Keystone Award

Starting a new tradition in 2019, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, Arizona Preservation Foundation, and host city of the Arizona Historic Preservation Conference have presented the Elisabeth Ruffner Keystone Award for Community Leadership. The award honors individuals whose commercial, political, philanthropic, artistic, planning, or advocacy efforts have contributed to their communities' quality of life, sense of place, and heritage appreciation.


“In construction, the keystone connects and stabilizes the whole, providing necessary support and strength. And our award recognizes community leaders whose motivation and passion have fostered the resources and connections necessary for preservation to thrive within their communities." ~ Kathryn Leonard, State Historic Preservation Officer


“The Keystone Award's namesake, Elisabeth Ruffner, was a tireless advocate for historic preservation who devoted her public life to enhancing her hometown of Prescott. She was a co-founder of the Arizona Preservation Foundation back in 1979. This award honors Arizonans who likewise have made their homes better places, enhanced civic identity, and become indispensable Keystones of their communities.” ~ Jim McPherson, Arizona Preservation Foundation Board President

2019 Honoree ~ Elisabeth Ruffner, Prescott


  • Elisabeth was instrumental in establishing numerous historic districts. She has worked to save more than 700-plus historic buildings in Arizona and helped secure each one a listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

  • She chaired the Prescott Public Library Board and led the capital campaign to obtain funding for a new library building

  • She was one of the founders of the Arizona Preservation Foundation and served as its first president

  • She served as founding president of the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council and president of the Yavapai Heritage Foundation

  • She served as Chair of the City of Prescott Mayor’s Committee on Economic Development where she wrote and saw adopted the Prescott Historic Preservation Ordinance

  • She was Chair of the state’s Historic Sites Review Committee, served as an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and received a Presidential appointment to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Services

  • She spearheaded the capital campaign for Prescott's Elks Opera House, raising over $1.7 million for its successful renovation and preservation

2021 Honoree ~ Darlene Justus, Tempe

  • Darlene championed the rehabilitation of the 1930 Rose Eisendrath House at 1400 North College Avenue

  • She co-founded the Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation

  • She was a tireless advocate to preserve the east side (Tempe’s portion) of Papago Park

  • She oversaw the desert landscape restoration of Evelyn Hallman Park in North Tempe

  • Her work leading the North Tempe Neighborhood Association kept questionable and inappropriate businesses out of North Tempe neighborhoods

  • Her voice and opinions at Tempe City Council meetings on scores of issues has always been respected


Artist Jacob Butler was commissioned to create the Tempe award from a laevicardium elatum, the same type of shell found in Arizona's ancient sites and sourced only in the Sea of Cortez. The shell is acid etched with saguaro wine, a 1,400-year-old O’Odham tradition.

2022 Honoree ~ To be announced