(Sept. 22, 1922- Aug. 21, 1981). Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Harriette Vesta Bailey Conn graduated from CRISPUS ATTUCKS HIGH and Talladega College, where she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Returning to Indiana, she became the first African American woman to earn her JD from Indiana University in Indianapolis in 1955.

Bailey Conn began her career as a deputy attorney general of Indiana and served from 1955 to 1965, where she worked with the state retirement fund and civil rights. In 1965, she was elected and served two terms as a Republican state representative for Marion County in the Indiana General Assembly. During her time in office, Bailey Conn fought for women’s rights, proposing abortion legislation that would prioritize the life of the mother and sponsoring legislation to increase welfare for mothers and children.

In 1967, Mayor Richard G. Lugar selected Bailey Conn to serve as assistant city attorney, where she focused her efforts on housing and employment. She was appointed as Indiana State Public Defender in 1970, making her the first woman and African American to serve in this role. During her tenure, she expanded the office from 3 to 27 to ensure justice and fairness for inmates through the appeals process.

In addition to her professional accolades, she was a dedicated mother of seven and an active community leader involved in organizations such as the Naacp, the US Commission on Civil Rights, the Indianapolis Women’s Political Caucus, and Urban League, among others. Bailey Conn’s dedication to law and public service remains central in her legacy as a community leader.

Revised March 2021

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