Board of Directors
Dana Campbell Saylor, President
Laura Franco French, Vice President
Chelsea Jones, Secretary
Brenda Jones, Treasurer
Norma Jean Coulter, Member
Janet Elsea, Member
Zona Lorig, Member
Christine Marin, Member
Dennis Preisler, Member
Connie Robinson, Member
Melanie Sturgeon, Member
Brenda Taylor, Member
Brenda Thomson, Member
Lynn Whitman, Member
The Arizona Women’s Commission and the Office of Governor Bruce Babbitt established the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 1980. With help monetarily from the Arizona Humanities council, the Arizona Library, Archives and Public records along with the Arizona Historical Society conducted research on the nominees and, with the Women’s Commission, staged the first induction ceremony in October of 1981. Two committees were then formed, the steering and selection committees, which functioned to organize inductions, from processing nomination forms to planning ceremonies. By 1991, 63 women were 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 into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. 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 after 1991.
For almost 10 years, the only Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame activities were presentations to interested groups about the women who were inducted through 1991, held in the old 900 square foot exhibit space within the Carnegie Library. Dr. Reba Wells Grandrud and others frequently lectured on women in Arizona history throughout the state during this time.
As the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that extended the right to vote to women approached in 1995, the number of questions about the status of the Arizona Women’s hall of Fame sharply increased. Interest in restarting the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame peaked with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls conference of women in 1998.
Resumption of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame
In January of 2000, the Director of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records made a formal presentation to the Board of Library, Archives and Public Records, and was given permission to resume the Arizona Women’s hall of Fame nomination and induction process. A coalition of state agencies served as the executive committee for the Arizona Women’s Hall of fame, where representatives from 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 to apply to 2002. The executive committee established other committees to conduct the nomination, selection and induction functions associated with honoring Arizona women of distinction. October 24, 2002 was the first induction ceremony since 1991 where three women were honored for their achievements, and inductions have continued to take place every two years since.