The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County presented the “2019 Making Democracy Work Award” to a remarkable public servant Deanna Durrett.
This award recognizes and honors members of the community who have been leaders and actively engaged in the hands-on work to keep Montgomery County a strong, fair and vibrant place to live and have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to making democracy work. Previous winners have been: Thomas Milligan, Phil Bane, Ann Malott, Dave Long, Kathy Steele, Dale Petrie, William and Nancy Doemel, and Deborah Kochart.
Durrett, who was born at Culver Union Hospital in Crawfordsville and now lives on her Montgomery County family heritage farm on Overcoat Road with husband Jim, spent decades away distinguishing herself in many professional ways. Following completing a masters degree in social work, she was offered a job of doing performance audits of state agencies. These were year-long studies of agencies such as Departments of Correction, Mental Health, Education and the judiciary to see what would make them better and more cost effective.
Durrett served as a Policy Analyst for the Indiana General Assembly, worked for Indiana Department of Mental Health doing public relations, and was a Policy Analyst for the Indiana Department of Education. During the 1990s, she was the Director of the Policy Center for the North Central Regional Education Laboratory, involved with, among many other issues, helping Indiana and its educators bridge their way into the digital age.
Since 1998, Durrett has generously freely given her formidable professional talents to Montgomery County. In her work with League of Women Voters, Deanna has been engaged in analyzing the Montgomery County Solid Waste District study, questioning and explaining the Township Board system to all, headed up LWV Health Study and Report, and is the LWV Observer of the County Council.
Durrett also edits the LWV Governmental Directory which is provided by the League at no cost throughout Montgomery County. In her presentation, she distributed a chart sourced by Purdue University noting elected men and women county policymakers for 91 of the 92 counties in Indiana. Without Marion County (Unigov),765 men have been elected and 145 women. Montgomery County has 10 men and no women, similar to 21 other counties without females currently elected. Only Monroe County has more women (6) elected than men (4).
Durrett also distributed a chart showing numbers of men and women appointed by elected officials to Boards and Commissions in 2019. The Montgomery County Council has appointed 4 men no women, County Commissioners--26 men, 13 women, Crawfordsville City Council--6 men, no women, 1 vacancy, and the Mayor--35 men, 21 women with 1 vacancy.
Why are women underrepresented? Durrett has inquired this issue among many women and men. Responses have included that men feel entitled to seats at policy tables, appointing authorities appoint their men friends, women don’t want to serve or feel unentitled, and some men do not see women as capable. While this is changing in some areas of the country, Durrett noted “chances are rural Midwest will be last to notice and last to change.”
Durrett suggested that this issue needs to be defined and appointing officials be made aware of this. She encouraged all to identify, recruit, encourage, and mentor women to apply for positions on boards and commissions and to run for public office!

The League of Women Voters, open to men as well as women, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For information about the League, send a message to LWV, PO Box 101, Crawfordsville, IN 47933.