May Wright Sewall Leadership Award

January 9, 2020


The 2020 May Wright Sewall Leadership Award Event is scheduled for the evening of

Thursday, March 19th at the Propylaeum as part of the suffrage centennial commemoration.  The May Wright Sewall Award is presented to women in Indiana who exude the spirit of May Wright Sewall who worked to advance women’s leadership roles, personal improvement, and standing in the community. As a tireless organizer, Sewall fought beside Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and many others for a woman’s right to vote worldwide. 


The 2020 May Wright Sewall Recipients exemplify the very essence of May Wright Sewall’s efforts.


This year’s awardees, Deborah Hearn Smith and Vi Simpson, have advocated for women from birth through adulthood.   


Deborah Hearn Smith


Deborah Hearn Smith’s almost 50 years of service with the Girl Scouts organization has impacted the lives of nearly one million girls. She has dedicated her life to encouraging them to 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 was the first African American woman CEO of the Central Indiana Girl Scouts organization. She retired from the post in 2017.



Vi Simpson


Vi Simpson has led Indiana for many years in working to bring equality for women throughout her work as a business owner, legislator and community advocate, including authoring legislation that enacted the Indiana Commission for Women in 1996. 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 was elected the first female leader of the Indiana Senate Democrats serving as the Minority Leader from 2008-2012. Senator Simpson was also the first woman to serve on and chair the State Budget Committee in 2008. Leaving the Indiana General Assembly in 2012, Simpson ran with John Gregg as the Democratic Lt. Governor candidate. Simpson is enjoying retirement as a volunteer, wife, and grandmother.


The May wright Sewall Leadership Award Event will be Thursday, March 19 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for this event are $100 or $125 to be recognized as a Sewall Supporter. Tables of 8 are available for $1,000. For ticket information please visit or contact LaurieAnne Perez at or by calling 317-638-7881 x4.


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The Indianapolis Propylaeum

 a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

1410 North Delaware Street  |  Indianapolis, IN 46202  Call 317.638.7881

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