The 2020 May Wright Sewall Event is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, March 19th at the Propylaeum as part of the Suffrage Centennial celebrations. The May Wright Sewall Award is presented to Hoosier women exuding the spirit of May Wright Sewall, who worked tirelessly to advance women’s leadership roles, personal improvement, and standing in the community. A tenacious organizer, Sewall fought beside Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others for women’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’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 has been a leader in Indiana for decades, shining a light on women’s equality throughout her work as a business owner, legislator, and community advocate, passing legislation that enacted the Indiana Commission for Women in 1996, among many other policies. She was first elected Monroe County Auditor in 1981, then serving in the Indiana State Senate for District 40 from 1984-2012, where she was later elected the first female caucus leader of the Indiana Senate Democrats. Senator Simpson was the first woman to serve on and chair the State Budget Committee in 2008. Simpson left the Indiana General Assembly in 2012 and ran with John Gregg as the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Simpson now enjoys retirement as a volunteer, wife and grandmother.