ARLEDGE Elizabeth Arledge “Betsy” (56) died on January 7, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. She was surrounded by loved ones. Elizabeth was born on July 27, 1964 in Rutherfordton, NC. She was an artist in the kitchen, a weaver of people and friends, an avid gardener and naturalist. She loved books and all kinds of music. Elizabeth graduated from Rutherfordton Spindale Central High School in 1982. She attended Queens College in Charlotte, NC and was a proud graduate of UNC – Chapel Hill in 1986. After graduating, she worked for the Forrest City Daily Courier. Elizabeth had a passion for politics and advocacy for the underserved. She began her law degree at Chapel Hill, but soon joined the campaign for NC Congressman David Price. She moved to Washington, DC in 1989 to pursue her passion for women’s empowerment, social justice, and human rights. After a stint at Business & Professional Women USA, she joined the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1991, where she built a national, impartial campaign skills program that trained more than 5,000 US campaigners. This program helped ensure that a record number of women were elected to Congress in 1992. From 1996 to 2000, she was an Associate at Martin & Glantz providing strategic communications services to foundations and nonprofits across the country. Her real career came in 2000 when she joined the National Legal Aid and Defender Association as the first female communications director. It was there that she discovered her passion for shedding light on the broken American judicial system and inequality for those who cannot afford a lawyer, and developed her formidable skills in serving the equal justice community to help them create compelling stories about their work and clients to tell of what they serve and the unmet needs of the less fortunate. She worked at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, VA, Disability Rights Oregon in Portland, and Legal Services Corporation in Washington, DC. In 2013, Elizabeth got what she calls a “dream job” as founding director of Voices for Civil Justice. She built a powerful national media and communications resource for her beloved community of civil justice reformers and civil legal aid lawyers. Elizabeth used her full arsenal of strengths as a compassionate listener, communicator, strategist, organizer, writer, coach, and cheerleader. Recent media coverage of the pandemic-related eviction crisis relied heavily on Elizabeth’s work in framing the narrative, developing sources including those directly affected by the crisis, legal aid lawyers and researchers on the specific issues. Civil justice reform, such as the right to advice on eviction cases and the increased use of court navigators, are the legacy of their strategic communications support. Elizabeth is survived by her sister Tracy Arledge Bowers of New Braunfels, TX, partner Bob Giles, and godchildren Katy, Lane, and Sam. She died of her mother, Polly Evelyn Bryant Arledge, her father A. Jervis Arledge, and her sister Bonnie Arledge. Instead of a church service, at some point in the future there will be a celebration of life where friends and family can gather to celebrate their lives. For information about a possible gathering, you can request the Friends of Elizabeth Arledge Facebook group or send an email to [email protected]. Donations in memory of Elizabeth Arledge for cancer research or legal aid for Western NC can be made at: Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center, 3300 Whitehaven Street, Suite 3000, Washington, DC 2007 or online at https://lombardi.georgetown.edu / give / #. List gifts for Triple Negative Breast Cancer Research (online at “other”) and note that the gift is in memory of Elizabeth Arledge. Or Pisgah Legal Services, PO Box 2276, Asheville, NC 28802, or online at www.pisgahlegal.orgwww.pisgahlegal .org
Published in the Washington Post on January 9, 2021.