Pioneering Woman

Rachael Van Horn (left) and Sheila Gay (right) of the Woodward News present the inaugural Northwest Oklahoma Pioneering Woman of industry award to Megan Simpson during Friday’s ceremony held in the Woodward Arts Theatre. (Photo by Brandy Barby)

Harper County Associate District Judge Megan Simpson can add one more title to her already impressive resume.

Simpson was named the 2014 Northwest Oklahoma Pioneering Woman of Industry Friday night at the inaugural awards ceremony.

The event was presented by Gwaine Matthews State Farm and Woodward Arts and Theater Council and promoted by the Woodward News.

The promotion of the entire award was sponsored by Pioneer Cellular, Anchor Drilling Fluids USA, Inc., Woodward Regional Hospital, High Plains Technology Center, Tri-State oil and Gas Convention Board, Woodward Chamber of Commerce, Figley-Salz & Company, Northwest Electric, the Woodward Convention and Visitors Bureau, Woodward Main Street and Woodward Public Schools. 

The award aimed to recognize 15 of Northwest Oklahoma's women trail blazers who have fought hard to achieve in what ever endeavors they chose for their lives.

An engraved Beatriz Ball platter sponsored by Mead Jewelers of Woodward was presented to Simpson. 

Simpson was so surprised by her win that she found herself uncharacteristically without words and after stammering for a minute, she expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to compete against a field of women such as the finalists present Friday evening.

“When I read about and met these women, I was humbled,” she said.

She expressed her gratitude for the opportunity offered by the Woodward News and the sponsors for women to be recognized.

Simpson has served 20 years in the legal profession, first as an attorney in private practice and then later as a public defender. She went on to go to work for the State of Oklahoma as a prosecutor for the District Attorney's Council.

Simpson's life work has been in an admittedly still male dominated field. But instead of chaffing at the difference, Simpson sought to learn what she could from her male counterparts, who seemed extremely adept at supporting each other. 

"As a young litigator, I came into what is and still is a male-dominated profession, in particular when it comes to courtroom work," Simpson wrote in her application. "To be frank, we women could learn a thing or two from our male counterparts."

Simpson noted that as she observed the camaraderie expressed by the men in her field, and the mentoring men offered each other, this would be the path she would take with regard to mentoring other women. 

Throughout Simpson's early legal career, she had a staunch eye on her goal, which at times seemed like it might never happen. And even she said, she almost gave up at one point. 

"My application for appointment for Harper County Associate District Judge was the fourth and final application I had submitted to the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Committee," she said. "I had been selected as one of the three names to be interviewed by the Governor all three previous occasions. I was frustrated...I came very close to pulling my name for consideration."

Simpson noted that it was after a lot of prayerful consideration that she decided to leave the process in the hands of a higher power than herself. 

Simpson has since served on the bench in Harper County. She believes her varied work history, working as a defender, prosecutor and as a private attorney all offer her a rare sense of all the sides to an argument. 

Despite her obvious success in her professional life, it is clear from being in this woman's presence, that it is her faith and her three year old daughter Avery that steal the limelight for her. 

"My daughter Avery will forever represent my most significant contribution, regardless of my prior achievements or success in my future endeavors in my professional life," she said. 

Simpson was among 14 other finalists including; 

*Business co-owner, mother and community mentor, Violet Miner of Laverne. *Rancher, cattlewoman and rural issues spokeswoman, Andrea Hutchison of Canton.

*Veteran cosmetologist, community volunteer and cancer survivor, Gloria Fothergill of Woodward.

*Entrepreneur, wife, mother and community volunteer, Ila Bently of Laverne.

*Harper County Associate District Judge, community volunteer and mother, Megan Simpson.

*Rancher, business woman, community leader and mother, Carol Murphy of May

*Veteran oilfield lease operator, entrepreneur, mother and community volunteer, Evelyn Dixon of Knowles.

 *Oklahoma Highway Patrolman, fitness trainer and mentor, Charity Robertson of

* Compassionate animal rescue founder, entrepreneur and community volunteer, Debbie Kinney of Woodward

* Educator, mentor, wife and community leader, Belinda Breisch of Sharon-Mutual

*Public servant, business leader, mother and community volunteer, Darlene Drew

*Veteran educator, entrepreneur and mother, Corene Selman of Woodward

*Rancher, mentor, writer and community volunteer, Sherry Barby of Laverne

*Childcare provider, mentor and community volunteer, Ginger Miller of Laverne

*Veteran equine expert and oil and gas industry leader, Renee Cudd of Woodward.

Each of the finalists received an award plaque sponsored by the Woodward News.

Trending Video

Recommended for you