Brownstown native receives Sagamore of the Wabash award

Advocating for pro-life issues, Susan Prentice Swayze Liebel worked closely with former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his staff.

The efforts of the Brownstown native, who now lives in Indianapolis, recently were acknowledged by being presented the state’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash award.

The award is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor. Among the recipients over the years are astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians and ordinary citizens.

Liebel has worked for more than 25 years in policy development, program design and implementation, lobbying and political strategy. She currently works two part-time jobs — vice president of public affairs for Indiana Right to Life and coordinator of the National Pro-Life Women’s Caucus for the Susan B. Anthony List.

“I was truly speechless and very humbled to receive this honor. It was very special, and I really will cherish it,” Liebel said. “I also pledge to continue to work even harder to help women and unborn Hoosier babies, to save more Hoosier babies from the pain of abortion and also their mothers from the pain after an abortion.

“The abortion rate in Indiana is down over 25 percent. Health and safety standards at clinics are better. We’ve done a lot of good work together getting women more information about the pros and cons and the impacts of abortions,” she said. “It has been a privilege to work with the governor and his team.”

She, however, said she doesn’t do the work for the recognition.

“In fact, sometimes, being pro-life is not very well-respected. It is difficult work, and it’s not always appreciated,” she said. “To be honored for it and to work along with such a great man and his great team was such a privilege. Mike Pence is a great guy in addition to being a champion for women and their unborn babies.”

Liebel grew up in Brownstown, attending Seymour schools until eighth grade and graduating from Brownstown Central High School in 1978.

She then went to Indiana University, earning a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1982 and a master’s degree in planning and management in 1984.

She has lived and worked in Indianapolis since 1981.

Read the full story in Tuesday’s Tribune and online at