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Elizabeth Edwards

“We are not any better a person simply by describing someone else as worse.” 

How She Empowers Others

A passionate advocate for children and an accomplished attorney, Elizabeth Edwards has been a tireless worker on behalf of important social causes.

Mrs. Edwards is currently working with the Center for American Progress as a Senior Fellow, working on healthcare issues and contributing to the Wonk Room, the Center for American Progress Action Fund's newly-launched, first-of-its-kind policy rapid-response blog. "Elizabeth is a woman of extraordinary talent, knowledge, and grace,” said John Podesta, President of CAP and CAPAF. “She has proven herself to be one of the most effective, tenacious, and caring spokespeople for progressive policies in the country.”

The daughter of a decorated Navy pilot, Mary Elizabeth Anania was born on July 3, 1949. In her early years, she attended school in Japan, where her father was stationed with a reconnaissance squadron, flying missions over China and North Korea.

As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mrs. Edwards majored in English. She went on to study American literature but then switched to law, graduating from UNC Law School in May 1977.

Mrs. Edwards possesses an accomplished legal background. Following law school, she clerked with U.S. District Court Judge Calvitt Clarke, Jr. in Norfolk, Virginia. She worked for the North Carolina Attorney General's office in the early 1980s, where she did work for the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development and the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.

From 1984 to 1996, Mrs. Edwards worked at the Raleigh law firm Merriman, Nicholls, and Crampton. In the early 1990s, she taught legal writing as an adjunct instructor at UNC Law School for two years, and in 1996-97, she was a member of the first group of Public Fellows at the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC.

Mrs. Edwards is committed to serving the community and expanding educational opportunities for all children. She volunteered with the Parent Teacher Associations at her children's schools, and has been active in their youth soccer leagues in several roles. Additionally, she volunteered at Goodwill Industries, working in the book room of their thrift store.

In 1992, Elizabeth Edwards co-established the Vincent J. Anania Lacrosse Scholarship in honor of her father, a former lacrosse player and Assistant Coach at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1996, she helped to establish the Wade Edwards Foundation, and helped to build a computer learning center - the Wade Edwards Learning Lab - for youngsters in Raleigh. Recently, the foundation opened a similar computer lab in Goldsboro. The Wade Edwards Foundation also runs a statewide short fiction contest for North Carolina's high school juniors, awarding $10,000 a year in scholarships and grants to high school English programs.

In addition to her many accomplishments, Mrs. Edwards has inspired countless women through her willingness to publicly share her battle with breast cancer through her New York Times bestselling memoir, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, a memoir of her trials, tragedies, and triumphs, and of how various communities celebrated her joys and lent her steady strength and quiet hope in darker times. Her most recent book, Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities, was published by Broadway Books on May 12, 2009 and was a # 1 New York Times bestseller.

Mrs. Edwards is the proud mother of four children: Catharine, Emma Claire, and Jack. Her first child, Wade, died in 1996. Despite the demands of raising two young children, Mrs. Edwards still finds time to participate in community service. She remains active in the Wade Edwards Foundation, and is involved in a variety of charitable efforts, including fundraising for the March of Dimes benefit. She also serves on several boards, including the UNC Board of Visitors and Books for Kids.


  • Hello Mrs. Edwards,

    My name is Veronica Escobar and I wanted to let you know how much I admire you. When I read your memoir Saving Graces, I was immediately drawn to your story and moved by your unbelievable strength, courage and grace in dealing with the death of your beloved Wade and your courageous fight with cancer. I sympathized with you deeply, although, I had never thought I would deal with these two issues.

    Two years ago, my precious Baby Boy Rocco, was diagnosed with cancer. Rocco, my life, my heart, bravely fought for eight months; he passed away January 24th, 2008. You are a true inspiration to me. While reading Resilience and learning about your journey through this life without Wade, you gave me the words to describe the feelings only a mother can possible feel and understand. I really looked foward to hearing you speak at the conference this year. Unfortunately, the event sold out before I was able to purchase the tickets. Although I won't be at the conference, thank you so very much for writing about your experiences. Grief and loss over a child is something no other person on earth understands.

    I wish you the best of health possible at this time.


    Veronica Escobar

    Posted by Veronica, 12 August 2009.