Why She’s Interesting: A longtime Plain Dealer reporter, theater critic and columnist, Simakis teamed up with colleague Rachel Dissell to write “Case Closed,” last year’s most ambitious, impactful piece of local journalism. The pair told the story of Sandi Fedor, who felt compelled to investigate her own rape case after Cleveland police stopped.
The Start: Fedor approached The Plain Dealer in 2018 after trying repeatedly to get the status of her case from Cleveland sex crimes detectives. As the reporting progressed, Simakis marveled at Fedor’s transformation. “She was clearly extremely traumatized and talking about it was extremely traumatic. The Sandi at the end of the process was like a different person. She was able to speak about what happened to her much more forcefully, much more directly.”
Impactful Story: Through Fedor’s story, Simakis and Dissell were able to show how the chronic understaffing in the sex crimes unit has left women with few options after their cases go uninvestigated. “She had been fearless enough to trust us with her life’s story. We didn’t want to screw that up, for her and for what her story could do, what her story could illuminate about the system.”
Going Pro: When the theater critic spot opened in 2012, Simakis jumped on it. She graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s in journalism and a dramatic literature minor, so the post played to her strengths. “It has always been a kind of primal love of mine, the theater.”
Model Home: Simakis is always searching for period furniture for her Streamline Moderne house in Cleveland Heights, built by local architect Harold Burdick in 1938. “The people who owned it before, they built into the house [the proverb], ‘People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.’ I’m like, ‘I’m a critic. I need to live in this house.’ ”
Three and Out:
What’s making you laugh lately?
My 5-year-old nephew, Alexander. He tells excellent jokes.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Spent the night in places I had no business being. Like the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts, and a hotel at the base of an active volcano in Costa Rica.
If your life was a hashtag, what would it be?