top of page

Board of Directors

Melanie Sturgeon, PhD


Brenda Thomson

Vice President

Jane Rosenbaum


Sheila Grinell


Christine Marin, PhD

Connie Robinson

Dora Vasquez

Mary Jo West

If you are interested in participating in our activities, please contact us at

The History of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame

Established in 1980
The Arizona Women’s Commission, the Tucson Women’s Commission, and the Office of
Governor Bruce Babbitt established the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame (AzWHF) in 1980. It is
the oldest organization in the state dedicated to honoring the many accomplishments of
women. With a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council, the Governor’s Office oversaw the
administrative aspects of the organization. The Governor appointed an independent Executive
Steering Committee that mapped out the general parameters for a series of seminars around
the state and the course of action to establish the AzWHF. He also appointed an impartial
statewide Selection Committee to review nominations and choose inductees. Arizona was the
fourth state in the country to create a Women’s Hall of Fame. The first Induction Ceremony was held in 1981 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Phoenix where six women were inducted. By 1991sixty-three women had been inducted.

1982-1991 AzWHF Administrative Duties Transferred to the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
In 1982 the AzWHF Executive Steering Committee asked the Arizona State Library, Archives andPublic Records (at that time a legislative agency) to oversee all administrative aspects of the
Hall of Fame. The Selection Committee would remain as an impartial statewide body and the
Executive Steering Committee would continue to conduct public education programs,
encourage nominations, and organize induction ceremonies. The AzWHF continued their
annual inductions through 1991.

1991 Controversy
In 1991 some legislators and members of the public complained when the Selection Committee
designated Margaret Sanger Slee as an inductee into the AzWHF. Although the honor was
bestowed for her work in building hospitals in Tucson, Slee’s role in promoting birth control and
establishing the Planned Parenthood Federation made her unacceptable to many legislators.
Because the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records was a legislative agency, the
Legislature had the power to step in and halt the activities of the AzWHF. They did so soon after
the 1991 Induction Ceremony. Legislative support for the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame
disappeared and the inductions ceased.

For almost ten years former members of the Executive Steering Committee presented
programs in the old Carnegie Library about the sixty-three inducted women. In addition, they
frequently lectured across the state about women in Arizona’s history.

Resumption of the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame
As the 75th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US constitution approached in 1995,
support for the AzWHF increased. In 1998, interest in restarting the Hall of Fame inductions
grew as the 150th anniversary of the Senneca Falls Convention approached. Former AzWHF
committee members held a series of meetings with the Director of the State Library and with
legislators to discuss a way forward. Finally, in January of 2000 the legislative Library Board of

the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records gave permission to resume the AzWHF
nomination and induction process. A coalition of agencies including the State Library, the
Arizona Historical Society, the Sharlot Hall Museum, and the Arizona Humanities Council
reviewed the standards and procedures used from 1981 to 1991. These agencies continued
their involvement with the Hall of Fame, with the State Library again assuming all
administrative functions. The first Induction Ceremony since 1991 was held on October 24,
2002, when three women were honored for their achievements. In 2015 the AzWHF inducted
two living women for the first time. The Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame was organized as a private nonprofit 501 (3) corporation in 2018.
bottom of page