Statement of Qualifications from Elizabeth Kelley

Elizabeth Kelley
Elizabeth Kelley

Position Seeking: Secretary

Service to NACDL 

I joined NACDL in 2001 and I consider it my family.  I became a Life Member in 2002.  I am serving my third term on the Board of Directors.  During that time, I have only missed one meeting because I was in Liberia as part of NACDL’s training mission for that country’s defense bar.  I shall be returning in June, 2014 for additional training. 

Additionally, I have served on a variety of committees and task forces including but not limited to: the Problem-Solving Court Task Force, Long-Range Planning Committee, and Judicial Independence Task Force.  I have also served as chair of the Mental Health and Corrections Committees.

My most valuable contribution to NACDL has been as Membership Chair for the past two years.  As of this writing, membership has stabilized and is poised for growth.  During my first year as chair, using data compiled by the membership survey administered in 2011, the Committee organized three sub-groups specifically targeted at populations whose numbers NACDL should increase: young/newer lawyers, women, and public defenders.  Each of these groups devised strategies to recruit and retain members in each respective category.  (Although recruiting people of color is everyone’s responsibility, the Diversity Task Force leads this effort.)  For instance, the Next Generation group has organized several pub crawls complete with live tweeting, the Women’s Initiative has organized functions in seven cities, and the public defenders group has sponsored three no-host lunches. It should be emphasized that all NACDL members are welcome at these events.  Additionally, a special retention group has been started to build on NACDL’s enviable retention rate and to target private practitioners – a constituency which feels particularly vulnerable because of the economic downturn. 

Description of Practice and Community Involvement 

I do almost exclusively criminal defense and I specialize in representing persons with mental disabilities.  I speak throughout the country about this topic.  My practice is significant because mental disability is a subject which touches virtually every aspect of criminal law: death penalty, juvenile, white collar, and indigent defense.  In Cleveland, I served as president of the board of The ARC (a nationwide advocacy organization devoted to the rights of those with intellectual/developmental disabilities) and served on the board of Hopewell, a therapeutic community for the seriously mentally ill.  In my new/old home of Spokane, I have volunteered at the clinic at Gonzaga Law School, assisting students on a federal case from an Indian Reservation, and another involving a woman who is being threatened with re-institutionalization after being acquitted based on insanity at the time of the act.  Additionally, I am working with faculty to develop and fund an Innocence Project. 


As Secretary, the first thing I would do would be to work to restore our membership numbers to 12,000.  This is achievable if we specifically target the approximately 30,000 members of our state affiliates who are not NACDL members.  Second, I would like to re-structure our development efforts such that our fundraising matches the sophistication of our public policy initiatives.  Third, I would work to increase our international profile by developing closer alliances with groups which do international training in criminal justice issues and are involved with international tribunals.  Finally, I would urge all members of leadership to read The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Shutdown by Paul Taylor.  Our future is with digital natives, and we must market the virtues of this association which we love to a generation which has different social and professional habits than that of previous lawyers. 

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