INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The name Pence keeps popping up when it comes to presidential politics in 2016. But, at least for now, the Pences say they’re staying put, to serve the people of Indiana.
24-Hour News 8 recently sat down with Indiana’s First Lady for a one-on-one interview.
“I wanted to just take this four years and say ‘what can I do in this limited amount of time to make a difference in Indiana,’” said Karen Pence.
Pence is a mother, a teacher, an artist, a philanthropist and First Lady of the state of Indiana. After being a political wife in Washington for years, when she and her husband Mike were elected to the highest office in Indiana, it took some getting used to.
“The privacy thing has probably been the biggest surprise,” said Pence. “You know that you’re going to have security driving you all the time, but to actually have them driving you, it’s something you have to adjust to.”
However, she didn’t want to sit idly in the passenger seat as First Lady, so she sought advice.
“When we were elected, I sat down with all of the first ladies,” said Pence. “I just said ‘Let me pick your brain, tell me do’s and don’ts, advice.’ They were all amazing.”
She heard things like never judge a pie contest, appreciate each day because it goes by fast, and do what makes you feel comfortable. And that’s exactly what she did. She created a First Ladies fundraising luncheon and a foundation.
In June, she handed out $22,000 to more than 20 charities.
“It’s just a way to say, here’s a small donation,” said Pence. “But maybe we can draw a little attention in your own community so people are aware of what you’re doing.”
Supporting charitable causes, and being able to champion Indiana schools, have been her passionate pursuits.
“That’s kind of my selfish part of being first lady, is that I want to visit the schools because I’m not teaching right now, and I miss being around kids,” said Pence.
A teacher for 25 years, she makes regular school visits and often talks to students around the state.
“I have just been so impressed with the schools in Indiana, personally when I visit. So many teachers out there are working as hard as they can to reach the students where they are,” said Pence.
At home in the governor’s residence, the peaceful grounds offer a respite in the middle of a constant motion.
“I do have a morning prayer time before I start the day,” said Pence. “Mostly just wanting to be open to things that come our way. I don’t want to get so set on a plan, this is what we’re doing and miss someone who is right there, who just a word to this person would make all the difference.”
It’s a safe place to reflect on the past
“When we ran the first time in ’88, we were ambitious, we thought we were going to solve the world’s problems,” said Pence. “And we were very arrogant at that time in our lives. It’s a good thing we didn’t win our runs for Congress in ’88 and ’90.”
Pence also discussed the future, especially in light of the rumors that a White House run is on the horizon.
“It’s always a compliment to Indiana if people are talking about what’s going on in our state and talking about our governor,” said Pence. “In that respect, we want to encourage that kind of talk, because it draws attention to what’s going right in Indiana. We know the difference of ambition driving you to run for something and feeling a calling,”
Pence says she schedules family time on the calendar months in advance and says over the years, that has really helped keep the kids and the governor balanced.
She has also been asked to chair the bicentennial celebration for the state in 2016 and says she’s looking forward to celebrating all 92 counties in Indiana.