Connie Robinson

Connie Robinson, chair of the 48 Women Committee, said the pandemic has produced a number of women leaders in all walks of life.

Nearly 10-years after its initial publication, the Scottsdale nonprofit 48 Arizona Women has begun a search for a new list of intriguing women to commemorate in its next book. 

Originally conceptualized as part of the state’s centennial celebration, the group is looking for a new and diverse group of women to feature in a new book, “Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women—A New Decade.”

“We’re looking for women who have been innovators, have done great research, are in the trades or are astronauts,” 48 Women Committee Chair Connie Robinson said.  “We’re looking at areas that are mainly male dominated and have women that are making a great difference.” 

While a decade has passed since the first edition of the book hit shelves, Robinson feels that events in the past year and a half have proven the strength and resilience of women in Arizona as well as around the globe.

“When we look at the original ‘48 Arizona’s Most Intriguing Women,’ it was tied to the centennial and their remarkable work,” she said. 

“The world has witnessed and been involved in a pandemic like we have never known in our lifetime, and I think that the work of those women who were on the frontlines for COVID-19 relief and those who helped lead the charge in healthcare, law enforcement and scholars will be recognized.”

Robinson also thinks that the work women have done throughout the pandemic could serve as a nexus event. 

“I think the impact of the pandemic is going to show us a whole new look at how women lead young and seasoned women throughout the second iteration of 48 Arizona Women,” she said. 

Robinson hopes the other contrast in the new edition will be the diversity of the women featured.

“We know that diversity, equity and inclusion is a driver for the world today and we were very fortunate to have such a diverse lineup of women in the original 48 Arizona Women from every ethnicity,” she said, adding:

 “We believe that this book, from the educational perspective, will reach those underserved girls who will see faces that look like theirs and say I can be this and I can do that too.” 

Robinson has already witnessed the impact the first book has had on young women. 

“We feel that the book itself has motivated young girls,” she said. “We’re talking to a young lady who is an Oxford grad and has said that the book really inspired her, particularly the parts about Judge Barbara Mundell and Judge Roxanne Song Ong.” 

Mundell and Song Ong are just a few of the standouts from the first edition. 

“We traveled the state from the White Mountains to Yuma, Sierra vista to Sedona and identified women who were doing incredible work from Chief Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to Delphine Rodriguez, who is an ordained minister and a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe that ministered to and assisted in the re-entry of incarcerated women,” Robinson said. 

Other individuals Robinson spoke highly of were Carmen Bermúdez, Mary Black and Virginia Counts. 

Bermúdez was a famous bullfighter in Costa Rica before coming to Arizona and opening the first Latina-led mission trust in Tucson. 

The book also identified Mary Black, who opened the first and only Black Family and Child Services and there was also Virginia Counts, who worked at Honeywell at the time and led the team that was responsible for creating the safety lever that Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger used to safely land U.S. Airways Flight 1519 in the Hudson River. 

Other notable names in the first edition included: Lonnie Ali, Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Cindy McCain, Jeanne Herberger, Former Governor Janet Napolitano, Diana Taurasi and Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

With a first book stacked with impressive women, Robinson is excited to see the women who are nominated for the next list. 

“When we first did this, we received well over 300 nominations, so I believe we will be more than pleased with the number of nominations that we receive,” she said.

Robinson said 48 Women received its first nomination a day after applications opened and have received 10 applications within the first five days they accepted nominations.

Beyond hoping to find impressive women to feature in the book, Robinson hopes it can serve as a source of inspiration for the next generation of women. 

“I would hope that young girls and young women would see in this book that if you have a dream and you have a goal, that you yourself are the one that stops that dream and that goal. Just keep moving forward and you will reach that dream or that goal,” she said. 

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A committee comprising a diverse group of community leaders, public and private sector leaders and residents will evaluate nominees on several key factors: the impact that their leadership, accomplishments and dedication have had on the state and the nation; their influence as role models and visionaries; and their ability to relate to a wide range of people.

Honorees will be announced in early 2022 and featured in a 140-plus page coffee table book titled “Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women—A New Decade,” telling each woman’s story in words and photos. All honorees will be formally recognized in spring 2022 during a 48 Women Luncheon as well as a VIP reception for the launch of the book.

 The book will be available for purchase throughout Arizona in mid-2022.

The application period is open until Sept. 30 and the honorees will be announced in January 2022.