Historical League Historymakers

Historymakers are men and women who have distinguished themselves with noted achievements in such diverse areas as the arts, athletics, communications, community service, education and entertainment, and who have maintained their ties to Arizona.
Members of the Central Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Historical Society and members of the Historical League nominate living men and women for this honor. The names are submitted to a panel of notable Arizonans, who are of diverse backgrounds, for final selection.
The Historical League has hosted the Historymakers Gala and Recognition Program since 1992 with the purpose of
- Raising funds for education, exhibits, and other programs that assist the Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park.
- Contributing to the museum’s artifact, oral history and photograph collections.
- Increasing public awareness of the 80,000-square-foot history museum.
- Recognizing and honoring outstanding living Arizonans and celebrating Arizona’s statehood day, February 14, 1912.

These selected honorees were honored at the Historymakers Gala on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The highlight of the evening was a video program telling each Historymaker’s unique life story and accomplishments.


Betsey Bayless

A proud, third-generation Arizonan, Betsey Bayless’ many claims to fame include stints as Arizona Secretary of State, Maricopa County Supervisor, and Maricopa Integrated Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. A one-time Valley Leadership Woman of the Year and HOPE honoree, Betsey maintains memberships on the boards of numerous community, business, nonprofit, and political organizations. She also has devoted her time and considerable talents to the Arizona Board of Regents, the Arizona Department of Administration and the Arizona Department of Revenue, drawing upon skills honed during her career as an investment banker, stock broker and vice president of public finance. Betsey earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree from Arizona State University.  She also holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Arthur DeCabooter

Dr. Arthur DeCabooter served as the President of Scottsdale Community College for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2008.  A Founding Chair of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission, which spearheaded the conservation of a more than 30,000-acre city preserve, Arthur also chaired numerous healthcare and education committees and assisted with the STARS and Scottsdale Visioning 20/20 initiatives, among other efforts. Lauded for his attention to education, community leadership and healthcare, as well as his efforts to aid local chambers of commerce, Arthur holds a doctoral degree from Indiana University. He has served on the boards of multiple community, business, and diversity organizations throughout the years.

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox has proved instrumental in helping preserve and publicize the state’s expansive arts scene, having held administrative leadership roles with the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the Scottsdale Museum of the West, the Colton Research Center at the Museum of Northern Arizona, and University of California at Berkley. The Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville, Michael played a critical role in achieving passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, providing a process through which museums and federal agencies could return Native American cultural items and finds to their rightful descendants and tribes. Michael’s many other achievements include stints as the director of the American Cancer Society’s Arizona chapter, the Arizona office of the American Diabetes Association, the Arizona Tourism Alliance, and the City of Phoenix Arts District.

Alfredo Gutierrez

A fourth-generation Arizonan, an Arizona State University alumni, a Vietnam War veteran, and a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow, Alfredo Gutierrez founded Arizona State University’s Mexican-American Student Organization, which has since evolved into the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Astlan. He also played a key role in the founding of Chicanos por la Causa and Valle del Sol in Phoenix, which provide much-need resources to some of the state’s underserved residents.  A one-time Majority Whip and member of the Arizona State Senate, Alfredo also held a position on the Maricopa County College Governing Board in addition to professional stints as a public relations executive, private consultant, public speaker, talk radio host, and educator. The author of To Sin Against Hope: How America has Failed Its Immigrants, and the founder of the online publication, La Frontera Times, Alfredo also has served on numerous civic and community boards, receiving many awards and accolades for his efforts along the way.

Merrill Mahaffey

An undeniable icon within Arizona and the Southwest’s arts scenes, Merrill Mahaffey has enjoyed more than four decades of success as a nationally recognized painter. Revered for his ability to emphasize realism and fractal modernism within Southwestern landscapes and his dedication and expertise as an art educator, Merrill’s works are on display at some of the nation’s most respected art institutions, among them the Phoenix Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His uniquely Arizona artistic endeavors and landscapes also are available for viewing at numerous institutional, corporate, and public locations nationwide. 

Vernon D. Swaback

A one-time apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the nation’s most iconic names in architecture, Vernon D. Swaback serves as the Director of Planning for Taliesin Associated Architects. In addition to chairing the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Vernon founded Swaback, an architectural and planning firm, and the Two Worlds Community Foundation. A Fellow at the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Certified Planners, Vernon also authored several books on design, community and utilizing nature through design.  He also proved instrumental in the design of numerous hotels, homes, and community developments spanning the state.

Meet our Historymakers

Alphabetical List