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Roberta Heiman and Lezlie Simmons are the 2022 Making Democracy Work Award winners

Published on 6/26/2022

Roberta Heiman’s career in journalism spanned 42 years, most of it in Evansville as an investigative reporter shedding light on community issues as varied as air pollution and jail overcrowding, the child welfare system and medical malpractice. In her work, she became aware that women’s contributions to our Southwestern Indiana communities have been left out of most local history books – which were written by men. Righting that wrong has become her mission in retirement.

In addition to writing and speaking about local historic women, she resurrected the Southwestern Indiana League of Women Voters, which had disbanded in the ‘90s, and she was among the founders of Women Stepping Up, which encourages and helps prepare women to seek elective office and be civically active. In 2013 she was honored as a recipient of the Torchbearer Award by the Indiana Commission for Women.

Roberta grew up in Evansville and attended Purdue University.  She is married to Paul McAuliffe, has 3 grown children and 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grand child.


Lezlie Simmons has had a life-long passion for learning.  She is a graduate cum laude from IU Law School and she holds a master’s degree in Library Science.  Throughout her career she practiced law, worked in Administration at the Evansville Public Library and was an adjunct professor at both UE and IVY Tech. 

Over the years, Lezlie has been in leadership positions in many organizations, including the Evansville Bar Association, Indiana Public Library Association, and the Evansville Human Resources Association.  She started the Positive Futures program for pregnant and parenting teens at the YWCA and chaired Women’s Equality Day. We in the League know Lezlie as a master in “getting things done”. 

Most notably, she chaired our 100th Anniversary event in February 2020 and teamed up with Roberta Heiman for the Women’s Suffrage Trail Marker
honoring Lucia Blount.


Lezlie and her spouse of 36 years, Jay Shrode, have 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.