers Series allows corporations to get involved through community conversations with exclusive partnerships and sponsorship opportunities.
You can still get tickets to the two upcoming events: Rickey Smiley on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Madam Walker Legacy Center; and Susan Rice on Monday, March 2 at the IUPUI Campus Center. Click here more information and to buy tickets.