If there was one word I would use to describe the 2016 NAELA Theresa Award honoree, Elizabethanne Miller Angevine, it would be DEDICATED − dedicated to her clients, dedicated to her family and dedicated to her continuous advocacy work for seniors and people with disabilities.
As early as a young child, Betsy (as she is known to her friends) demonstrated her commitment to seniors and people with disabilities. She recalled visiting church “shut-ins” with her grandmother at just six years old. Then, as a teen, she cared for her grandparents when they became ill. She did whatever she could to make their lives better.
She became an advocate after “stumbling” into her first National Academy of Elder Law Attorney (NAELA) conference in 1989. Advocating for seniors and disabled persons became her mission. Listening to the presentations was an eye-opening experience. She recognized the enormous need to provide for people with disabilities and felt obligated to do her part.
Betsy is most proud of her advocacy for those who are developmentally disabled. She told me a story about one of her clients that had Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which is characterized by an uncontrolled appetite leading to extreme obesity. Her client also had mild cognitive issues, but was very strong in her conviction of opposing artificial nutrition and hydration. It was a long, hard fight, where Betsy “had to stand on her head” but was finally able to convince the judge to acknowledge her client’s wishes and obtain a court order. In the end, her client was able to die peacefully in hospice, as she desired.
Throughout the years, Betsy has worked with hundreds of people with disabilities. She believes each and every person with a disability is important in our society and should not be left out or left behind. She tries to ensure this for all her clients.
Betsy leads by example. She has, since her early days, been actively involved in several major aspects of NAELA. She has been a NALEA member since 1990, although she considers herself a member from when she attended her first Symposium in 1989. She has served on the NAELA Board and numerous NAELA committees. Betsy was a charter member of SoCal NAELA. She received the NAELA “member of the year” award twice, as well as the President’s award. She has also been an active voice in the legislative action community, working tirelessly to organize and participate in “Hill Day” activities both in Washington, D.C. and her home state of California.
Betsy considers NAELA her “tribe.” Finding a tribe who understands her work was so important. She believes NAELA has given her the tools to run her law office and to be a more effective advocate. For the past few years, Betsy was unable to attend the NAELA symposiums as her mother was very ill. Sadly, her mom passed away this past February. While taking care of her mother, missing the NAELA meetings hurt her the most. She is looking forward to reconnecting with her tribe.
Betsy enjoys spending time with her husband Mark, an engineer for Boeing, her daughters, Emma Angevine-Narvaez and Francis Angevine and her two grandchildren, Teddy and Maddie.