Elizabeth (Betsy) Arledge, 56, passed away 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, avid gardener and master naturalist. She loved books and music of all types.
Elizabeth was a 1982 graduate of Rutherfordton Spindale Central High School. She attended Queens College in Charlotte, NC and was a proud graduate of UNC – Chapel Hill in 1986. After graduation she was a staff writer at the Forrest City Daily Courier.
Elizabeth held a passion for politics and advocacy for the underserved. She began law school at Chapel Hill, but soon became involved in the campaign for NC Congressman David Price. She moved to Washington, DC in 1989 eager 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, nonpartisan campaign skills program that trained more than 5,000 women candidates and campaign staffers across the United States. That program contributed to a record-breaking number of women being elected to Congress in 1992. From 1996 to 2000, she provided strategic communications services to foundations and nonprofits across the country as an associate at Martin & Glantz. She found her true career calling in 2000 when she joined the National Legal Aid and Defender Association as its first Director of Communications. There she discovered her passion to shine light on America’s broken civil justice system and the inequity for those who cannot afford a lawyer and developed her formidable skills in service to the equal justice community, helping them tell compelling stories about their work, the clients they serve, and the unmet needs of those less fortunate. She went on to work at Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, VA, Disability Rights Oregon in Portland, and the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, DC. In 2013, Elizabeth obtained what she called her ‘dream job’, as founding Deputy Director of Voices for Civil Justice. She built a mighty national media and communications resource for her beloved community of civil justice reformers and civil legal aid advocates. At Voices, Elizabeth was able to deploy her full arsenal of strengths as a compassionate listener, master communicator, strategist, organizer, writer, coach, and cheerleader. Recent media coverage reporting the pandemic-driven eviction crisis has relied heavily on Elizabeth’s work to shape the narrative and develop sources, including people directly affected by the crisis, legal aid lawyers, and researchers in the specific issues involved. Civil justice reform such as the right to counseling in eviction cases and increased use of court navigators are the legacy of her strategic communications support.
Elizabeth is survived by her sister, Tracy Arledge Bowers of New Braunfels, TX, her partner Bob Giles, and her godchildren Katy, Lane, and Sam. She is predeceased by her mother, Polly Evelyn Bryant Arledge, her father, A. Jervis Arledge and sister, Bonnie Arledge. In lieu of a service, there will be a celebration of life sometime in the future when friends and family can gather together to celebrate her life. To receive information about an eventual gathering, you can request to join Facebook group Friends of Elizabeth Arledge or email FriendsofElizabethArledge@gmail.com.
Donations can be made in memory of Elizabeth Arledge to cancer research or legal aid services for western North Carolina as follows:
- Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center, 3300 Whitehaven Street, Suite 3000, Washington, DC 2007 or online at https://lombardi.georgetown.edu/giving/#. Specify gifts to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Research (online under ‘other’) and note the gift is in memory of Elizabeth Arledge.
- Pisgah Legal Services, P.O. Box 2276, Asheville, NC 28802 or online at www.pisgahlegal.org