Board of Directors
Dana Campbell Saylor, President
Lynn Whitman, Secretary
Cheryl Horton, Treasurer
Mary Jo West
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 in 1980. With a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council, the Arizona Department of Library, Archives, and Public records and the Arizona Historical Society conducted research to select the first round of inductees in October of 1981. By 1991, 63 women had been inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.
In 1991, some members of the Legislature were upset at the induction of Margaret Sanger Slee. Although the honor was bestowed for her work in building hospitals in Tucson, Mrs. Slee’s role in promoting birth control and establishing the Planned Parenthood Federation made her unacceptable to many legislators. Support for the Arizona Women’s hall of Fame disappeared and inductions ceased.
For almost ten years, the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame's only activities were presentations to interested groups about women inducted through 1991 held in the old 900-square-foot exhibit space in the Carnegie Library. Dr. Reba Wells Grandrud and others frequently also lectured on women in Arizona history across the State.
As the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that extended the right to vote to women approached in 1995, questions about the status of the Arizona Women’s hall of Fame increased. Interest in restarting the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame inductions peaked with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls conference of women in 1998.
In January of 2000, the Board of Arizona Library, Archives, and Public Records gave permission to resume the Arizona Women’s hall of Fame nomination and induction process. A coalition of state agencies including the State Library and Archives, the Arizona Historical Society, the Sharlot Hall Museum, the Governor’s Office for Women, and the Arizona Humanities Council reviewed the standards and procedures used from 1981 to 1991 and updated them. The first induction ceremony since 1991 was held on October 24, 2002, when three women were honored for their achievements. In 2018, the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame was reorganized as a private nonprofit 501 (c) 3 corporation.