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May Wright Sewall Leadership Award

The May Wright Sewall Leadership Award is given to an outstanding woman in Indiana who exudes the spirit of May Wright Sewall.  In the spirit of May Wright Sewall, and all that she accomplished from:

  • founding the first-class mid-western Girls Classical School to provide an ivy league education to girls,

  • to introducing physical education for girls,

  • to founding the Indianapolis Woman’s Club

  • to the National Council of Women,

  • to fighting diligently beside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for a woman’s right to vote not just in the United States but across the world,

  • to founding the International Council of Women and

  • to hosting the International Woman’s Congress at the 1893 World’s Fair


May Wright Sewall set the bar for civic engagement.  Each year the Propylaeum selects one outstanding example of civic leadership and innovation for the May Wright Sewall Leadership Award.

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Deborah Hearn Smith has impacted the lives of nearly one million girls through the Girl Scouts organization. Deborah served in a professional capacity with the Girls Scouts since the early 1970s and as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana from 2007-2018. Deborah has dedicated her life to encouraging girlsto become leaders with courage, confidence and character. Deborah has helped to ensure that generations of Hoosier girls enter the next stage of their lives as well educated, civically engaged and philanthropic women.


Deborah has received numerous awards including the Torchbearer Award, the Sagamore of the Wabash and the Indiana Living Legend Award by the Indiana Historical Society.

Vi Simpson has led Indiana for many years in working to bring equity for women throughout her work as a legislator and community advocate. She was first elected as the Monroe County Auditor in 1981, followed by her Successful run as an Indiana State Senator for District 40 from 1984-2012, where she served as the Minority Leave from 2008-2012. Simpson worked as President of Vi Simpson and Company from 1982 to 1988 and has been Executive Director of the Heritage Education Foundation since 1989. Senator Simpson was the first woman to serve on and lead the State Budget Committee and in 2008. Additional accomplishments as a State Senator include co-writing the legislation that enacted the Indiana Commission for Women in 1996.

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Marianne Glick founded the Executive Women’s Training Program in 1986, assisting organizations to enhance employee productivity and effectiveness. She is chairwoman of the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Family Foundation and president of the board for TeenWorks. She also serves on the boards of the Gene B. Glick Co., United Way of Central Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College, IUPUI Chancellor’s Advisory Council, Goodwill, Ascend Indiana, and Community Health Foundation. She has served as a trustee for Ball State University, Central Indiana Community Foundation, the Women’s Hospital, Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Women’s Fund and Prevent Blindness Indiana.

Marianne is an accomplished artist and president and owner of GlickArt, with paintings being accepted into juried competitions and winning awards in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Florida. Marianne often contributes her paintings to assist non-profit organizations, such as the Children's Bureau, Girls Inc., Dress for Success, Planned Parenthood, United Way, and Women's Fund. She has received the following honors: Charles L. Whistler Award 2018, Sagamore of the Wabash 2014, Michael Carroll Award, the first honorary alumni award from Ball State University, Woman of Influence 2012 by the Indianapolis Business Journal, Touchstone Award 2011 from Girls Inc., and Indiana Woman of Influence in 2010 by Ball State University.


May Wright Sewall Leadership Award Winners


Debora Hearn Smith 2020

Vi Simpson 2020

Marianne Glick 2019

Pearl Bassett 2018

Dr. Sue Ellspermann 2018

Judy O'Bannon 2018

Dr. Jamia Jasper Case Jacobsen 2017

Glenda Ritz 2017

Myra Borschoff   2016

Elaine Bedel   2015

Phyllis Geeslin   2014

Rose Marie Pennington   2013

Bonnie Carter   2012

Kathleen Prechtel   2011

Barbara Oliphant   2010

Doris Dimond   2009

Cheryl Sparks   2007

Janice Michael   2007

Meme Kramer   2007

Mary V. Anderson   2007

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman   2006

Dr. Mary E. Busch   2005

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