My Mother, Elizabeth Edwards, and the Tapestry of Hope She Left Behind
In her speech, Cate Edwards poignantly describes her mother’s life as a tapestry, woven of the people running through it: the people she touched, whose perspectives she changed, whose lives she changed, and those who changed hers. Cate has said that her mother “never liked the word legacy; it seemed too much to live up to. She preferred the word story. Mom wanted the story she left behind to be worth telling. And it is.” In 2011, Cate started the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, which is focused on serving others, and is a way to spread Elizabeth’s story and provide outreach in her memory.
Cate Edwards is the daughter of Elizabeth and John Edwards and proudly and passionately serves as the President of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation.
She grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she attended Broughton High School. In high school, Cate could often be found across the street from Broughton at the Wade Edwards Learning Lab (the "WELL"), a computer and educational facility set up by the Edwards family in memory of Cate's brother, Wade. The WELL was open to all students to provide a productive after-school environment where students could access computers and get any extra help they needed. Throughout high school, Cate tutored mathematics at the WELL and provided any other help needed by students.
Cate attended Princeton University, where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in Politics and a certificate in Political Economy. Cate spent her summers in Washington, DC, working for The Advisory Board Company, The Council on Foreign Relations and her father's first campaign for the Democratic nomination for President. Upon graduation, Cate travelled to colleges and universities throughout the country in support of the Kerry-Edwards Presidential ticket, speaking to students about their concerns. After the 2004 election, Cate joined the board of Generation Engage, a youth voter and political engagement initiative. Cate worked at Vanity Fair magazine from 2004-2006, and helped to author and edit the New York Times bestseller, Home, with her dad, John Edwards.
In 2009, Cate graduated from Harvard Law School. While in law school, Cate served as a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, a student-run organization that provided free legal services and dedicated counsel to low-income individuals and families throughout Greater Boston. She worked primarily with clients facing housing issues, including victims of wrongful eviction, individuals living in uninhabitable conditions, and tenants of bank-foreclosed properties. Cate served as Executive Policy Editor of the Harvard Law and Policy Review, the national law journal of the American Constitution Society, and as Treasurer of the Harvard Law School Democrats. Cate also spent summers working with National Public Radio's Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg, and in the Washington, D.C. offices of Latham & Watkins and Jenner & Block.
Cate began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia. Following her clerkship, she joined a boutique civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C., where she worked on class action matters and represented clients who suffered discrimination in the workplace. In 2012, Cate co-founded Edwards and Eubanks, a public interest law firm located in Washington, D.C. Edwards and Eubanks was formed to fight for the rights and equality of regular, working people. Cate has now joined her father’s national practice, Edwards Kirby, and is the managing partner of the D.C. Office. Cate’s work focuses largely on civil rights and civil liberties. Her cases span a wide range of civil rights issues, including workplace sexual orientation discrimination by a federal government contractor against a gay employee, the endangerment of the health of a child by a public elementary school, and a wrongful arrest by a sheriff’s department that resulted in prolonged false imprisonment. In 2014, Cate was named a “D.C. Rising Star” by the National Law Journal.
In 2011, Cate launched the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation. The nonprofit foundation honors the memory of Cate’s mother by providing opportunities to students with limited resources and support. Cate is the President of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation and also serves on the Board of the Wade Edwards Foundation.
Cate currently lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Trevor Upham, and their dog, Luca.