Deana Haworth and Dr. Virginia Caine Named 2024 Recipients of the May Wright Sewall Leadership Award

By The Indianapolis Propylaeum | | 5.24.24

Award honors outstanding examples of civic leadership in Indiana

The Indianapolis Propylaeum honored Deana Haworth and Dr. Virginia Caine during its 2024 May Wright Sewall Leadership Award ceremony and luncheon Thursday, May 16. Each year, The Indianapolis Propylaeum selects one or more individuals who are exceptional examples of civic engagement and who embody the spirit of May Wright Sewall, renown suffragist, activist and founder of The Indianapolis Propylaeum.

“Like May Wright Sewall, Deana Haworth and Dr. Virginia Caine have contributed immeasurably to the civic and physical health of our community,” said Susan Fasig, board president of The Indianapolis Propylaeum. “Both have worked diligently, and to remarkable effect, to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable of our city’s residents. And both are bold, tenacious leaders as committed to the success of other women as they are to their own.”

“Deana does clamor,” said Althea Cooper, board treasurer of The Indianapolis Propylaeum. “As the CEO of Hirons, the largest female-owned marketing and public relations firm in the state, she has worked her way up in the ranks, carrying talented women with her as she climbed.”

“When public health and safety are on the line, people from across the political spectrum, from the halls of local government to the governor’s mansion, turn to Deana,” said Kristian Little Stricklen, president of the Madam Walker Legacy Center.

Haworth is the CEO of Hirons, a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise and communications consulting agency providing advertising, public relations and digital services. She is the first woman to serve in this role in the agency’s 45-year history. Haworth earned her Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America and is best known for her work in crisis communications and issues management. Haworth serves on the boards of the Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indy Chamber, Central Indiana Women’s Business Center, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, Indianapolis Downtown Marketing Inc. and Madam Walker Legacy Center; is a member of Aspire’s Economic Development Advisory Council; and is the first woman to serve as board chair of the Crossroads of America Council. She was named a 2018 Woman of Influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

“As the director of the Marion County Public Health Department, Dr. Caine fearlessly led the 13th-largest city in the country through a global pandemic,” said Ali Brown, former executive director of The Indianapolis Propylaeum. “Her quick actions and smart decision-making saved thousands of lives and made Indianapolis one of the safest large cities to be in during the pandemic.”

“May Wright Sewall considered it her personal mission to create lasting change for the most vulnerable among us,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. “I can’t think of a more fitting person to honor in the name of that mission than Dr. Caine.”

Dr. Caine is director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department and associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine’s Infectious Diseases Division. Dr. Caine works tirelessly to promote and advance public health through innovative programs and unprecedented collaborations. With a national reputation for her work in public health through the

Marion County Public Health Department, Dr. Caine was instrumental in setting up the first nationwide physician education program regarding AIDS for the National Medical Association; the program was later duplicated by the American Medical Association. She is chairman of the board of trustees for the National Medical Association and current chair of the infectious diseases section. Dr. Caine also chairs the Managed Emergency Surge for Healthcare (MESH) Coalition. She received the BioCrossroads 2017 August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award.

The May Wright Sewall Leadership Award’s namesake established national and international reputations through several endeavors. Sewall fought to expand the role of women in society and actively campaigned for women’s rights to equal education. She also sought the ballot for women, firmly believing that, once educated and armed with political rights, women could stop war, clean up society and create a better world for humankind. By 1920, Sewall’s fame as a women’s rights activist and peace advocate had spread so widely that she was one of the best-known Hoosiers in the world. Sewall is credited with founding the Herron School of Art + Design; the Art Association of Indianapolis, which later became the Indianapolis Museum of Art/Newfields; the Indianapolis Woman’s Club; and the Contemporary Club.

Previous recipients of the May Wright Sewall Leadership Award include former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, Marianne Glick, Cordelia Lewis-Burks and Dr. Sue Ellspermann, among others. For more information about May Wright Sewall and The Indianapolis Propylaeum, please visit

About The Indianapolis Propylaeum

The Indianapolis Propylaeum connects and celebrates women by offering a welcoming place for women to use their voices, inspire leadership and continue the legacy of women supporting women; by providing arts and cultural programs to the diverse community of Indianapolis; and by preserving and maintaining its historic home. The Propylaeum has been the place for women since 1888 and has been located at its historic home at 1410 N. Delaware St. for over 100 years.